In a deep NHL draft, expect Connor McDavid to lead the way

Witnessing forward Connor McDavid dominate against his peer group was one thing for Michael Futa, the Kings' vice president of hockey operations and director of player personnel.

But then Futa started hearing about McDavid holding his own against established NHL players in summer camps a few years back. A former Kings forward, the Philadelphia Flyers' Wayne Simmonds, offered the highest generational praise.

"Wayne told me: 'You've got to see this kid. The kid is sick.' That's their terminology," Futa said. "At my age, you get a thermometer. At their age, it's a real compliment."

Could the sick kid finally be the cure for the Edmonton Oilers?

On Friday, the healing might start for the Oilers in Sunrise, Fla. It is the first day of the NHL's two-day entry draft, and McDavid is a lock to head to Edmonton, which has the first pick. Jack Eichel will become a Buffalo Sabre at No. 2 and then the predictability ends, meaning the fun starts with what the Arizona Coyotes might do at No. 3.

McDavid has been called a generational talent, in the mold of Sidney Crosby and Wayne Gretzky.

"He's just built to play the game," Futa said. "The stride and power he generates is Crosby-like and never seems to tire. He can find everybody on the ice and he's not selfish when it comes to distributing the puck.

"Some guys have the tools but they're content with silvers. He's got that golden mentality. I think he'll be good for Edmonton, good for the NHL."

The Kings have their No. 1 pick — 13th overall — wisely making it a protected choice when they acquired defenseman Andrej Sekera from Carolina at the trade deadline. Carolina will get the Kings’ first-round pick next year.

By missing the playoffs, the Kings have their top pick in what is considered by some to be the deepest draft since 2003. They haven't had a selection this early since 2009, when they took Brayden Schenn at No. 5. Anaheim also retains its first-round No. 1 pick, selecting at No. 27.

"There's been some hype on this draft for at least two years now," said Ducks director of scouting Martin Madden. "I think it's warranted at the top end. Obviously, the top two guys are generational — two teams, two cities are going to be happy to watch them play for a long time.

"The first half of the first round is also very good. I don't know if the rest of the first and the second is as outstanding as some say. But there's definitely depth well into the third round. It'll be interesting for us."

The Kings and Ducks have more weapons at their disposal, with young assets, to craft possible trades or to move up in the draft. Anaheim has an enviable prospect list and the Kings' minor league team (Manchester, N.H.) is coming off an American Hockey League championship.

There is no shortage of speculation regarding established NHL goalies suddenly becoming available. In a roundabout way, that could solve one lingering concern for the Kings — the problem of Mike Richards' long-term contract. To take on that contract, other teams would want a top youngster, say Tyler Toffoli or Tanner Pearson.

Obviously, Kings General Manager Dean Lombardi isn't going to go down that road, parting with either of his prized forwards. But putting backup goalie Martin Jones in the package might be enough to help get it done.

Twitter: @reallisa

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