The success of the Los Angeles Kings in the last three years has been second to none in the NHL as they have won two Stanley Cups in three seasons and have their sights set on a dynasty. Having a great team is impossible without the front office taking risks and making gambles that could pay off big down the line. The Kings will need to take that mentality into the 2014 NHL Entry Draft as they look to restock their cupboard with young talent. One prospect especially could be risk that pays off in means only seen in fiction.
Anthony DeAngelo is a New Jersey native who has lit up the elite OHL in the last three seasons as his prolific numbers made him one of the league’s top scoring defensemen. While his team, the Sarnia Sting, struggled mightily, DeAngelo’s scoring and playmaking had him look like a surefire top 10 pick in this draft.
DeAngelo had some issues as the season wore on, however. His defensive game was lacking, and as the losses piled up he appeared to be playing more for his own stats than for his teammates. While that is concerning, it was far from the biggest issue DeAngelo faced this past season.
Twice DeAngelo was suspended by the OHL as a result of its equality agreement because he directed slurs at a teammate. Someone who acts in such a manner not only divides the locker room but also makes it tough for a team to invest such a high pick. If a team is to take such a chance they better have the organizational aptitude to do so without ruining everything they stand for.
Great teams must take risks, plain and simple, especially when it comes to players with “character flaws”. Sometimes they payoff (the New England Patriots acquiring Corey Dillon in 2004), and other times they are a train wreck that is uglier than even the biggest pessimists could have predicted (those same Patriots drafting Aaron Hernandez in 2010). If DeAngelo is on the board when the Kings pick at No. 29 it would behoove Dean Lombardi and the organization to bring him into the fold.
If a team with born leaders such as Dustin Brown, Anze Kopitar and Mike Richards can’t get DeAngelo on the right track then no team can. Talent is a terrible thing to waste, and if there is any organization that will surely get the best out of its players, regardless of their past transgressions, it is the Kings.