How Each Offseason Addition and Departure Will Affect Los Angeles Kings
The Stanley Cup champion Los Angeles Kings haven't exactly shocked the hockey world this offseason—at least not so far.
The team's core remains intact, Mike Richards included. Marian Gaborik and alternate captain Matt Greene have re-signed.
There were some notable moves, including the departure of two-time Stanley Cup winner Willie Mitchell and young Linden Vey, who appears to have a bright future.
Despite these moves, the Kings remain a top contender to win it all again next year. However, these departures and the arrival of a few new players will affect the team.
Find out how as we examine the free-agency arrivals and departures for the Kings in the offseason so far.
Departure: Willie Mitchell
Willie Mitchell has battled hard off the ice to overcome injuries and on the ice as the Kings' gritty, shutdown defender.
Many fans may brush this loss off because of Mitchell's age. Yes, he's lost a step and isn't as effective physically as he was a few years ago. However, Mitchell's departure will impact the Kings' blue line.
He brought something different to a group of young defensemen who offer speed and skill. He hit, blocked shots and was generally reliable in his own end in all situations. Mitchell averaged more than 22 minutes of ice time in the postseason, good enough for fourth on the Kings.
Without him, the Kings will have to lean more on Greene—who has also dealt with injuries in recent years—and youngsters like Brayden McNabb.
Luckily for the Kings, this is a short-term issue, and if it ends up being their biggest loss this offseason, well, general manager Dean Lombardi will only add to his stellar reputation.
Departure: Linden Vey
Linden Vey was a part of a trio of young forwards—along with Tanner Pearson and Tyler Toffoli—who made great leaps in their development year after year.
Vey was traded to the Vancouver Canucks for the 50th overall pick at the 2014 draft. According to The Canadian Press (h/t CBC.ca), new Canucks general manager Jim Benning clearly defined what Vey's role will be with the team next season:
He's ready to play in the NHL now. He'll start out as a third-line guy. I think once he's up and going, maybe it takes a year, maybe it takes a year and a half but I think he's got the skill to be a second-line centre at some point.
That shows just how deep the Kings are, as Vey played in just 18 games in the regular season and none in the playoffs. His departure will have the opposite effect of Willie Mitchell's.
It won't matter much now, or even in the next four or five seasons, but in the long term, the Kings will miss him. Vey is a dynamic player who could have played a significant role on the second or third line with Pearson and/or Toffoli in the future.
Without him on the depth chart, prospects such as Valentin Zykov and Andy Andreoff could see playing time next season.
Departure: Andrew Campbell
Andrew Campbell is a 26-year-old defenseman who has spent his entire professional career in the Kings organization since the club drafted him 74th overall in 2008.
This offseason he moved on, signing a one-year deal with the Arizona Coyotes.
Campbell has played just three games with the Kings in his career, all in 2013-14. At 6'4", 206 pounds, he offers great size but doesn't have the speed or puck skills to make consistent appearances in the Kings' lineup—even with Mitchell's departure.
Players like McNabb, Jeff Schultz and prospects such as Derek Forbort—who has a nearly identical frame at 6'4", 212 pounds—made Campbell expendable.
He has been a consistent force on the Manchester Monarchs' blue line, and his departure gives way for others to have increased ice time.
Arrivals: Adam Cracknell and David Van Der Gulik
Adam Cracknell comes to the Kings from St. Louis on a one-year, $600,000 deal. The 28-year-old has proven to be quite a pest in recent years, including against the Kings in the postseason. Cracknell brings a ton of energy and physicality to L.A. and should push players like Kyle Clifford and Trevor Lewis to earn a spot on the team.
He recorded two points in 19 games last season and added a goal in five playoff games.
Cracknell is the type of player who can jump into the lineup and have an impact on the fourth line. Look for Darryl Sutter to use him at least five to 10 times next season, regardless of the Kings' injury situation or his place on the depth chart.
David Van der Gulik
The Kings also added David Van der Gulik, a 31-year-old from Abbotsford, British Columbia. He signed a one-year, $550,000 contract.
A left winger, he stands 5'10" and weighs 173 pounds. In 48 career games with the Colorado Avalanche and Calgary Flames, he's notched two goals and 11 assists for 13 points.
Don't expect Van der Gulik to have an impact in L.A. next season, as he should spend most of the year in the AHL playing for the Monarchs. However, if the Kings run into injury problems, he and Cracknell could see time on the fourth line together.