LA Kings: Predicting the Lines for the Next Time They Take the Ice
It's December. You're craving hockey. You deserve hockey. Sadly, here we sit, three months and two days into a lockout.
It seems in recent news, though, that things may be coming to a head in one way or another. In the next two weeks we should honestly know whether or not a season will take place. It will end a three month suffering of not knowing if or when the game will get back on the ice.
Let's keep things on the positive end, though, and say we get a season starting up at the beginning of January.
The Kings retained everyone from their Stanley Cup-winning team, and it seems the lines won't change much. However, there is definitely competition, and some spots to be had. What could the lines look like?
First Line: Brown-Kopitar-Williams
Is there any reason to break up the hottest and most dominant line of the postseason? No, there isn't.
However, it's good to remember Dustin Brown is playing on his off wing at left, and he has played before with Anze Kopitar on the same line to very little success.
Letting the hottest playoff line stay together to start the season is wise, however Darryl Sutter shouldn't be too opposed to bumping up Jeff Carter to replace Brown or Justin Williams if the line cools off.
Second Line: Gagne-Richards-Carter
A healthy Simon Gagne deserves a shot to reunite fulltime with his Philly connection teammates.
On paper, that is one very skilled line. The biggest concern though is obviously the health of these three, as none of them are big physical players who can lay out the hits. They are scrappy maybe, but not bruisers.
If Gagne can't stay healthy or the line needs a little size, it might be good to promote Dustin Penner or give Dwight King a shot. King had perhaps his most productive set of games during the season when he was paired up with Richards.
Third Line: Penner-Stoll-Lewis
This is a line that will give opposing teams nightmares: Size, speed, good faceoff ability, physicality, and an ability to score.
Trevor Lewis is a nice fit out on the right wing and can bring some solid speed to the line, he also played well enough in the post-season to warrant increased minutes.
If Penner can keep up his playoff form then he will be a handful for opponents to deal with. As always Stoll will be the solid anchor on the line with his faceoffs and defensively sound play.
Fourth Line: King-Fraser-Nolan
A big, nasty, physical and surprisingly skilled fourth line.
They proved that they were all of those things and much more in the playoffs. Jordan Nolan and Dwight King will only continue to get better as they play more and more at the NHL level, and having veteren Colin Fraser between them will be beneficial.
Andrei Loktionov is likely going to head out once the lockout is over, and Kyle Clifford could use playing time with the Monarchs. So the three spots for the Kings could fall to the following guys: Brad Richardson, Kevin Westgarth, and yes, Linden Vey.
Vey has been having a fantastic season with the Monarchs this year; he has 19 points in 27 games and is a plus-three. He is a player that looks much like a Jarret Stoll type player. If the game doesn't call for a real physical presence it might be nice to give Vey a start over Colin Fraser.
Richardson and his jack-of-all-trades ability makes him a good utility man, and Kevin Westgarth, although the enforcer role is becoming more and more limited, is a great locker room presence.
Defense: DON'T EVEN THINK ABOUT CHANGING IT
The Kings were one of the best defensive teams all season and all post-season. Why change that? Yea some forward lines may get tweaked but the defense should stay the same.
In case you don't know where they stand:
Drew Doughty - Rob Scuderi
Slava Voynov - Willie Mitchell
Alec Martinez - Matt Greene
Sutter shouldn't touch those lines at all, and he probably won't.