The Los Angeles Kings have the second overall pick in this year’s NHL Entry Draft. They should draft Quinton Byfield, but whoever they end up picking should be a good NHL player. The Kings have picked second overall in the past – in fact, they’ve picked second three times. The three players they’ve selected have had varying degrees of success in the NHL.
3) Doug Smith
No, the Kings did not select the Doug Smith that the movie Goon is based on. Smith was selected second overall by the Kings in the 1981 NHL Entry Draft and was a highly-touted prospect at the center position. Dale Hawerchuk was selected before him, as he was the consensus first overall pick. Smith was the Kings’ highest draft pick since they the first overall pick in 1967.
Prior to being drafted, he was one of the best players in the OHL. He played for the Ottawa 67’s, and in his draft season (1980-81), he scored 45 goals and tallied 56 assists for a total of 101 points in 54 games played. He played with an edge to his game, adding 61 penalty minutes in that season.
In the 1981-82 OHL season, Smith played in one game and posted three points along with 17 penalty minutes. He was then called up to the NHL by the Kings. In the 1981-82 NHL season, he skated in 80 games and scored 16 goals and added 14 assists. He finished 11th on the team in points and sixth in goals. He did bring the edge he played with in the OHL into the NHL, as he posted 64 penalty minutes. In the playoffs, he played a role in the “Miracle on Manchester”.
Smith missed lots of his sophomore season (1982-83) due to a wrist injury and the flu, and only skated in 42 games. In those 42 games, he posted 22 points (on pace for more than the previous season) and a minus-14. In his third season, he played in 72 games and set career highs (at the time) in points (36) and assists (20). He also set a career-high minus-33, which was the lowest he ever recorded. The 1984-85 season was the best of his career, as he scored 21 goals and posted 41 points in 62 games played. Even with those strong offensive totals, he had a minus-17.
The 1985-86 season was Smith’s last in LA. In 48 games played, he put up 17 points and a minus-29 before being traded to the Buffalo Sabres midway through the season. Smith played in 304 games for the Kings, where he was a minus-102, and posted 167 points. He never hit the potential he had at the OHL level and ended up playing his final two seasons in Austria. He retired in 1992 after suffering a career-ending neck injury which left him paralyzed. He relearned how to walk, and is now a motivational speaker and an author.
2) Jimmy Carson
Carson’s time with the Kings was brief but impactful. Heading into the 1986 NHL Entry Draft, he was the top-rated center. In two seasons with the Verdun Junior Canadiens of the QMJHL, he played in 137 games and scored 114 goals and had a total of 269 points. This led to LA selecting him second overall behind Joe Murphy.
Carson made an immediate impact in the NHL. In his rookie season (1986-87), he played in 80 games; scoring 37 goals and tallying 79 points. He finished third on the Kings in points (behind Luc Robitaille and Bernie Nicholls), and second in goals (behind Robitaille). In his sophomore season, Carson shattered his rookie season totals. He scored 55 goals and added 52 assists for 107 points. His 55 goals led the team, and his 107 points were second behind Robitaille’s 111.
In the 1988 off-season, Carson was traded to the Oilers and was one of the main pieces in the trade that sent Wayne Gretzky to LA. In his first season with Edmonton (1988-89), he posted 100 points in 80 games played. He wanted no part of Edmonton and was traded to his hometown Detroit Red Wings in the 1989-90 season for Joe Murphy (who was selected before him in the draft), Adam Graves, and Petr Klima. All three of these players played a pivotal role in the Oilers’ 1990 Stanley Cup victory.
Carson was often injured while playing for Detroit, however, he played well for the Red Wings, although not at the 100-point level he had with LA and Edmonton. On January 29, 1993, he was part of a six-player trade between Detroit and LA. This stint with LA didn’t last long, as he was traded to Vancouver 26 games into the 1993-94 season. He vastly underachieved in his second go-round with the Kings, playing in 59 regular-season games and posting 33 points. He scored nine points in 18 playoff games.
In his two tenures with the Kings, he played in 219 games and posted 219 points; exactly a point per game, which is a great total. In his time with LA (especially his first two seasons), he was a very effective player.
1) Drew Doughty
The pinnacle of second overall picks for the Kings is Drew Doughty. He has been one of the best defensemen in the NHL for almost all of his career and is definitely one of the best defensemen of this generation. Few blueliners of this era can match-up with his career accomplishments: two Stanley Cups, one Norris Trophy, two Olympic Gold Medals, and one World Cup of Hockey Gold Medal.
Doughty played a large part in the Kings’ most successful seasons. Alongside Jonathan Quick and Anze Kopitar, he was a driving force behind the Kings’ two Stanley Cup victories. His 502 career points are ninth all-time for the Kings and trail only Rob Blake for most points by a defenseman. Out of the two other second overall picks, Carson is the next closest in points, ranking 31st all-time in the Kings leaderboard.
Based on Doughty’s individual accomplishments and team success, he is definitely the Kings’ best-ever second overall pick.