Daily News NHL draft: Kings select Jakub Dvorak, Koehn Ziemmer with first two picks


They see me rollin'. They hatin'.
Staff member
Jul 28, 2004
Without a first-round pick in Wednesday’s NHL draft, the Kings finally got on the board Friday morning in Nashville.

Here’s how the Kings’ draft has gone:

Second round​

Jakub Dvorak, D, Czech Republic (55th overall)

While a 6’5” left-shooting defenseman sounds like a great addition to the Kings of today, Dvorak is under contract for one more season in his native country’s top league and will likely take multiple seasons to mature. There are reasons to believe there’s more to his game than what he’s shown to date: He did not turn 18 until May and he missed substantial time, including the opportunity to compete at the Under-20 World Junior Championships, due to a broken collarbone that was another in a series of health complications for the young rearguard.

But Dvorak did play a significant role in two less prominent tournaments, recovering to captain the Czechs at the Under-18 Worlds and also having competed in the Hlinka Gretzky Cup. He has tools that, if developed properly, could make him a formidable shutdown defender. His frame remains lanky but projectable, and the physical edge to his game could sharpen as he gets stronger. His limited role at the top level in the Czech league should expand next season. What he lacks in frills he may make up for in reliability, playing a classic style that emphasizes quick, sound decisions with the puck and solid defensive positioning.

Third round​

Koehn Ziemmer, W, Canadian Major Junior (78th overall)

Ziemmer was one of the top names in SCNG’s Kings draft preview and a possible name to be called with the Kings’ first pick, 24 selections earlier. Combining size, a top-tier shot among his 2005-born peers and supple hands, he can finish or make plays near the netfront, where most goals are scored in the NHL. His tenacity is an asset in terms of puck retrieval, board work and the forecheck. He looks for opportunities to impose his size on opponents, even when he is carrying the puck.

As enticing as all this sounds, Ziemmer did not join his linemate Riley Heidt (selected by Minnesota) at the podium in Round 1, and waited another 46 picks to hear his name. Acceleration is an area that will need work, among aspects of skating, for his game to translate to the NHL level. While some prospects excel in big games and may be overvalued as a result, Ziemmer hasn’t shined brightly in a relatively small sample of junior-level playoff games, nor has he had the opportunity to showcase himself for a ridiculously deep Canadian national program.

Fourth round​

Hampton Slukynsky, G, U.S. High School (118th overall)

It’s rare but not unheard of to see a player make the leap directly from a high-school program to being drafted in the NHL, with Buffalo’s Casey Mittelstadt being the most notable recent example (drafted No. 8 overall in 2017).

Sluknysky is a Northern Michigan commit, but he appears destined for the USHL next year before starting his collegiate career in 2024-25. Even with scouting reports surfacing, it may be difficult to project his development based on the low level of competition he faced, and the fact that he was also a goalie on a team that did not subject him to heavy fire. This pick is another sign that the Kings scrutinized lesser-known prospects looking for value since they knew they would not have a pick in the top 50, which limited their access to bankable talents.

Fifth round​

Matthew Mania, D, Canadian Junior (150th overall)

An alumnus of the same junior program as Quinton Byfield, Mania elicited a wide range of projections in the middle rounds but ultimately fell all the way to the 150th pick. A right-shooting defender with wheels, edges, vision and the daringness to utilize them, Mania’s reel resembled that of a much higher pick.

Consistency and defensive commitment are areas where he will need to improve considerably to make the leap. He has a number of elements that are difficult to reach, making him a potential steal in the fifth round.

More to come on this story.

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