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Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Kings Off-Season Preview

Here are the people with set roles next season:

Brown-Kopitar-[ ]
Frolov-[ ]-[ ]
[ ]-Handzus-[ ]
Ivanans-[ ]-[ ]

Johnson-Blake
Visnovsky-[ ]
Preissing-Harrold

Labarbera
[ ]

Yikes. One of the good (or bad) things about Marc Crawford is that players on the team get very diverse. Brown was a right wing but I'm pretty sure he's been on Kopitar's left side for most of the season, O'Sullivan played all 3 offensive positions and 3 different offensive roles (scorer, playmaker and shutdown wing). This is good because it makes the team flexible, but it's annoying because it means I have no idea what the team will look like next season. I'm not going to try to project what Lombardi is going to do next season, because he's a tricky bastard. Instead, I'm just going to say what I'd like to see for next year. And away we go...

Disclaimer: I'm assuming 3 things. 1, that the Kings won't make very many free agent signings, because Dean Lombardi said he didn't like that. 2, about 4 or 5 guys from the minor league ranks will make the team because he said that in this weekend's LA Times. And 3, I'm not assuming trades (so you'll have to deal with Cammalleri on the team for a little while longer).

The Kings were not good this year. Everyone knows that. Our biggest problem was that we allowed too many shots and didn't score enough. (Other than that, we were fine.) I would like the Kings to shore things up on defense (which I actually don't think will be very hard) and

The Kings are actually pretty set on defense; there's really only 2 spots up for grabs. The first is on a line with Lubo. Ideally that player would be bigger (to cover the front of the net) and be solid enough defensively to allow Lubo to do his thing. I'd like that player to be Mike Commodore. He's 27, could probably be had for around $3-4 million a year, and I don't think Ottawa has been too happy with his play so I think he'd be available. If we couldn't get him, I'd be happy with Jason Smith (assuming we could sign him for just 2 years). I don't really want anyone else and would rather go with someone from Manchester or even Thomas Hickey.

On offense, I'd like to build the team from the 3rd line out. Our biggest problem this season was the fact that other teams could basically set up at will in our own zone and we had no line that could do anything about it. To fix this, I'd like to assemble this line:

Cliche-Handzus-O'Sullivan

Handzus should be better next year with an off-season to rebuild his knee and O'Sullivan could provide offense and defense from the right side. Marc-Andre Cliche is the wild card, but he's been playing outstanding lately since coming back from an injury down in Manchester and I think he could really help this team next year. If for some reason he's not ready, then I guess either Matt Moulson or Matt Ellis could take his place.

With O'Sullivan on the third line, Cammalleri would take his place with Brown and Kopitar. I like that line; it's one you would build in NHL '08 because it gives you a power forward, playmaket and sniper all on the same line. Cammalleri will be playing for a contract next year and since he was injured twice this year (remember, he pulled his groin but didn't sit any games in December), I think he'll be much better.

The 2nd line is the tricky one. O'Sullivan would have to be replaced, either as a center or a wing. The person I'd like to replace him with? Pavol Demitra. I know, he's injury-prone, but I think we could replace him because of our depth next year. Plus, he's good friends with Lubo, he gels extremely well with Frolov, and he can play either right wing or center. If he's a wing, you could probably slot Brian Boyle in the center and not worry about him being out of place. If Demitra plays center, you can put Purcell on that line and tell him to shoot.

The 4th line will have Ivanans on it, but hopefully he won't play every game. I like the guy a lot and he's not a bad player, but he takes too many hooking penalties for my taste. Of course, when he's not in the line-up that means Zeiler probably will be, so God help us. If Boyle plays on the second line, then I'd probably settle for Armstrong as a 4th line center, a role he's perfect for. Either Matt Ellis or Zeiler could be on his right wing. If Purcell takes that 2nd line job, then I'd like to see a line like Ivanans-Boyle-Armstrong. That's an outstanding 4th line, if I do say so myself.

Goaltending-wise, the Kings are in good shape. Labarbera is probably not a clear-cut #1 goaltender, but he proved enough this season to start there next year. Ersberg also proved he deserves consideration, so I imagine he'll push his way into around 20-25 games next year. Jonathan Bernier is the wild card; hopefully the Kings can break him in like the Canadians did with Carey Price this season.

To recap, in case you just skimmed all that other shit:

Brown-Kopitar-Cammalleri
Frolov-Demitra-Purcell
Cliche-Handzus-O'Sullivan
Ivanans-Boyle-Armstrong

Johnson-Blake
Visnovsky-Commodore
Preissing-Harrold (or other defenseman from Manchester

Zeiler, Dallman in the press box

Labarbera/Ersberg/Bernier

Any questions? Leave them in the comments. Or, ridicule me because it's April and I'm already looking ahead to next season.

6 comments:

Earl Sleek said...

I would like the Kings to shore things up on defense (which I actually don't think will be very hard) and

Left me hanging here, but generally, I think it's a workable gameplan.

So the plan is to take Cloutier out behind the barn and shoot him? I think that works.

chris in torrance said...

I'm more interested in Daymond Langkow as a second line center than Pavol Demitra. There are 5 good defensemen that I'm interested in
1. Mike Commodore OTT
2. Ron Hainsey CBJ
3. Brooks Orpick PIT
4. Jeff Finger COL
5. Kurt Sauer COL

I like LaBarbera and Ersberg in net for next season and Bernier the following season when LaBarbera is a free agent.

Earl Sleek said...

There are 5 good defensemen that I'm interested in.

Hmm, all I see is four good defensemen and Kurt Sauer.

chris in torrance said...

I did list Sauer last.

I saw a story yesterday that said the Kings have told Cloutier that he is not in the plans for next season, so I'm hoping to see a buyout soon.

RudyKelly said...

-I don't trust Hainsey outside of Columbus' system.

-Orpik hits and scrums and all that, but he doesn't actually play good defense.

-I don't think Finger is good enough to play top-4 minutes.

-Kurt Sauer.

I don't really like Langkow; if we're picking up a Calgary center... well, you know which one I'd like.

Nut said...

Why don't we trade Cloutier to the Ducks for a 7th rounnder? It worked before...
Also, I say we bank on Ottawa falling in the first round against Pit due to lack of offense with Alfreddson and Fisher out; in the offseason, fresh from early defeat and anxious to get back to the top, they trade us Anton Volchenkov (my favorite player outside of the Kings) for Cammi; then doves fly out from behind Dean Lombardi and a single tear falls off my cheek.

A guy can dream, can't he?