As the remains of my playoff beard fell into the sink, I pondered about what we witnessed in this Bettman induced short 2012-2013 season and the exciting but gray hair inducing playoffs. My mind wandered from player to player until I realized, “hey stupid, this is why you have a blog.”
2013-2014 Salary Cap
2013-2014 L.A. Kings Cap Space
Now, onto the boys…
I am starting with the goalies because it is the most important position in hockey…and because I love goalies.
Not much to talk about regarding Quick. His offseason surgery slowed him down, he got into top form just in time for the playoffs and he is very much the franchise at the moment. He has shown that he can walk on water (the frozen kind) and while he struggled at times against Chicago, I don’t expect the guy to feed an entire team with one fish every game.
While Quick is under contract, Bernier is not and we’ve all read and heard that he wants to be traded. Dean Lombardi’s dilemma is the perceived lack of leverage. Trading a player other GMs know you are going to lose doesn’t scream a well touted prospect, roster player or a 1st.
I expect Bernier to hold out to maximize his chances of being traded.
I expect Dean Lombardi will not let it get that far.
What I would like to see is Jonathan Bernier packaged with other defensemen (see below) and/or a pick to the Philadelphia Flyers (who badly need D) for Sean Couturier and/or Brayden Schenn. It could be a combination of things but I think Bernier is the Flyers’ starting goalie.
“Er, Scribe, Bryzgalov?” Amnesty young Padawan…amnesty.
What I believe will happen is we will get less for Bernier from Philly.
Either way, Jonathan Bernier is gone.
The Core Forwards
Dustin Brown, Anze Kopitar, Justin Williams, Mike Richards, Jeff Carter, Jarret Stoll.
Dustin Brown’s regular season was okay, nothing special…his playoffs were not. He was injured against the Sharks (PCL injury) and he stated that did not cause pain, but it did affect his mobility. As a captain, I expect more from Dustin Brown and the Cup hangover + the short season + the injury all give him a pass.
Anze Kopitar had a good regular season until he stopped scoring goals and that followed through into the playoffs. He was, by far, the biggest disappointment in these playoffs and I still have not heard or read that he was playing injured to the point it affected his performance. The normally defensive minded Kopi wasn’t his Selke-esq self. Overall, whatever demons got into Anze’s head in the last 20 or so games and into the playoffs need to be drilled out because our first line goes as Kopitar goes and his lack of offensive production was one reason we didn’t get past Chicago.
Jarret Stoll was Jarret Stoll – a defensively responsible center with good speed, great faceoff ability and who will occasionally contribute on offense. Exactly as advertised since he joined the Kings.
I am a little worried about Mike Richards. If my count is correct, this is the second concussion he has suffered with the Kings. As these pile up, they become seismic. Regardless, Mike Richards showed why he’s money. In the playoffs, he plays his best. He contributes at both ends and, without him, the team suffers at every inch of the ice, especially in the dirty areas of the offensive zone. While his two-way game left a little to be desired during the regular season, Mike Richards contributes enough offense and brings enough leadership that you can look past the mistakes.
Jeff Carter…all he does is score goals. Love him? No, LOVE him. One of the best releases in the game, he has brought sexy back to the L.A. Kings offense. What’s more, he is defensively responsible, good in the faceoff circle and has a skill set that allows him to play wing or center. This season, with full health, Carter showed us that he is just as important to the Kings as Anze Kopitar and Dustin Brown.
I saved the best for last. Justin Williams…what a season and playoffs to boot. It’s hard to believe he is 31 years old because it feels like yesterday that we acquired him. He added a defensive acumen to his normally steady offensive game. His ability to maneuver himself and the puck to the middle of the ice and into the open areas was only second to Jeff Carter. If this season is what we can hope to get from Justin in the next two until he reaches UFA status, then color me excited.
The Core Defensemen
Drew Doughty, Slava Voynov, Matt Greene, Rob Scuderi, Willie Mitchell.
Let’s start with Willie Mitchell…yeah, I got nothing. His career may be over. Don’t know. Not even sure he knows. I do know he has one more year left on his contract and if Willie is done, can we buy him out while he is on IR? Someone ask Quisp.
Drew Doughty. A growing season. A maturing season. An odd season. Matt Greene’s absence caused Drew to try and be Matt Greene and Drew Doughty. Drew is much better when he just tries to be Drew. While he put the entire defensive burden on his shoulder (and didn’t do a bad job of it), we saw Drew at his best when played his game. He is defensively responsible, offensively gifted, has hockey sense and instincts off the charts and is the L.A. Kings most important asset next to Jonathan Quick. The Chicago series…yeah, he struggled. But his injury as well as a complete lack of offensive support didn’t help.
Slava Voynov. He is Dean Lombardi’s number 1 priority this offseason. Slava, next to Doughty, is our best skating defenseman. While I am sure he is going to have a few nightmares at that pinch in double overtime that caused the two on one and ultimately cost us the game against Chicago, where the hell would we have been against Chicago without his clutch scoring? All you can ask of young defensemen is to get better. Voynov did that on both ends of the ice. It’s going to be fun watching him grow.
Matt Greene’s presence, leadership and punishing defensive style is why he was so sorely missed. From the moment of his return, the L.A. Kings looked more like themselves than they ever had for most of the season. I don’t think we beat the Sharks without Greene. He was and is that important to our blue line and the front of Quick’s crease.
Rob Scuderi. Priority number 2 of Dean Lombardi’s off season. Rob has slowed down. He is past his prime. He is also likely on his last contract. Dean has a tough decision to make. Does he re-sign Scuderi to 3 years or let him walk where I assure you someone else will? I do know this – his positioning on defense and ability to take away lanes keeps a lot of high quality scoring shots from ever getting to Jonathan Quick. If we lose him, we better have a great 1b.
The Role Players
Dustin Penner, Trevor Lewis, Brad Richardson, Colin Fraser, Kyle Clifford, Alec Martinez, Robyn Regehr, Keaton Ellerby.
Dustin Penner. He is gone. Dean won’t resign him…well, let me rephrase. I would not resign him. He plays well in the playoffs but he is not worth the cap hit and he takes far too many games and shifts off during the season. I know he’s popular. I don’t care. I don’t want to see Penner back.
Trevor Lewis is a Dean Lombardi kind of player. His speed and defensive game makes him critical to any team that wants players who shut down opposing ones. Trevor had a good season and I would even say his overall game was better. This kind of thing is hard to gauge in a shortened regular season but Trevor, if he continues to improve, may work himself into the “core” category.
Brad Richardson. He won’t get much in the open market but if younger players are going to start working their way into the fourth line, there is no place for players like Brad. Besides, he is going to want to play somewhere he gets to play.
Colin Fraser. I don’t know what to make of him. He had an average season. He’s an average player. He takes dumb penalties. He means well. He brings some sandpaper. He is cheap. I guess I do know what to make of him.
Kyle Clifford. He had his moments, just not enough of them, in the regular season and playoffs. Kyle seems to be at a cross roads of “who am I?” Is he a depth, checking forward who will play defensively responsible and bring the offense every once in a while? Is he a young top 6 in the making who hasn’t found his offensive stride? Is he an enforcer? The Big Red Dog is a little of all of these things. I just want him to be Kyle Clifford so he can be Adam Graves. That isn’t too much to ask, right?
Alec Martinez. I like Alec. I like him a hell of a lot more than Jake Muzzin but Alec struggled this season. I believe that had to do with his pre-season injuries as well as the in-season one. Martinez is the right choice for the bottom pairing. I like his game too much to see him go anywhere. I am not so sure Dean feels the same way.
Robyn Regehr. Good against St. Louis. Good against San Jose. Terrible against Chicago. The sampling size is too small to form an opinion on Regehr. We have two more years to figure him out…thanks Dean.
Keaton Ellerby. Almost didn’t put him under role players. Wanted to create a category of “don’t let the door hit you in the ass on the way out” but decided against it. Keaton, don’t let the door hit you in the ass on the way out.
Tyler Toffoli, Dwight King, Jordan Nolan, Jake Muzzin, Tanner Pearson.
Tyler Toffoli. He has too many nicknames. That is the first thing that needs to change. But is the kid dangerous offensively! Tyler is a young projected top 6 forward on a good team but, on the Kings, there isn’t a lot of room at RW for him in the top six. I can see Tyler becoming a fixture on this team, I just don’t know where that would be yet.
Dwight King. He has nobody to blame but himself. He set the bar so damn high after last season’s playoffs that we expected the same thing. Instead, we got Dwight King, circa the Terry Murray era. He is big. He is handsome. He can hit. He is a fourth line winger and nothing more at this point.
Jordan Nolan. Nolan is a better player than King, he’s just not as smart. Jordan has a little bit of the Kyle Clifford “what am I” syndrome. I didn’t see enough of him this season and very little in the playoffs to form any opinions about his future but I do know that he has the speed, size and skillset to be a fourth line wing alongside King and that is where I would like to see him slotted.
Jake Muzzin. He got offensively hot during the season. He was somewhere between average to terrifying with the puck during the playoffs. He had a couple of games that helped you see the kid’s potential. Overall, unless he signs a 1 or 2 year contract, very cheap, I don’t see him back with the team although I think Dean likes him and may keep him.
Tanner Pearson. Er…incomplete.
Let’s look again at the free agents…
UNRestricted Free Agents
Dustin Penner, Brad Richardson, Rob Scuderi
My opinion: Dustin Penner is gone, Brad Richardson is gone, Rob Scuderi is resigned if he takes 2 years.
Restricted Free Agents
Kyle Clifford, Trevor Lewis, Jordan Nolan, Slava Voynov, Alec Martinez, Keaton Ellerby, Jake Muzzin, Jonathan Bernier.
Kyle Clifford is resigned as are Trevor Lewis, Jordan Nolan and Slava Voynov. Alec Martinez is the wild card because whether he resigns could impact Muzzin. Ellerby is gone. Bernier is traded.
Busting a Cap
$11.8 million in cap space
– Voynov with a $3.8 cap hit, 4 years
– Scuderi with a $3.0 cap hit, 2 years (maybe 3 but I don’t think Dean will do it)
– Kyle Clifford with a $1.2 cap hit, 3 years
– Trevor Lewis with a $1.2 cap hit, 3 years
– Jordan Nolan with an $800K cap hit, 2-3 years
– Alec Martinez with a $1M cap hit, 2-3 years
Crazy stuff that could occur
Edmonton Oilers or another team give an offer sheet to Slava Voynov.
Alec Martinez is signed and then traded to Philadelphia along with Jonathan Bernier
Rob Scuderi gets overpaid by another team
Dean goes after Matt Cooke in free agency
If Dean loses Scuderi, he goes after Andrew Ference in free agency
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