As we approach the halfway mark of the season, here are the highs and lows of the system.
The best story so far is Joe Rullier. He is quickly emerging as the top defensive prospect in the Kings system. He has shown the grit the Kings like at the blue line and has added some solid offense. Rullier was the only Kings’ representative on Canada’s WJC team and has put up solid numbers for Rimouski of the QMJHL.
The most concerning story is Scott Barney. The Kings have been so hush-hush about this that one can only wonder what the problem is. To the best of my knowledge, Barney is still nursing a back injury and is not even skating right now. This is the big centerman the Kings have longed for. An unfavorable diagnosis would make a thin pipeline even thinner.
What to watch out for is firstly, Barney. Will he play this season? Secondly is how Pavel Rosa emerges. He has been decent in Long Beach, but where is the goal scoring? Is he moping in Long Beach or is this what the guy is? The Kings seem like they would have to at least give him a cup of coffee this season, even if it is to show him for trade.
The biggest surprise is probably Frankie Kaberle. Despite recent healthy scratches, he has been a consistent contributor to the Kings. He spent no time in the minors, anchored the power play and stayed home while defensive partner Garry Galley spent more time down low than most forwards. Kaberle benefited from Jere Karalahti’s delayed arrival and has not looked back. He gives the Kings a nice complement to the physical defenseman on the roster and in the system.
The Came-As-Advertised Award would have to go to Karalahti. His arrival has been so anticipated that this page has turned in to his personal diary. Now that he is getting ice time he is impressing. His shot is blistering and he hits anyone that comes near him, just ask Pavol Demitra.
The Where Have You Gone Award goes to Don MacLean and Sean Blanchard. Both have battled injury and have been average at best.
The Turn it On and Off Award goes to Alexey Volkov. Volkov has been inconsistent in Halifax and Cory Campbell in right on his tail in the Kings system. Then he went to the WJC’s and had an exceptional tournament. Have the Kings ever had a highly drafted goaltender who was a mental enigma and could amaze you with his talent and weakness in the same game?
The High Points Award goes to Andrei Shefer. Shefer has 24 goals and 25 assists in 42 games. He was not selected for Russia’s WJC team but is still putting up numbers. Shefer also leads the pipeline in assists.
The Highest Goals-Per-Game Award goes to Justin Papineau. He has 24 goals in 33 games. Papineau pulled a muscle trying for the WJC’s and has struggled since.
The This Is Where You Belong Award goes to Jason Blake. His numbers in Long Beach, 3 goals and 6 assists in 9 games. His numbers with the Kings, 3 goals and 5 assists in 27 games.
The King-PIM Award goes to Kip Brennan. The Kipster has 120 PIM’s in 30 games. He is fending off Brian McGrattan (117) and Joe Rullier (112).
The Plus-Minus Awards go to Joe Rullier and Brian McGrattan. Rullier is +18 and McGrattan is -14.
The Goalie Award would go to Cory Campbell. He has a 3.52 GAA and 12 wins. He is just ahead of the more talented Alexey Volkov (3.74, 11 wins).
The Most Valuable Minor Leaguer Who Won’t Make The Kings This Year is Jason Podollan. He leads Lowell with 17 goals and 14 assists in 36 games. Why can’t he score at all with the Kings?