While they were one of the quieter teams this past Sunday, that isn’t to say that the Los Angeles Kings were ineffective at the draft.
After trading their first-round to Columbus in the Jeff Carter deal some 15 months earlier, the Kings had to wait until late in the second round to make their first pick of 2013. With that, the Kings originally had to wait until the end of the second round where they were slated to pick 57th overall. However, the 2012 Stanley Cup Champions traded up with the Edmonton, sending their 57th pick and two other selections to the Oilers in exchange for the 37th overall selection. With that pick, the Kings selected left winger Valentin Zykov from Baie-Comeau of the Quebec Major Junior League.
While he only spent one season on this side of the pond, Zykov only needed that much time to make a name for himself in North America.
After recording just 11 points in 52 games for CSKA in the Russian junior league in 2011-12, the 6-foot 208-pound arrived in Canada as a relative unknown. When the 18-year-old suited up for Baie-Comeau to begin the 2012-13 season, fans and scouts alike saw a diametrically opposite side of Zykov who went to have a breakout year in the Q, scoring 40 goals and adding 35 assists for 75 points in 67 games.
As a result of stellar numbers, the 18-year-old native of St. Petersburg, Russia was awarded the QJMHL’s Rookie of the Year, Offensive Rookie of the Year and was named to the league’s All-Rookie Team. If that weren’t enough, Zykov was named the Canadian Hockey League’s Rookie of the Year after leading all CHL freshmen in goals and points. Zykov’s postseason was also impressive as he led all QMJHL rookie is goals with 10 and added nine assists for 19 points in 19 games.
While his biggest flaw is his inconsistency, Valentin Zykov has plenty of upside to his game. In addition to his offensive prowess, Zykov is known as a sniper who can blister a shot with a quick flick of the wrist. Zykov is also a swift, fluid skater who, once he has the puck, creates a major challenge for opposing players who try to take it away from him.
Personally, Valentin Zykov reminds me of a former Russian who donned the Kings uniform at one time: Alexander Frolov. While Frolov was offensively-gifted, he, like Zykov, was a streaky winger who had issues staying consistent.
The plus side is that Zykov is just 18 years old and while it’s not guaranteed, it is expected that the youngster will return to Baie-Comeau for the 2013-14 season.
It may be a while before we see Valentin Zykov don the silver-and-black in the City of Angels but the prospect already looks promising and I certainly can’t wait to see him in the Kings organization in due time.