Last season the L.A. Kings had the potential to make a deep playoff run up until the late injury to Anze Kopitar. Since then, Lombardi, Robitaille and Hextall have made some great moves over the last week and a half to better the franchise in L.A.
Yes, L.A. gave up some youth in a recent trade of Simmonds and Schenn but picked up a key leader and two-way forward in Mike Richards and now signed free agent Simon Gagne. I think the Kings want to make a run for a Cup now rather than in a couple of years, hence giving up some youth for some already proven warriors.
I have to admit that there are plenty of ties to the Flyers' organization now, and I can see why it is an inviting spot for former Flyers to come play! Gagne and Richards could easily form one of the top second lines in the Pacific division or entire league for that matter.
Freeing up $6,250,000.00 in cap space by sending Ryan Smyth back to the familiar Oil Fields of Western Canada was definitely a great business decision for the Kings.
Mike Richards is more than just a 30 goal scorer. He has a defensive game but can also put the big ones in the net when needed. In fact, sometimes he prefers to score double shorthanded as well—just ask the Rangers. Richards is a leader (despite the recent criticisms of his Captancy in Philly) on the ice, and he is a guy you want out there whether it be in practice or a game situation.
Does he like to party like a Rock Star? Yes, on occasion I believe he does like to let loose but not like he once did on off nights with Lupul and Carter. Richard’s all around game is sometimes underrated in this league with so much young/raw talent these days. I think Richards could easily have a 30-40-70 point season.
Simon Gagne is another great guy to have around the arena. He is a two-time 40-goal scorer, but expect more like 22–35–57 out of him this season if he can manage to stay healthy.
That has always been a concern for Gagne, the 11-year veteran who did have a decent season with Tampa but again missed 19 games last season. He is a key veteran and is no stranger to big playoff performances and GWG’s—just ask the Bruins!
I have been riding Quick and Bryzgalov in my fantasy pools for the last 2-3 seasons and have to admit that the Kings already have two solid young goalies in Quick and Bernier, a good defensive crew with Doughty, Johnson, Willie Mitchell, Scuderi, Greene and Drewiske.
Now that some key veterans are familiar with each other an the coaching staff and some management, I believe the Kings will take off this year. Kopitar is one of the most skilled players in the league, and considering he's still skating with guys like Brown, Stoll, Williams, Penner and the new Flyer editions...lookout
The Kings still need to work out a deal with Doughty but currently have apox. $20 million left under the salary cap. This gives them some flexibility to get even better as time marched forward.
Needless to say, the Kings have become my team from the Western Conference. From classy ex-players in the front office, to the new ex-Flyer additions, to the already young but experienced nucleus, this team has potential. And if it can lock up a few current players long-term, this will be a force for years to come!
I look forward to watching them this season!
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