Player evaluation: Lewis
This season: 72 games, 3 goals, 10 assists, 6 penalty minutes, 11:29 average ice time.
The good: Before this season, Lewis had appeared in only 11 NHL games and, in all reality, had not showed much. This season, Lewis showed great improvement. The former first-round pick seemed to re-make himself into a forechecking, penalty-killing bulldog and, by the end of the season, had become one of the Kings’ most underrated players. Elevated, due to injury, to a higher-profile role, Lewis showed bursts of offensive ability and is valuable because of his versatility, his ability to play all three forward positions equally well.
The bad: Lewis’ offensive potential still seems limited, and the Kings’ attempt to put him in a top-six role late in the season was mitigated by the fact that Lewis has not been consistently good in the faceoff circle. Given that the Kings seem to have quality depth at the center position, both at the NHL level and among their prospects, it’s unknown exactly where Lewis will be able to fit in, long term.
Going forward: This had the feel of a make-it-or-break-it season for Lewis, who is due to be a restricted free agent this summer. By most measures, he made it. It’s a stretch to say that Lewis will eventually rise to a top-six role, but there’s nothing wrong with having a smart, responsible bottom-six energy player who can effectively kill penalties. Even if Lewis eventually gets bumped to the wing, he can still give the Kings valuable minutes in a fourth- or third-line role.