Handzus completes climb to first line - LA Kings Insider

It’s been, quite literally, an up-and-down season for Michal Handzus. He started the season in his customary spot as the Kings’ third-line center, but then made a drop to the fourth line in late January and early February. After seven games, Handzus moved back to the third line, then recently moved up to the second line when he swapped spots with Jarret Stoll. Now, with Anze Kopitar out, Handzus inherits the first-line center spot. Handzus is capable of playing 20 minutes per game — he’s averaging 17 minutes this season — and his defensive credentials are impeccable, but the question is whether Handzus can take a step forward on offense. A regular 20-goal scorer, Handzus has 11 goals in 75 games this season. Now he will play in a high-profile role with wingers Dustin Penner and Oscar Moller. Handzus talked about his new role and the need for improvement, throughout the lineup, in order to make up for Kopitar’s absence…

HANDZUS: “That’s why we have 23 guys on the team. Obviously it hurts, because he’s our best player, but everybody goes through injuries, so it’s not only about one guy. Everybody has got to step up a little bit higher. Some guys are going to take a little more responsibility, but it’s more about the team. It’s just the way it is. We cannot go back and we cannot look back. We just look forward. We’re going to make up for it and it’s going to make us a better team, for sure.”

Question: You’re in a different role now, but do you try to change your game at all going forward?

HANDZUS: “Not really. I’ll try to play my game. Everybody has got to step up, me too. Everybody has got to do a little bit more, and that’s just the way it is. I don’t want to change too much. I’m not going to play like Kopi, that’s for sure, so I’ve got to play my game and hope to do a little bit more. … I still feel that I can be a good offensive player. It’s up to me to show it a little bit more often than I have this year. That’s what I’m going to focus on a little bit more.”

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Adrian Kempe

#9 | 6′ 2″ | 195 lb | Age: 21

Born: September 13, 1996
Birthplace: Kramfors, SWE
Position: LW
Handedness: Left


Kempe was selected by the Kings in the first round (29th overall) in the 2014 NHL Draft.

Alex Iafallo

#19 | 6′ | 185 lb | Age: 23

Born: December 21, 1993
Birthplace: Eden, NY, USA
Position: C
Handedness: Left


Iafallo was signed by the Kings as an unrestricted free agent on April 18, 2017.

Anze Kopitar

#11 | 6′ 3″ | 224 lb | Age: 29

Born: August 24, 1987
Birthplace: Jesenice, SVN
Position: C
Handedness: Left


As the 11th overall pick in the 2005 NHL Entry Draft, Kopitar became the first Slovenian to play in the NHL. Kopitar has spent his entire NHL career with the Kings, and following the 2015–16 season, was named the Kings’ captain. Noted for both his offensive and defensive play, Kopitar was awarded the Frank J. Selke Trophy as the best defensive forward in the NHL in 2016.

Drew Doughty

#8 | 6′ 1″ | 195 lb | Age: 26

Born: December 8, 1989
Birthplace: London, ON, CAN
Position: D
Handedness: Right


Bio: Doughty is a Canadian defenceman who was selected second overall by the Kings in the 2008 Draft. Doughty made his NHL debut in 2008 as an 18-year-old and was named to the All-Rookie Team. He is a two-time Stanley Cup champion with the Kings, a two-time Olympic gold medallist with the Canadian national team, and a Norris Trophy finalist.

Jeff Carter

#77 | 6′ 4″ | 215 lb | Age: 31

Born: January 1, 1985
Birthplace: London, ON, CAN
Position: C
Handedness: Right


Carter began his hockey career playing in the Ontario Hockey League in Canada before joining the AHL and playing for the Philadelphia Flyers. He was then traded to the Colombus Blue jackets before joining the LA Kings in 2012, where he has since won two Stanley Cups with the Kings.

Jonathan Quick

#32 | 6′ 1″ | 218 lb | Age: 30

Born: January 21, 1986
Birthplace: Milford, CT, USA
Position: G
Handedness: Left


Bio: Quick is the current goaltender for the LA Kings and was selected by Los Angeles at the 2005 NHL Entry Draft. Previously, Quick was a silver medalist with USA at the 2010 Winter Olympics. He’s won two Stanley Cup championships with the Kings, along with being the most recent goaltender to be awarded the Conn Smythe Trophy as the Most Valuable Player (MVP) of the 2012 Stanley Cup playoffs.