June 26, 2004 - American Hockey League (AHL) - Manchester Monarchs
MANCHESTER, NH Â– The Los Angeles Kings (NHL), the parent club of the Manchester Monarchs (AHL), today drafted Finnish right wing Lauri Tukonen and defenseman Paul Baier in the first three rounds of the 2004 NHL Entry Draft, hosted by the Carolina Hurricanes (NHL) at the RBC Center in Raleigh, North Carolina. The club also acquired goaltender Mathieu Garon as part of a three-team trade between the Kings, the Montreal Canadiens and the Ottawa Senators. Rounds 4-9 of the draft will take place tomorrow. Tukonen, 17, the 11th overall pick in the first-round, played in 35 games this past season for Espoo Blues of the Finnish Elite League and had six points (3-3=6) and 16 penalty minutes. With Espoo, Tukonen was the youngest player in the league. In addition, the 6-foot-2, 200-pound winger from Hyvinkaa, Finland, played in seven games and was one of the top forwards for the host/bronze-medal winning Team Finland at the 2004 World Junior Championships, recording three points (2-1=3) and two penalty minutes. At the World under-18 tournament in Belarus, Tukonen tied for the tournament and team lead in points with 11. He also co-led his team in goals (five), plus/minus rating (plus-7) and power-play goals (two).
Â“We had Lauri ranked in our top-7,Â” said Kings Senior Vice President and General Manager Dave Taylor from the clubÂ’s draft table at the RBC Center. Â“We think he will be a solid player in the NHL. He has good size and strength to go along with a nice combination of skating ability and skill level.Â”
Tukonen, who was also named by McKeenÂ’s Hockey Prospects as having the Best Power Forward Potential, said Â“this is real fantastic to play for the Kings, where (Finnish great and Hockey Hall of Famer) Jari Kurri played a few years ago. This is a dream come true.Â”
The Kings traded their third-round choice (77th overall) in this weekendÂ’s NHL Entry Draft to the Senators in exchange for center Radek Bonk.
The Kings then traded Bonk and goaltender Cristobal Huet to the Canadiens in exchange for Garon and a third-round selection (95th overall) in this weekendÂ’s NHL Entry Draft (Kings selected Baier).
Â“We think Mathieu is a solid, young goaltender with the upside to be a No. 1 goaltender in the NHL,Â” said Taylor. Â“We have been watching him since he came into the league and as far back as juniors. He has excellent size, real quick feet and he has matured a lot in the last little while. We believe that he has developed a pretty good mental edge and playing in Montreal is a good experience. We are glad to add him to our team.Â”
Garon, 26, played in 19 games for the Canadiens this past season, his fourth with the club. He had an 8-6-2 record, a 2.27 goals-against-average and a .921 save-percentage. During the 2002-03 season, Garon played in eight games with Montreal and had a 1.99 goals-against-average and a .940 save-percentage.
Originally MontrealÂ’s second-round choice (44th overall) in the 1996 NHL Entry Draft, the 6-foot-2, 202-pound Garon is a native of Chandler, Quebec. He also made his NHL post-season debut this past season, playing in one game (11-minutes with six saves on six shots). Huet, 28, played in a career-high 41 games for the Kings this past season, his second in the NHL, and recorded a 10-16-10 record, a .907 save-percentage, a 2.43 goals-against-average and three shutouts. The 6-foot, 194-pound native of St. Martin DÂ’Heres, France, was originally selected by the Kings in the seventh-round of the 2001 NHL Entry Draft. He made his Kings/NHL debut during the 2002-03 season and played in 12 games. Huet appeared in 30 games with the Monarchs during the 2002-03 season and recorded a 16-8-5 record, a .922 save-percentage, a 2.29 goals-against-average and one shutout.
Baier, 19, was the final selection by the Kings (third round, 95th overall) today. In 23 games last season with Deerfield Academy in Massachusetts, the 6-foot-3, 212-pounder from Summit, New Jersey, recorded 10 points (6-4=10) and 22 penalty minutes.
Â“Paul is a right-handed defenseman who has excellent size. He plays a physical game,Â” said Taylor. Â“Last year he played at Deerfield Academy and is on his way to Brown University.Â”
The Kings had previously sent their second-round choice (41st overall) to the Philadelphia Flyers for goaltender Roman Cechmanek.