The Los Angeles Kings may have learned a lesson they can apply to their entire system Tuesday night in Atlanta. You cannot have skilled players that you rely on without protection in the NHL. You may not need them every night, but you don’t need automobile insurance everyday. It’s just good to have it when the time comes.
Jason Allison will be out for an undetermined amount of time because of a cheap shot by 6-6, 245-pound defenseman Andy Sutton. Sutton’s knee-to-knee hit was a blatant example of the old pro wrestling adage “if you can’t beat ‘em, beat ‘em up”. Sutton will undoubtedly be suspended for a couple games which will not likely affect his four points a year average or Atlanta’s march to mediocrity. The Kings, who had the potential to be a Western Conference finalist, now face the reality that without their big gun, they are an average team at best.
With Ken Belanger and Brad Norton out as healthy scratches against one of the cheaper teams in the NHL, Andy Sutton had free reign around the ice, and he used it. Ian Laperriere is long on heart but short on girth, so his effort to extract some revenge from the larger Sutton was counterproductive; an already injury-depleted team lost another top 6 forward for 17 minutes.
Would the presence of an enforcer made the hit not happen? Probably not. Would a beating have prevented Sutton from running roughshot over the Kings the rest of the night? Absolutely. Sutton is not the most gifted fighter for his size and he would have likely taken some from Belanger and perhaps from Nor Read more»
Here are some predictions for the Kings Organization for the 2002 season:
The Manchester Monarchs start slowly, but emerge as an exciting team behind the strong offensive play of Mike Cammalleri, Scott Barney, Yannick Lehoux and Jared Aulin.
Barney leads Manchester in goal scoring. Cammalleri leads in points per game and Lehoux leads in points. Aulin struggles early to find his AHL game but finishes the season among the top three scorers on the team.
Joe Corvo has another stellar season. However, barring trade or injury, he is a Monarch the entire season.
Cristobel Huet has a solid season backing up Travis Scott. The real goalie story will be in Reading where Alexey Volkov rises from the dead to have an all-star season.
Kip Brennan edges Ryan Flinn for the PIM leader and spends a small portion of the season in Los Angeles. Brennan continues to evolve as a physical third/fourth line wing.
Richard Seeley has a solid offensive season in Manchester, emerging as the #2 blueliner behind Corvo. Joe Rullier needs to decide if he is a defenseman or enforcer. His growth continues to disappoint, even though you read in this same space that he was the Kings’ top prospect just three years ago.
Cammalleri finishes the year with the Kings.
David Steckel shakes his slump to show why the Kings were so high on him. I have absolutely no support for this, but I am rooting for him to do it and think he can, even though King management doesn’t.
The Kings sign Aaron Miller to an extension and make a significant trade. Au Read more»
When Dave Taylor was handed keys to the Los Angeles Kingdom in 1997, his first task was to set up a hierarchy in the Kings system that would allow them to build and maintain a farm system. As the Kings head into the 2002-03 campaign, they are just beginning to feel the positive effects of that “build from within” plan.
What Dave Taylor knew then and is coming to fruition now is that to maintain a fiscally responsible franchise that can achieve success on the ice, a team has to be economically diverse. That is that they have to have high-income players who perform, along with lower-paid players who still contribute. In past seasons, the Kings had overpaid big names on the downsides of their respective careers. They also overpaid some free agents and the balance of the roster spots were filled out with players who shouldn’t have been in the NHL. While the final execution of this plan is still in the future, the structure of it is taking shape and the Kings will feel some of its benefits this season.
The structure is basically some younger, higher income, quality players who will anchor the team. Players like Allison, Palffy, Deadmarsh, Miller and Norstrom were acquired via trade. They were given an opportunity to prosper, and consequently signed to extensions or new deals (or soon will be). The high-end money goes to the horses you ride the most. The next level of veterans like Laperriere, Schneider and the like follow a similar plan- acquire via trade or lower-end free agency, give them time, and then make them part of the plan for reasonable dol Read more»
The Los Angeles Kings may have the most interesting camp in the NHL right now. With so many spots available and so many players coming out of nowhere to impress, the Kings’ camp is worth keeping an eye on.
The biggest story for King fans so far is the Phoenix that is Scott Barney. Left for dead on the NHL scrap heap due to injury, Barney has been given a tryout and has not disappointed. Barney has drawn rave reviews from coaches and fans alike and may be one of two major sleepers in camp. Barney appears a tad rusty, but considering his career was left for dead two years ago, his comeback to-date has been nothing short of amazing. Barney will open the Kings’ exhibition season as a wing on the second line. Barney would really strengthen an improving Kings’ farm system. His development has been too good to believe, so the Kings will keep a watchful eye on the big forward during camp.
The other surprise has been the superb play of 18 year-old Peter Kanko. Kanko potted two goals in the intra-squad scrimmage last Tuesday and has been the talk of camp. Despite his diminutive stature, Kanko has played an NHL game, complete with offense, grit and defense. If nothing else, Kanko has shown that he will be a steal, considering he was a third round pick in the last NHL draft.
Defense has also become an interesting race due to the injury to Aaron Miller. It appears that three spots will be claimed by any three defensemen. You can consider the contenders to be MacAlpine, Corvo, Lilja, Brad Norton, and to a lesser extent, Jason Holland, Richard Seeley, J Read more»
As they Kings prepare to open camp, here are five things to watch in Los Angeles:
1- The Goaltenders
Assume that Potvin and Storr are going to share the duties this season. How much sharing will be done? If Storr is indeed the future at the position, he needs more time. Perhaps the bigger issue is what will be behind these two in the system? B.J. Boxma appears to have the job in Reading if he wants it, and assume Huet gets the #2 spot in Manchester behind Travis Scott. Does Matthew Yeats get a shot at all?
There is a spot up for grabs and Andreas Lilja appears to be the frontrunner based on how he finished last season, but Joe Corvo may have the nod because he has a better offensive game. If one appears to emerge as the #6 guy, do they send the other one to Manchester or keep him around playing every 10 games at best? If they elect to send one down, they have signed Chris McAlpine, who has handled this type of sporadic playing time in the past.
The rest of the defenseman will also need to show where their games are. Players like Richard Seeley, Mike Pudlick, Joe Rullier and Jason Crain need to show if should be buying or renting in Manchester.
Will Pavel Rosa and Steve Heinze pull themselves off the scrap heap? Heinze was a disappointment along the lines of Steve Duschesne’s last stint with the Kings. He clearly has NHL skills, but needs to mesh his game to the King’s style. Pavel Rosa went overseas to straighten out his game. Did he come back to claim his spot as an AHL veteran or NHL prosp Read more»