L.A. Kings Season Review, Forecast and Free Agency

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.”

First, numbers…

2013-2014 Salary Cap

$64,300,000.0

2013-2014 L.A. Kings Cap Space

$11,842,273.00

Now, onto the boys…

The Goalies

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.

Prediction…

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.

The Youth

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



Categories: L.A. Kings News

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32 replies

  1. The Bernier to Philly deal (with Matt Read (LW) coming back) was supposedly talked at the trade deadline but DL wanted to wait until the Cup run was over. And nothing the Kings have that is tradable will get you Schenn or Couturier. Matt Read (my fav. Flyer, one terrific (and fast) two way player (LW) who is solid in all 3 zones. Smart, fast as hell and rarely makes a mistake) would be a perfect fit on the 2nd line with MR and JC. He’ll quickly be a fan favorite, hustles all the time, no downside in his game, great on the PK. The Flyers will probably flip (Schenn I hope, Coots is a more valuable player, so knowing Homer’s past history (see JVR and Bob most recently) didtates that Coots will go) one of those 2 for a D, (Yandle is the name being tossed around along with (I hope no) Byfllien. and a recent rumor that had them using one of the 2 to move up in the draft. Would have been a whole lot easier not to win 5 of your last 6 games when you have already been eliminated and thus drop a few spots in the draft order.

    Gonchar getting 10 mill will /might change what Scuds and Slava’s agents will ask. For example, Mark Streit is asking for north or 5.5 mill multi year and I can’t see the Isles doing that so, Scuds at north of 4 would work for them. I love Scuds but I think he’ll want more $ and years then the Kings can afford. And signing RR was insurance against that I think . I don’t think you get Slava for less than 4 to 4/5.
    Jack Ferriera said in an interview last week that Vey would be on the Kings next year . So it stand to reason he’ll take Fraser’s slot for a couple of years until Stoll’s contract is up.
    I can’t see keeping both King and Nolan. Richardson and Penner are gone.

    • Deirdre, are you the one who said that you would drive Brayden Schenn to the airport yourself to get rid of him? I’m just asking because I want to know if you’re the Flyers fan. At the moment I just can’t seem to remember. It makes no difference to me one way or the other if you are, as I always enjoy your takes, but your input, if you are the Flyers fan, about the Flyers, means a lot. Because if you are, then your take on Matt Read carries more weight.

      • Yes, that was me. I didn’t buy int othe ‘he’s the greatest thing since sliced white bread’ that Melrose and TSN pundits were spinning. I actually googled and searched until I found scouting reports from his last year with the Wheat Kings and Blades. What they saw then is what I still see. IN the O zone, he’s fine, strong to the net, hard in the corners, physical, will fight, drives the net. etc. But he doesn’t do it consistently. the 46 poins in 110 games wouldn’t bother me after 2 years, but what does is what those scouts said (and what I see) is the work he need s to do in the neutral zone and D zone. He loses far too many of his board battles, esp for a guy his size. He doesn’t protect himself or the puck very well and tends to get hit/hurt for that reason. He consistanly makes the wrong decision with the puck and gets way too many turnovers. And he tends to shrink in critical situations. And he this year he was actually worse than last. He seems to fare much better on wing. being a center is a tough job, you have to good in your own zone, fearless and confident. He does much better on wing because there is less pressure. Cooter is better at center and if they keep both, Schenn would be better as his winger. with Briere one (we hope)
        What I see is a good offensive player, a 25 g, 60 point player who won’t be a defensive stud and will be better suited as a role player, not a leader. He’s been terribly unimpressive his first 2 years. If they are gonna flip him or Cooter for D, he’d be the one I’d send. Two more years, and about 20 lbs of weight and Cooter will be one of the best 2 way playrs in the game, he’s that good.
        I am very black and white about the Flyers, I dn’t wear orange glasses and sit in my lawn chair on broad st waiting for a parade that isn’t coming. Homer has taken backward steps for the last few years. Weak farm system because too many picks traded awa y for nothing. Up agsint thE CaP every year, Giving up picks at the deadline for every layer with one skate I nthe grave (‘he’s a vet presense…) okay, Mike Knuble…really? Foster another waste…(he’s a big guy with a big shot) and slower than Fred Flinstones crane at work. It never ends with him. We get Bryz, the cosmonaut and contract from hell and trade Bob (vezina) …sigh.
        Kings are lucky very lucky to havea smart GM that knows you build a champion you don’t buy one.
        If the rumor or Read is true, he’ll be a solid fit. one of the very few bright spots this year, team was awful all year, no leadership, no drive, lazy, awful. He wasn’t, he was one of the few who did push, try and no disappear. Just so much to like about his game.

        • Thanks, Deirdre! You are awesome.

        • Deirdre, I live in Regina, Saskatchewan and watch junior hockey all the time so its needless to say I have seen Schenn play the Regina Pats countless times. You are spot on with your assessment of his play. This is why immedeatly I loved the trade for Richards, as Schenn will never come close to the all round player Richards is.

          And yes I would rather see Read coming back in any deal for Bernier than Schenn.

    • Matt Read, eh? Okay, I will check the kid out.

  2. my thinking is that we need Rob Scuderi even at 3 years. In the latter year and a half let’s say he slides down a pairing, isn’t he still worth it to settle down the kids? Because whichever puckmover is paired with him, prospers. Dustin Penner, his dead weight during the regular season…. I can almost live with for what he brings in the playoffs, I am on the fence. Trevor Lewis is a must keep at all costs. In short, I know this team was beat up, and I am very very proud of this team to have made it to the WCF. This will be the first upcoming season in which we get a full training camp with Darryl Sutter. We have so much to young talent already in the NHL and waiting in the wings, unless there is horrible mismanagement we can expect another Cup or two very soon.

  3. Some other UFAs that I would like to hear your opinion on Scribe:
    Ron Hainsey, Mark Fistric, Scott Hannan for the D-men
    Clarke MacArthur, Eric Nystrom, Bickell and Stalberg for the LW’s
    Iginla, Ryder, David Clarkson for the RW’s
    Backup goalies?

  4. I think you’re crazy.

    Crazy if you think we can get Voynov for 3.8.

    Crazy if you think Dean will let Muzzin go.

    Crazy for being so interested in the offseason when the playoff wound is still fresh.

    Also, you didn’t write this many words combined the whole season. No more Kings hockey and suddenly your fingers work again? ;)

    • Im not so sure it’s a wound. This team, admittedly or not, was BEAT UP. STL, and SJ gave us a tremendous pounding. Whether or not Kopitar admits to being hurt, he was. All season. That this team held it together, and made the WCF……is awesome. I’n not wounded. I’m proud of this team. With a full offseason to reset, and a first full training camp under DS….I have zero worries. We have a great pipeline, great scouting , great coaching, great management, and great players. Ghis entire season is tarnished anyhow. The playoffs coincided with what is the usual mid-season slump. But for Kopitar to go 33 games w/ 2 goals….something was wrong. The breakouts were disastrous, there was zero practice time all season long due to a compact schedule…and with all the rookies playing, I’m proud of this team and I have no complaints.

  5. Kopitar is on a conference call now (via John Hoven, mayors manor) does not require surgery and said he had no significant injury during the playoffs.

    #LAKings Kopitar – ‘No secret that we needed more from me this post-season…wish I could put my finger on it, cold streak at wrong time’

  6. For what its worth, Brown was on a 32 goal pace for the regular season. I think that is a little bit more than just having an “okay” season.

  7. I’m going to take a few weeks off from this hockey gig before I start talking about the future, but I’ll leave you with one comment…Gonchar, two years, 10 mil…are frick’n kidding me? Nice way to set the market value, dipshits! That is all.

  8. You think Voynov will go for that price? I think we may end up with another hold out situation.
    I bet he tries to get a big payday. I think we should try to sign Scuds at almost any cost. Obviously not breaking the bank but fuck it if we wants 3 yrs at a higher price, give him 4-5 years a little lower. Without Mitchell we need that guy badly. What he does takes years to learn. We need that veteran defensive expertise and the kids won’t have it for years. I don’t understand the Regehr signing. The guy is not doing anything special other than pinning guys.
    He just dumps the puck.

    • Voynov has two had two good years, one of which was not a full time gig (last season) and this year was a shortened season. For me, he still has a lot to prove. Teams will overpay for him but contenders will not. If he really wants to be overpaid and go to a place like Edmonton, sure, we could lose him. His market value is between $3.5 to $4.5 with the Cap dropping to $64, $4.5 being high. If Dean wants to give him term and lower the cap hit, that is fine with me.

      • I was refering to scuds on the term part (3 or 4-5yrs) but yeah voynov could be spread out. I think he’s at least proved hes a fairly dependable NHL Dman with a great offensive game and that is worthy of some term at his age.
        I agree he has more to prove to justify big $$$ I just think his agent will hammer the playoff goal total and the gwgs he scored and say this kid is worth x and we can get it. I agree with you on what should be market value though as someone else pointed out if gonchar can get overpayed they just fucked the market

  9. You guys need to look at other RFA d men that have recently signed, NO WAY Voynov gets anything near $5 mill. He will get a bridge contract worth $2.5-3 mill over 2 years. Both Subban and Del Zotto got similar contracts to this and have better numbers in their careers than VV does.

    As for Bernier I agree that he will likely be traded with Martinez for a package that includes Read from Flyers as Deirdre states above.

  10. Some potential buyout candidates could add to the FA pool. At the right price: Heatley, Havlat, or Malone would look real good with Carts & Richie (and a healthy Malone, although very unlikely to ever be healthy, would accomplish that Philly connection we all know and love).

  11. Wow, what a great report! Thanks.

  12. Don’t everyone forget about Vey. Perhaps I need to do a prospects report… maybe in tandem with Jungle Dave… because I think Vey takes Richardson’s spot in the lineup.

  13. So, Regher’s already falling apart… How much did we pay for him?

  14. Some are critical of RR. I think he is a good pickup with WM out and the uncertainty over Scuds.
    Sure he wasn’t fast and did make mistakes, but we got him near deadline, minimal practices and in a compact as all fuck season.

    With him healthy, in camp, practicing and developing chemistry, I see improvement.
    Not to mention RR can talk big hits with MG and DB.
    KC and DD can learn a lot there, from all three.

    RR seems the gentle giant, I see his off ice worth being very valuable.
    Plus, DS has been with him before. And of anyone to bring along, he is the first.
    I think that speaks a lot about RR.

    • Despite what others may say, I think Regehr did a good job at just not fucking up since we got him…he’s dependable. I just think we paid too much for a guy likely to fall apart.

  15. Carter can play LW.

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