5 NHL Careers That Wouldn’t Have Happened Without the Los Angeles Kings

5 NHL Careers the Los Angeles Kings Helped Launch

Los Angeles Kings
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While the Los Angles King have been making news for being a truly elite NHL team and winning two of the last three Stanley Cups, the Kings' impact goes beyond their hardware as their presence in Southern California has led to young players throughout the region having professional success. If Wayne Gretzky didn’t come to L.A. in 1988, there would be no San Jose Sharks nor Anaheim Ducks and none of these young men would have played hockey.

5. Thatcher Demko

Thatcher Demko
Eric Hartline- USA Today Sports

5. Thatcher Demko

Thatcher Demko
Eric Hartline- USA Today Sports

Though not yet an NHL player, the Boston College goalie will be the first netminder taken off the board at this week’s NHL Draft. Before taking his talents to the East Coast and the NCAA, the San Diego nation was an L.A. Junior King and San Diego Gull in youth hockey.

4. Jonathon Blum

Jonathon Blum
Randy Sartin-USA TODAY Sports

4. Jonathon Blum

Jonathon Blum
Randy Sartin-USA TODAY Sports

The Rancho Santa Margarita native was the first Golden State native to ever be drafted in the first round when Nashville called his name in 2007. While his development has stalled, he has still played over 100 NHL games and is still only 25 years old.

3. Beau Bennett

Bennett
Charles LeClaire-USA Today Sports

3. Beau Bennett

Bennett
Charles LeClaire-USA Today Sports

The Gardena native was drafted in the first round of the 2010 draft by the Pittsburgh Penguins at the Staples Center and has been turning heads since. While his 2013-14 season was derailed due to injuries, the former Denver Pioneer is still a big part of the team’s future and will surely get a look on the wing with either Sidney Crosby or Evgeni Malkin next season.

2. Emerson Etem

Emerson Etem
Gary A. Vasquez-USA Today Sports

2. Emerson Etem

Emerson Etem
Gary A. Vasquez-USA Today Sports

Etem torched the WHL as a member of the Medicine Hat Tigers during his three years of junior hockey using his speed and deadly offensive abilities. While cracking the Ducks’ lineup hasn’t been easy, he is still a young player who will be playing close to home at the Honda Center for years to come.

1. Matt Nieto

Matt Nieto
Robert Mayer- USA Today Sports

1. Matt Nieto

Matt Nieto
Robert Mayer- USA Today Sports

The Long Beach native has become a mainstay in the San Jose Sharks’ lineup and the best is yet to come for him. His speed and offensive creativity made him a deadly college scorer at Boston University and will help him have a long and decorated NHL career. The Sharks struck gold when they drafted him in the second round in 2011 and will reap the benefits of keeping the kid from the LBC in the Golden State for many years to come.

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