The Kings postseason has come to a close, and the offseason is underway for General Manager Rob Blake.
While more immediate needs will be addressed in the beginning of July, the 2022 NHL Entry Draft occurs a week later. Young players begin the next phase of their professional hockey careers in the hopes of being among the 224 picks.
The Kings’ first pick is slated to be 19th. As usual, there are options to move up and down. Assuming they stand pat, the ongoing argument of “need” or “best player available” comes to the forefront.
As Los Angeles was looking for potential left-handed defensemen during last year’s draft, we feel it’s appropriate to continue that theme.
Owen Pickering
Date of Birth: January 27, 2004
Height: 6’5
Weight: 179 lbs
Shoots: Left
Position: Defense
2021-22 Season
Pickering spent his entire season so far playing for the Swift Current Broncos in the Western Hockey League. He had 33 points (9 G, 24 A) in 62 games.
Law of Averages
The Western Hockey League may sound unfamiliar to recent Kings fans. The last time they took a player from the WHL was in 2017, when Rob Blake took Jaret Anderson-Dolan. In the history of the draft, this is the longest stretch of time Los Angeles has never taken a player from that league.
Growing Together
The native of St. Adolphe, Manitoba found himself in quite familiar company in Swift Current. They failed to make the playoffs. However, the Broncos had 19 rookies, including Pickering, play at various times of the season. Despite this group learning curve and instability, Pickering was still the team’s top scoring blueliner.
We often make references to relationships draft hopefuls have with the Kings. One can dig deep into the annals of Los Angeles lore, and find that a prospect played pee-wee hockey with another, or that a former player is an executive. One can find, in some capacity, that a featured prospect knows someone related to the organization.
Yet, there are no patent ties. Pickering’s only international experience involves playing in this year’s U-18 WJC, of which there are no Kings prospects or former players.
Rankings by Independent Scouting Services
Ranked No 19 by Craig Button. “’Pickering is another kid, lanky, lots of physical maturity,’ said Button of the 6-foot-4 defenceman. ‘He’s raw right now but you watch him play and I just sit there and think about him in three years’ time. I just think whoa, he’s got abilities that are pretty impressive.
‘Everything in Owen Pickering’s game, all I see is development. All he needs is time. I don’t see any inherent weaknesses in that kid’s game.’”
Ranked No. 15 by Sportsnet. “Has underrated puck skills. There’s massive growth potential in this player, especially once he fills-out.”
Ranked No. 32 by Future Considerations. An extra report posted here stated, “Pickering is a versatile two-way defender, who uses his high-end mobility to impact the game. His skating is his best asset, he has the speed, power, and agility in his stride that allows him to close gaps, and cover large areas of space in the blink of an eye.”
See For Yourself
Here is a shift by shift video of Pickering against Lethbridge on January 3, 2022.

Final Comments
It is safe to say that after making the playoffs, the rebuild is over. Expectations going forward will involve making the playoffs. Because of this, don’t expect the Kings to trade back in the draft for additional picks.
Pickering himself has many desirable traits for Los Angeles: good size, mobility, learning to use his physicality, and a left-handed shot. He covers the ice very well between his reach and skating. In the absolute worst-case scenario, he can grow to become a stay-at-home blueliner to cover for a more offensive counterpart on the right, such as Clarke, Durzi, or Spence. The Kings development staff has also done a lot of great work developing their defensemen into preparing for the NHL’s rigors.
His 33 points during a season suggests limited offensive ability, yet context is always key. As mentioned before, he was a rookie on a largely rookie team. Swift Current was the fifth-worst offense.
Pickering has a high floor due to his already existing tools. Due to his growth potential as a rookie, he has a higher ceiling compared to most prospects in Los Angeles.
Chat with David: You can find him on Twitter @Davidenkness to talk more hockey.
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