Thursday, July 03, 2003


Often times a team racked by injuries will go into the off-season thinking "hey, we get so and so, and so and so back, and that's like getting a couple of great free agents for nothing." That's may be OK, but it really only works after a decent season. The Kings weren't decent last season, they were awful. Don't get me wrong. No one is looking forward to the return of... well, we'll get that. Let's start, shall we.


The Kings lost more games to injury last year than any other team in the league. That was bad. However, that meant a lot of playing time for guys like Cammelleri, Frolov, and a host of others. That's good. Their development will be crucial to the success of the Kings over the next few years. However, even more crucial is the play of their top players. They need Allison and Deader to come back strong, as strong as they were when they left. Until Ziggy Palffy remembered he was Ziggy Palffy last season, Adam Deadmarsh had been the teams best player, and that was including all of the games he had missed. This is easily the largest area of optimism this season. The Kings are simply a different team without Jason Allison, and you just can't express how important it will be to have a healthy Jason Allison in the lineup. Here's hoping they stay in the lineup this season.


1. Roman Cechmanek- This guy has been lights out in the regular season for the past couple of years, but has had serious problems in the playoffs. Kings fans would have loved to have had serious problems in the playoffs last year, so at this point, that's not a problem. Also, Kings fans are a rabid bunch, but they're also fiercely loyal. They'll get on players at times, but they want to see the team succeed. Philly fans are a different breed. They seem to take pleasure in watching certain guys fail. Cechmanek appeared to be one of those guys. Plus, Bobby Clarke is an asshole. I think the change is going to be great for Cechmanek. The expectations and the pressure are reduced, and he's not exactly replacing Ken Dryden. I like Huet as a backup. Overall, this was a good deal, especially considering they only gave up mid-round draft picks.

2. Jozef Stumpel- He comes in to replace Smolinski. I like this deal in that it gives the team a little more scoring punch on the second line. He won't ever be confused with Selke winner, but he's adequate defensively, and with the improved (fingers crossed) goaltending, the added offense is worth the small price defensively. Also, this marks the first transaction bringing a player back to a team for which I have his jersey. My Stumpel jersey is now as current as a jersey no longer worn by the actual team can be. So yay for that.


1. Sergei Federov- I'm of two minds on this rumor. I can't imagine a fan not wanting a player of Federov's ability in the lineup. But first, where do you play him? You have, in my opinion, one of the top 5 centers in the game in Allison, when healthy. That Allison, Palffy, Deadmarsh line can be magic when they're all together. You just acquired Stumpel to center the second line. You don't pay that much to a checker. Do you make him a wing? Do you try to put together three scoring lines? Compatibility concerns aside, I have issues with his dedication. He was easily distracted in Detroit, of all places. How strong would his focus be in LA. I just don't like this move when all is said and done, which is OK, because I don't think there's any chance of it happening.

2. Luc Robitaille- Let's face it, Luc has to retire as a King. I think with regular ice time, which he wasn't getting in Detroit last year, he would be a 25 to 30 goal guy next season. This has to get done. He's always been a better player in LA than elsewhere. The rumors lately is that while they agree more or less on a base salary, they're quibbling over incentives. They tried to make it sound negative, but I can't imagine that this will drag on that long. I mean, if you say "he gets X if he scores y" I don't really see a problem. You'd be happy to pay y for a guy who does x. Dave, let's get this done and put Luc back in the Purple and Black,....and silver,.....and gold every so often.

3. The Others- OK, these aren't really rumors, but I'm going to start them. What the Kings really need, in my opinion, and assuming we aren't going to rely on the kids, is a scoring winger, and power play quarterback on the blue line. Guess who's available? Sure there's a host of other guys out there, but right now Paul Kariya and Brian Leetch are on the market. Either or both would be a perfect fit, and Kariya would be great for the "screw you, Ducks" factor. No way do they sign both, and it's a real long shot that they'd sign either. I think Dallas is the only place Leetch would play that isn't on the East Coast. So he's out. That leaves Kariya. It will depend on the market, and there's the issue of having too many left wings (assuming the inking of a deal with Luc). Still, what a coup it would be to get him a little north on I-5. As for other defensemen, they're talking about a bunch, but I think Tverdovsky may be on the radar. He brings the offensive skill that they need to replace Schneider, he's lived in SoCal a couple of times, and once again, his defensive liabilities may be balanced out by the improved goaltending. Also, I think he would be a better defender in Murray's system.


The Kings took some chances in the first round. Brown slipped a lot from where the Central Scouting Bureau had him ranked, and that has to be a concern. On the bright side, they got with a pick in the middle of the first round. He projects to be an Adam Deadmarsh type player, but that's of course asking a lot. The NHL entry draft is the definition of "crapshoot" so here's to keeping your fingers crossed and hoping he pans out. Boyles is a real project, but it's not often you find a center with his size. I don't know if that's a good thing or a bad thing. I like the selection of Tambellini, if for no other reason than to piss off Red Berenson. Anybody who can lead a national championship calibre team in scoring as a freshman has to have a future in the NHL, no? We'll see, but supposed to be speedy, with a quick hard shot. I like snipers, and let's hope he gets it done. I'm stoked about Pushkarev. He's the type of guy the Wings in the later rounds that turns into Pavel Datsyuk or Sergei Federov. Dave Taylor also decided to retry the Kai Nurminnen experiment by drafting 26 year old Esa Pirnes out of Finlad. He's an offensive minded player, and the Kings hope he can come in and comtibute this season. We'll see. Personally, I liked Nurminnen, and thought he was pretty skilled. I still remember this sweet floating backhanded pass he made over a couple of lines in a game that sent Stumpel in on a break and led to a goal. Hopefully Pirnes will bring that skill, but with a bit better work ethic.

So that's my take on the off-season so far. If the Angels don't make some sort of move in the standings real soon, I'm going to be gripping hard until the puck drops. Go Kings Go!

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