As stated in Kings World Podcast - Episode 1.13, this is the third draft of this preview. Events in the past five days or so have caused me to re-evaluate how I see what’s going down with this roster. Just note, this review could be updated before the puck drops on Saturday night.
Here we are, just a few days until the start of the new season! I thought the day would never come, but I am relieved knowing there is relevant hockey to be had soon enough. I am unsure about many things in life, but there is one thing I can state with confidence: the Kings won’t end the season in 30th place. Wait… I think...? In any case, there is plenty of time to debate this statement, but I’m positive that the Kings can’t look any worse than they did during the 07-08 season. They just can’t. With new coach Terry Murray in place who brings a much calmer coaching style, I’m hoping the Kings don’t come out looking like they already have their tails between their legs. It’s clear that Marc Crawford’s yelling with steam shooting from his ears approach wasn’t working, so it really can’t be any worse, right?
Now that I’ve gotten over the tediousness of the Year-In-Reviews, I can take a more focused look at how the roster appears for the start of the season. The Kings have assigned a number of players, only one of which caused me to do a double take (Teddy Purcell). Sad face. The roster has now been slimmed down and these are the lines that have been running at practices as of late (with their ages). After attending a bit of practice this morning and talking to Daryl Evans for a few minutes, I am more confident with what I’ve written below.
Matt Moulson (24) – Anze Kopitar (21) – Dustin Brown (23) - Purple
Alexander Frolov (26) – Jarret Stoll (26) – Oscar Moller (18) - White
Kyle Calder (29) – Michal Handzus (31) – Wayne Simmonds (20) - Gray
Raitis Ivanans (29) – Derek Armstrong (35) – Brad Richardson (23) - Maroon
Patrick O’Sullivan (23) – Brian Boyle (23) - Green
John Zeiler (25) – IR
Yesterday Sully re-signed with a 3-year contract, which is ridiculously fantastic in my eyes because his cap hit is only $2.925 for the duration of the contract. He won’t be making more than Brownie, which I was a little concerned about. I’m completely happy with this conclusion even though I know it was a very trying time for him, especially since he had to miss almost all of training camp and all of the preseason games. He has to now earn his spot back on the roster, something that could take as little as a few days to a few weeks. I’m not really in any rush to push him too hard because (1) I don’t want him to get injured and (2) Moulson looks damn good with Kopi and Brownie on the top line.
Two disappointments for me from training camp (which was reiterated by Daryl Evans) were Purcell and Boyle. Purcell apparently didn’t show up to camp having done what he should have done during the offseason. I didn’t ask what those specific things were, but it’s not like Boyle impressed much either. This is very disconcerting for me since I was counting on those two to be in the lineup and provide offensive output. To know that Boyle isn’t even on a set line in practice doesn’t instill too much hope for me either. Now that Purcell is officially not on the starting lineup and Sully is back, I’m curious to see which of the two kids (Moller and Simmonds) will remain on the team for the entire season. I’m unsure if Moller can, but Simmonds is flat out energy with potential point production who I believe could possibly stay up with the Kings.
The return of Sully actually tosses a wrench into the top two lines, which will, in turn, cause disruption with the bottom two lines. That’s obviously a natural progression, but I’m very curious to see what Terry Murray will do. Many of the players can play different positions, so it’ll be more a matter of shifting the lines to find different dynamics that will still output the desired results than just trying to find a place for Sully to play. Shifting gears to the bottom lines, the spark is definitely Simmonds with Boyle as a disappointment. This could pan out to be an interesting battle for the latter.
Jack Johnson (21) – Matt Greene (25)
Sean O’Donnell (37) – Drew Doughty (18)
Tom Preissing (29) – Denis Gauthier (32)
Peter Harrold (25)
If the Kings decide to run with 6 defenders, Harrold could potentially head back to Manchester. Or if the Monarchs need a veteran on their young roster, I could see Gauthier being shipped over. This would conversely cause the third D pairing to be smaller, but the pairings could be easily shifted around to accommodate the play depending on who the Kings were up against. We know that Doughty and Harrold are more offensive-minded while O’Donnell and Gauthier are the shutdown types. Preissing can get in the mix on the PP or use his positional play on the backend, so I don’t see this as being too much of a problem. That being said... O’Donnell and Gauthier? It could obviously be better, so we shall see. If Murray runs his PPs in the regular season as he has during the preseason, we’ll see only one Dman per shift. I’m pretty sure Doughty will get to be on one unit, but I am unsure who would be the other Dman… Preissing? You know what, now that I’m 100% sure Kevin Dallman won’t be on the point for the PP, I’ll be happy with whoever is out there. Gauthier and Greene obviously got a lot of time on the PK during preseason, so I don’t think I’ll be too surprised there.
Jason LaBarbera (28)
Erik Ersberg (26)
The assigning of Jonathan Quick to Manchester bring us back to the goalie tandem that was set for… just a few games last season. When Barbs was out because of his hernia surgery, Ersberg found himself in a tandem with all those random other folks, Dan Cloutier included (puke). I’m glad that Murray named Barbs as the number one as opposed to last season where Marc Crawford had Barbs and J.S. Aubin on a rotation. This season is Barbs' to take. He came into camp leaner and has stated as such; so as he gets more games under his belt, I'll be hoping he can play to his potential with Ersberg providing sound backup for him. I'm not sure what Ersberg's potential could be. He played in a few games last season and could possibly step in if need be. In any case, I'll be nervous for any goalie in a Kings jersey if the defense doesn't get its act together.
Here's hoping for a great start to the season!
Where's that bottle opener....
x-posted to A Queen Among Kings