Who Is Thomas Hickey and Why Did the Kings Let a 4th Overall Pick Slip Away?

The Islanders grabbed another defender off the waiver wire today in Thomas Hickey a day after they got Joe Finley. Finley is rather large defender whose attributes and shortcomings are fairly straightforward; he fights, hits people, stays at home and skating could use work. With Hickey, it’s a tad more complex. Hickey is a fourth overall pick who has spent the past four seasons in the AHL. So why did the Kings put him in a position to get plucked off the waiver wive and why didn’t he make the Kings? For answers to those questions, we turn to the people who know the Kings better than just about anyone, the Kings blog the Royal Half:

It was June 22nd, 2007 when myself and the 100 or so other fans at the LA Kings Draft Party turned to each other and said “Who the eff is Thomas Hickey?” When he was announced as the 4th Overall pick by the LA Kings even Pierre McGuire had a hard time knowing where this defenseman played his junior hockey. (Just kidding… kinda.)

Even thought Hickey was viewed as a long-term project by the Kings scouts it was a total “off the board” pick to be 4th Overall that year. Hickey did show some promise after his draft year playing for the Seattle Thunderbirds and even Captained the 2009 Canada WJC team that won Gold. Heading to the AHL in 2009, Hickey struggled through injuries during his 1st two seasons at Manchester but since then has been a regular Top 4 defenseman for them.

Thomas Hickey has been given the chance to make the big club out of the last two training camps. But in 2010 Jake Muzzin and Alec Martinez made the team instead and in 2011 Slava Voynov impressed the Kings enough to eventually trade Jack Johnson away. So Thomas Hickey has been one of those prospects that’s been on the cusp of making the big team but there has always been one or two better defensemen just ahead of him. He doesn’t have enough flash to make the Kings clear a spot for him but it’s been more important to play him regularly in the AHL than to be a healthy scratch. Is the kid a bust? For a 4th Overall pick in a Draft that the Kings could have selected Logan Couture, Karl Alzner, David Perron or even Sam Gagner instead… yeah, he’s a HUGE bust. But a lot of people still think he could be a decent NHL defenseman.

There was no way that Thomas Hickey was going to crack the LA Kings defense lineup over the next 3 seasons. Now… for an NY Islanders team that is relying on Mark Streit, Travis Hamonic and Andrew MacDonald… he might be a nice waiver pickup for them.

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