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National Hockey League Draft : Kings Pick American in 1st Round

Times Staff Writer

This was a good year for hockey players who were born in the USA.

A record seven Americans were picked in the first round of Saturday’s National Hockey League draft at the Montreal Forum.

The Kings, who had the second pick in the draft, turned down several trade offers and selected center Jim Carson, 18, of Detroit. Carson said he found out that the Kings would pick him when his agent phoned him Saturday at 5 a.m.

Carson (6-0, 185), who has spent the last two seasons playing for the Montreal Canadiens’ junior team in Verdun, Canada, was rated as the second-best player by NHL central scouting. He scored 70 goals and had 83 assists in 69 games last season.

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“It’s very exciting to be the second pick overall and especially the first American because that’s quite an honor,” Carson told the United Press International. “I think the U.S. program is really improving and it’s a credit to U.S. hockey.

“I think I can step right in and play, but that’s a decision for the team to make at camp. I’m going to come in with a good frame of mind and work as hard as I can, and hopefully I’ll make it.”

As expected, Joe Murphy, an 18-year-old center/right wing from Michigan State, who was ranked as the top amateur hockey player, was selected No. 1 in the draft by the Detroit Red Wings.

Murphy, from Vancouver, led Michigan State to the NCAA title last winter, scoring 24 goals and 37 assists in 35 games.

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The Kings have a history of dealing away their draft picks and getting little in return, and General Manager Rogie Vachon said he received several trade offers.

“I had some pretty good offers to switch picks, and there were a number we had to look at very closely,” Vachon said. “The New York Rangers, New York Islanders, Minnesota and Montreal made the best offers.

“But we decided to go with the first-round pick. We feel he (Carson) is definitely going to be a star. He has a chance to make our club next year even though he’s young.”

Vachon said the deciding factor in taking Carson was that he came off well in an interview when the Kings flew him to Los Angeles for a pre-draft meeting.

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“I liked the way he talked and the way he handled himself,” Vachon said. “It’s not like he’s never been away from home before. He’s been living by himself in Canada for two years, and I think he’s a little more mature than the other guys.”

King Coach Pat Quinn said: “Hopefully he’ll be a player who will help our organization for a long time to come. His stats indicate that he’s a scorer. But the one part of his game that he needs to improve is his defense.”

Four of the Kings’ 11 selections are Americans.

The Kings picked Americans in the fifth and sixth rounds--center Dave Guden (6-1, 205) of Roxbury (Mass.) Latin High and goalie Robb Stauber (5-10, 165) of Denfield High in Duluth, Minn.

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Guden, 18, will attend Providence College next fall. He had 22 goals and 26 assists in 15 games last season. Stauber, 18, will play for the University of Minnesota. Stauber had a 20-7 record last season.

The other American selected by the Kings is defenseman Russ Mann (6-2, 205) of St. Lawrence University. Mann was born in Methuen, Mass.

Other American players taken in the first round:

--Left wing Dan Woodley (5-11, 185) of the Portland Winter Hawks, who was selected seventh by the Vancouver Canucks.

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--Defenseman Brian Leetch (5-11, 175) of Avon (Conn.) Old Farms High, who was picked ninth by the New York Rangers.

--Center Craig Janney (6-0, 175) of Boston College, who was picked 13th by the Boston Bruins.

--Left wing Everett Sanipasse (6-2, 195) of the Verdun Jr. Canadiens, who was picked 14th by Chicago. Sanipasse was born in Canada but has dual citizenship.

--Right wing George Pelawa of Bemidji (Minn.) High, who was picked 16th by the Calgary Flames. Pelawa (6-3, 220) should fit in well with the Flames, who have one of the biggest teams in the NHL.

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--Tom Fitzgerald (6-1, 190), a center-right wing from Austin (Mass.) Prep High, who was picked 17th by the New York Islanders.

Three of the Kings’ first four picks are centers, and they also selected five defensemen and one goalie. Last season the team set a club record for goals allowed.

The Kings’ didn’t have a second-round pick because of a trade with the Philadelphia Flyers last season.

But in the third round they selected defenseman Denis Larocque (6-1, 205), who has played two seasons of junior hockey in Guelph, Canada. He had 2 goals and 17 assists in 66 games last season.

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Vachon said that he doesn’t think that Larocque will make the team next season because he needs to improve offensively.

The Kings picked center Sylvain Couturier (6-2, 205) of Laval, Canada, in the fourth round.

After taking the two Americans back-to-back, the Kings then selected right wing Sean Krakiwsky (6-0, 175) of the Calgary Wranglers in the seventh round. Krakiwsky, 18, scored 9 goals and had 32 assists in 39 games last season.

KINGS’ SELECTIONS

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Rnd Name Pos. Hgt Wgt Hometown 1 Jimmy Carson C 6-0 185 Detroit 3 Denis Larocque D 6-1 205 Hawkesbury, Canada 4 Slyvain Couturier C 6-2 205 Laval, Canada 5 Dave Guden C 6-1 205 Brighton, Mass. 6 Robb Stauber G 5-10 165 Duluth, Minn. 7 Sean Krakiwsky RW 6-0 175 Calgary 8 Rene Champdelaine D 6-0 195 Weyburn, Canada 9 Trevor Pochipinski D 6-2 187 Penticton, Canada 10 Paul Kelly RW 6-0 180 Guelph, Canada 11 Russ Mann D 6-2 205 Methuen, Mass. 12 Brian Hayton D 5-11 200 Guelph, Canada

Kings traded second-round draft pick to Philadelphia.


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