Olli Jokinen may lack muscle, but he doesn't lack self-assurance. And if the Finnish teenager's adjustment to the NHL is as smooth as he anticipates, the Kings' rebuilding process may be a little shorter.
Jokinen, ranked first among European players by the NHL's Central Scouting Bureau, was chosen third overall by the Kings in Saturday's NHL entry draft at the Civic Arena. But Jokinen may be second to none in this year's crop as a total package of size, speed and skill--not to mention assertiveness.
As expected, the Boston Bruins used the first pick to take Sault Ste. Marie center Joe Thornton, whose exceptional puckhandling, explosive speed and extraordinary vision on the ice inspired comparisons to Philadelphia Flyer center Eric Lindros. The San Jose Sharks then took center Patrick Marleau from Seattle of the Western Hockey League, whom the Kings liked enough for General Manager Dave Taylor to acknowledge there would have been "a little debate" at their draft table if San Jose had passed on him. After the Kings selected Jokinen, the New York Islanders made Roberto Luongo of Val d'Or the fourth pick, the earliest a goalie has ever been selected.