While Dean Lombardi deserves much of the credit for putting together this team, some kudos has to go to his predecessor. During his nine years as GM of the Los Angeles Kings, it’s fair to say that the majority of Dave Taylor’s draft picks were busts. In fact, going through the list, I was hard-pressed to find many I’d even heard of. For all his draft-day follies, though, he did choose wisely with three players who have turned out to be the most important pieces of the Kings’ championship win.
While the first player he drafted as Los Angeles’ GM was Olli Jokinen (3rd overall in 1997), the players that followed were a motley mix of no-names who would never played a single shift with the Kings’ organization. Matt Zultek (drafted 15th overall the same year) re-entered the draft the following year. Joe Corvo (83rd overall in 1997) joins Jokinen as the only two of Taylor’s selection that year to still be playing in the NHL. The next NHLer Taylor drafted wasn’t until the 8th round of the 1999 Draft when George Parros was selected.
After a lack of success for a few years, the frustrated Kings entered the 2003 Draft with the 13th overall selection. That’s when Dave Taylor selected Dustin Brown. It wouldn’t be until two years later when Taylor capitalized on another pick as he selected Anze Kopitar with the 11th overall selection.
That same draft, Taylor drafted Danny Roussin (it’s okay, I never heard of him either) with the 50th overall selection before having his next two selections at 60 and 72. With the 60th pick, Dave Taylor selected a defenseman by the name of TJ Fast. Then, with the 72nd, he drafted a netminder by the name of Jonathan Quick. Did Taylor actually mean to draft players with such felicitous names or was it just a coincidence? I’d like to think, for Taylor’s professional sake, it was the latter but who knows. In any case, of the previous 13 goaltenders Taylor drafted during his tenure in Los Angeles’ front office, only Cristobal Huet had success in the NHL while just two of the others actually had the opportunity to play in the NHL, playing one and four games respectively. Needless to say, Dave Taylor’s track record with goaltenders was especially abysmal.
It certainly took a while for Quick to get to the NHL. After spending the next two years at UMass-Amherst, Quick moved on to Reading of the East Coast League, then some time in Manchester before being tested as one of the many in the participants that was the Kings’ goaltending carousel. Ultimately, Quick won the #1 job and, well, the rest is, as they say, history.
So, as many criticisms as Dave Taylor is due, he did do some good while running the show – Brown, Kopitar and Quick have not only become fixtures on the Kings’ roster but cornerstones for the franchise. The success of the Los Angeles Kings was the furthest thing from an overnight success and it shows with what Dave Taylor added to the puzzle. He may have moved on from the organization but a fair chunk of the Kings’ success this spring must be attributed to Taylor.
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