Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Kings Of The Castle

Los Angeles Kings have been accused of selling hope, and nothing else which may have made my decision to adopt them as one of my own a difficult one but so far this season they have proven that they were a worthy choice. Clearly the Blues have stumbled out of the gates and are having a tough time finding the back of the net. Injuries are a factor but can not be used as an excuse, just an explanation. Given time the youth will pick things up and get back to the place they were at the end of last season where they just started to click and just kept winning.

As for the Kings, the moves made in the off season so far have looked pretty good. I will admit that I was sceptical about the acquisition of Ryan Smyth but much to my pleasure he came in healthy and ready to contribute. He has slipped right into the top line and found some great chemistry with his line mates: Justin Williams and Anze Kopitar (let the record reflect that it is not An-zee.... It’s Ahn-jay). It doesn’t hurt that Kopitar is leafing the league in scoring and is probably the most underrated star in the league. The ability to be able to score so far this season I making all the difference. Sure they could use another shooter but as it stands now they are doing OK with what they have.

The balance on the lines is a benefit to have as they can roll their lines a little more and have confidence in spreading things out a little. Would I prefer to not see Raitis Ivanans in the lineup, sure but in the long run it is probably best to allow some of the younger players mature in the AHL and season a bit. Knowing that there are some good young talent in Manchester is a nice little bonus. With a little more experience to players like Oscar Moller, Andrei Loktionov, Justin Azevedo and still in Brandon with the Wheat Kings young Braden Schenn should help out offensively over time and on the back end having a Thomas Hickey almost making the team out of camp and Vyacheslav Voinov there as well and Colton Tuebert still in junior gives some nice options going forward. Jonathan Bernier (who was in nets for the AHL All Star Game last night) and Jeff Zatkoff as the goalies in the system it gives some good slid depth and the ability to use them as possible trade bait should the need arise in the future. How good Jonathan Quick continues to play in the future will likely dictate what the team chooses to do in the near future with these two. One can’t discount what depth and even a little bit of cap room can do. Flexibility going forward could become a big deal as this team grows together.

With all that is going on in Atlanta with the lack of attendance and the fact that there are ownership issues there and how long the team will be viable in that market may force the team to part with their superstar Ilya Kovalchuk. Should his services become available and they are allowed to negotiate a contract with him to ensure that he stays, a trade to the Kings could be a very interesting option. Depending on the cost and the players that would need to be involved, finally getting an established player that can elevate an already decent team and give them a legitimate scoring threat could do great things out on the coast. I am not saying that a deal would do what a Gretzky did when he came but marketing would have a field day, ticket sales would probably get a boost and best of all the product on the ice would likely improve. An addition like that could be just what the team needs. They do have some cap space to work with and depending on what would need to be involved in any possible deal may just be a viable option.

I will sit back and watch and see how this all plays down with one half of my new adopted teams. Or if Kovalchuk were to end up in the Blues (unlikely as it may be) then that may work out as well.

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