Early Winners and Losers of the Los Angeles Kings Offseason
The Los Angeles Kings and Chicago Blackhawks have won the past two Stanley Cups, but other than that, they don't have much in common. The Blackhawks seem to lose key players after their Stanley Cup runs, whereas the Kings manage to keep most of their team together.
With that said, Kings general manager Dean Lombardi has still been busy early on in the offseason. A number of players have benefited from trades and signings, while a few may be worse off than they were last season.
Here are some of the winners and losers of the Kings' offseason thus far.
Salary information courtesy of Capgeek.
Winner: Jonathan Bernier
For Jonathan Bernier, one long journey has finally come to an end, while another is just getting underway.
There aren’t too many players who would be happy to leave Los Angeles, but if you’re a young goaltender not named Jonathan Quick, you would probably look for a way out.
After over a year of speculation, Bernier was traded to the Toronto Maple Leafs in exchange for forward Matt Frattin and goaltender Ben Scrivens. Bernier, a restricted free agent, agreed to a two-year, $5.8 million contract with the Maple Leafs.
The 24-year-old netminder has been one of the NHL’s most reliable backups in recent years and appears ready to take on a starting role. He will have that opportunity in Toronto, but not without some stiff competition from James Reimer.
Bernier has waited a while to be traded. Not unlike Roberto Luongo, he has handled the situation with class.
Loser: Ben Scrivens
There were times during the 2013 season when it appeared Ben Scrivens had the potential to compete for the starting job in Toronto.
Now he finds himself on a team with one of the world’s best goaltenders in Jonathan Quick. Therefore, he will likely only appear in 10 to 15 games next season. Scrivens will have a better chance at winning the Stanley Cup and will learn from LA’s franchise goalie, but it’s still a bit of a step back for him.
The 26-year-old netminder spent the last few years climbing the ranks of the Maple Leafs organization.
Undrafted out of Cornell, Scrivens got started with the ECHL’s Reading Royals before making the jump to the Toronto Marlies and eventually the Maple Leafs.
It will be an interesting adjustment for Scrivens to make as he enters the final year of a two-year contract worth just $1.225 million. The question now is if he can perform well enough in his limited starts with LA to generate interest from other NHL squads.
Winner: Slava Voynov
The biggest winner of the Kings offseason thus far is defenseman Slava Voynov.
Just 23 years old, Voynov signed a six-year, $25 million contract with the Kings. The deal makes him the second-highest-paid blueliner on the team behind Drew Doughty and the Kings’ sixth-highest-paid player overall.
The 6'0", 190-pound Russian made dramatic improvements from 2012 to 2013 to become a well-rounded defenseman. Voynov has good speed, quick hands and great hockey sense. He's a sound defender in his own zone. He can play physical, block shots and perhaps most notably, he has tremendous offensive upside.
Voynov was a crucial part of the team’s 2013 playoff run, scoring six goals, the most ever by an LA blueliner in a single playoffs.
Voynov’s best years are still ahead of him. He and Doughty have the potential to become two of the most valuable defensemen in franchise history, joining the likes of Rob Blake and Mattias Norstrom.
Loser: Dustin Penner
We are now over a week into the NHL’s free-agent frenzy, and Dustin Penner is still unemployed.
The 30-year-old power forward is coming off a one-year, $3.25 million contract that he signed after helping the Kings win their first Stanley Cup. And, even if he wants to re-sign with the team, Penner could be on his way out of Los Angeles. The Kings are running out of cap space and still have a few restricted free agents to sign.
With that in mind, Penner may miss the team more than they will miss him. He worked well in Darryl Sutter’s system and played hard regardless of what line he was on.
He may not produce at the same rate as he did earlier in his career, but Penner can still be an effective player. He offers great size, physicality and has significant playoff experience, having won two Stanley Cups with two different teams.
When he does finally sign a contract, Penner could become an instant "winner," depending on what the deal’s worth and which team it’s with.
Winner: Dean Lombardi
Los Angeles general manager Dean Lombardi didn't land a star free agent or even draft a player in the first round. But he continues to keep the core of the team that won the 2012 Stanley Cup intact.
In fact, the Kings have 11 key players under contract through at least 2014-15 and have just over $3 million remaining in cap space.
In trading Jonathan Bernier, not only did Lombardi acquire Ben Scrivens, he also added a solid young forward in Matt Frattin. The 25-year-old makes Penner’s looming departure a little easier to swallow. He should be able to have an immediate impact on the third line.
Lombardi also made a trade at the 2013 NHL entry draft which could pay off in the long run.
The Kings sent three picks to the Edmonton Oilers in order to obtain the 37th pick overall, which would be their highest of the day. The Kings used it to select Russian forward Valentin Zykov of the QMJHL’s Baie-Comeau Drakkar. Zykov finished second on the team in scoring and was named the 2013 CHL rookie of the year.
Lombardi’s most recent move was signing restricted free agent Alec Martinez, as the Kings announced on their website. His next task will be reaching agreements with three more RFAs—Kyle Clifford, Trevor Lewis and Jordan Nolan.