Tanner Pearson was passed over in two drafts and had wait until the end of the 2012 draft for his name to be called by the then reigning champion Los Angeles Kings. Dean Lombardi’s investment in the former Barrie Colt has paid dividends as the rookie has been amazing in the Kings’ march towards the Stanley Cup Final. Playing on a line with fellow rookie Tyler Toffoli and veteran Jeff Carter (both “shoot first” type offensive players), Pearson has shown an amazing level of craftiness in facilitating the puck to his linemates.
Pearson played Junior “B” hockey in Ontario in his first draft year (2010) before moving on to the Barrie Colts of the OHL the next season. After being undrafted again in 2011, Pearson had a breakout season offensively and made the Canadian World Junior Team where he had solid showing with six points in six games. That June he finally heard his name called at the NHL Draft as the Kings took the forward with the 30th overall pick.
After spending much of the last two seasons with the Manchester Monarchs of the AHL, Pearson secured a spot with the Kings in the playoffs as he eventually found himself on the affectionately called “That ’70s Line”. Carter is an established star with a decorated resume and Toffoli has been lauded as the Kings’ top prospect for a while, but Pearson is anything but a third wheel. Both players would make Kobe Bryant proud in their willingness to shoot at anytime from anywhere on the ice. Pearson’s craftiness and “pass first” mentality has allowed Carter and Toffoli to have quality chances and frustrate the opposition. Pearson’s defensive acumen has also been on display as he is leading not only the Kings, but the entire league in playoff plus/minus.
‘That ’70s Line’ has been without question the best line of either team in the series as they have made the Chicago Blackhawks look like a bantam team. For the Kings to win their second Stanley Cup in three seasons, they’ll need the line to keep clicking; besides if the sitcom went on for eight seasons, what’s one more round and six more wins for the Kings?