Dancing in the Reign: Draft Picks Continue Developmental Success – Dwight King
Alexei Ponikarovsky‘s fractured finger forced him to the injured reserve list earlier today. This called for some prospect promotion in Manchester. The player granted the upgrade? Dwight King. Certainly not a household name for most Kings fans; The 4th round selection from the 2007 NHL Entry Draft will make his NHL debut tomorrow night against the Columbus Blue Jackets. His selection was through the draft pick acquired by the trade of Craig Conroy to the Calgary Flames. If today’s practice combinations shed any light, expect King to skate with Michal Handzus and Wayne Simmonds on the third line. The 21 year-old Saskatchewan native is just in his second year of professional hockey, jumping from the ECHL to the NHL in less than a year. Building through the draft has been the Kings’ focus since Dean Lombardi was appointed as general manager in 2006, and that strategy continues to opitimize success.
King’s name didn’t catch attention of the media too frequently during training camp, often being overshadowed by the organization’s expansive prospect depth. After being drafted, King returned to the Lethbridge Hurricanes of the WHL where he capped off his 5-year tenure in the junior hockey scene with 69 and 60 point seasons. King started the 2009-2010 season with the Ontario Reign of the ECHL, and was called-up to the Manchester Monarchs after 20 games. The stats are attractive, 35 points combined with both clubs in the regular season, tacking on 2 goals and 7 assists in the Calder Cup Playoffs.
His sudden appearance has caught my attention. What makes his debut so interesting is the chance to observe a player who has climbed the ranks at such a rapid pace, while being somewhat of an afterthought just two months ago. King will instantly replace Ponikarovsky’s size; the strength and skill will be tested. He’s shown the ability to adapt to higher levels of play, and quickly. May we have a hidden gem here? You might be looking at a future 4th line winger once Ponikarovsky returns. I’m just driving the speculation bus right now. Get off. He’ll be a fun watch tomorrow night.