The Kings are suddenly full of quality young defenseman. At the top of that list right now may be Joe Rullier. Rullier is having a tremendous season in the QMJHL with Rimouski. Joe has 2 goals, 22 assists and 112 PIM’s in 32 games. He also is 10th in the league in plus-minus with a +19. Rullier has great size (6’4) and is turning into the top young defenseman in the system. While Richard Seeley (Lowell- AHL) and Jason Crain (Ohio State University) have not had spectacular seasons, their promise is still encouraging. Combine those with Kaberle, Berg and Karalahti and their are some solid blueliners waiting.
Justin Papineau is having another solid season. Papineau continues to be the most promising forward in the Kings’ system. He has 21 goals(which ranks him 5th in the league) and 15 assists in 26 games while posting a +8. While Papineau is excelling like the Kings expected, perhaps teammate Kevin Baker is playing even better than the organization hoped. Baker has 14 goals, 13 assists and is a +4 while racking up 39 PIM’s. Baker leads the team and is second in the league with 4 game winning goals and has been solid. Both of these players need to grow physically, but they are incredibly skilled and are playing well. Another Belleville Bull, goaltender Corey Campbell has 12 wins, but has 8 losses and a 3.44 GAA. Campbell has struggled with inconsistency but is still 4th in the league with wins.
Pavel Rosa is considered one of the top prospects in the Kings organization. He is 11th in the IHL in scoring and has had success on the NHL level. Rosa’s promise is undeniable. The bad news is that his considerable potential will likely never be in a Los Angeles Kings’ sweater.
Pavel Rosa started the season in Long Beach for the second year in a row. Rosa has shown his skills there, posting 23 points in 25 games (8 goals, 15 assists), but has yet to crack the big club’s lineup. The reason? Pavel Rosa may be the key to keeping Storr and Fiset.
Pavel Rosa is coveted by many teams and may well be packaged with one of the goalies for a big name star. The reason he cannot stick with the Kings? Size. Size in terms of height and heart. Rosa is notorious for taking shifts off- something that you can get away with in the minors but not in the NHL when you are 5’10″ and 188lbs. His size is even more glaring if you look down the pipeline. If Rosa were to stick, he would likely be on a top line that the Kings are hoping would include Justin Papineau. That lack of size would spell doomsday for the Kings.
I personally like Rosa, but he has no real position. He is not a center, and is really too small to play forward in the evolving NHL. Sure there are a lot of smaller players prospering right now, but they all have the speed and skating ability that Rosa lacks. His lack of defensive awareness also figures to hamper him in Andy Murray’s system.
Today may seem like a normal day for Kings’ fans, but according to the hype, the greatest player in the history of hockey, Jere Karalahti, will arrive in LA today to lead the Kings to the first of several Stanley Cups. Karalahti is 7’3″ and weighs a svelte 356 pounds. His slap shot has been clocked at light speed and he had 85 goals in 36 games last season. His hip checks have nearly ended the careers of dozens of players and he posted 1,456 PIM’s last year.
While these numbers are false, Jere Karalahti comes to LA amid so much hype that it is difficult to discern fact from fiction. This column will attempt to separate what is rumor and what is truth.
Jere Karalahti was drafted by the Kings with the 146th pick in the 1993 NHL draft. This 6’2, 210 pound defenseman is now 24 after playing in the Finnish Elite League and the hockey World Cups since 93. Much of the hype surrounding Jere came a couple of years ago when Sports Illustrated disclosed that nearly every potential King trade that season hit a snag when teams would demand that this European defenseman be included in any deal. While that may have been true, Karalahti was exposed in the Nashville expansion draft. There are several reasons for that, the most likely is that Dave Taylor made side deals (Marian Cisar and Vitali Yachmenev) with the Predators so they would not take certain players, like Karalahti.
The Los Angeles Kings are playing their best hockey in years, but one glaring weakness is their lack of a true enforcer. With Matt Johnson being swiped by Atlanta in the expansion draft and Steve McKenna being rendered useless with a bad eye, the Kings need to find someone who can protect their new superstars. After seeing teams like Washington, Boston and San Jose take runs at the Robitaille, Stumpel, Palffy line, the Kings will likely find a stopgap until the nest “Matt Johnson” comes around.
While Matt Johnson is not the best enforcer in the league, he was liked by his teammates and did a great job patrolling the ice. He was just 20 years old when he broke in and seemed poised to protect the Kings for years to come, but as many publications pointed out, he was the slowest player in the NHL. He made tremendous strides, but the next Kings’ enforcer will need the now necessary blend of size, skill and muscle. Here are the two most likely contenders to be the Kings’ enforcer of the future:
While all seems well on the mother ship, Kings prospects have kicked off the 99-00 season with some strong performances. Here is who’s news in the Los Angeles Kings farm system right now:
1999 Draftee Andrei Shefer has started off red shot, leading Halifax with 16 points in 11 games (7-9-16). He is a +7 and leads his team in virtually every category. Shefer is teammates with top prospect, goalie Alexei Volkov who is 4-2 with aa 3.37 GAA average.
Justin Papineau is tearing it up again, racking up 8 goals and 2 assists in 6 games for Belleville. Papineau is already a +7 and has 4 power play goals. Another member of the Bulls is goaltender Cory Campbell who the Kings took in last year’s draft. Campbell is 3-3 with a 3.36 GAA and a .891 save percentage.
Defenseman Joe Rullier was named player of the week in week 2 for Rimouski of the QMJHL. Rullier racked up 5 assists in two games and was a +6 after two weeks.
Jason Podollan is at it again in th AHL. He has 2 goals and 2 assists in 5 games for Lowell. He was recently joined by Sean Blanchard who was promoted to Lowell after scoring a goal and three assists for Kentucky.
Pavel Rosa has a goal and 5 assists in 4 games for the Long Beach Ice Dogs. Rosa has been flat since arriving.
Scott Barney is still nursing an injury.
Richard Seeley is playing well for Lowell of the AHL, including a scrap that he won on Monday. He has one assist and nine penalty minutes.