Player evaluation: Stoll
This season: 82 games, 20 goals, 23 assists, 42 penalty minutes, 17:10 average ice time.
The good: Challenged before the season, by coach Terry Murray, to improve his offensive numbers, Stoll reached the 20-goal plateau for the first time since 2005-06 and also improved his shot-on-goal total — another point of emphasis by Murray — from 164 to 187. Beyond that, Stoll showed the same strengths as in the past. His faceoff skills are considerable, and are underrated, and he has a consistently strong one-time shot from the slot.
The bad: Stoll’s one-time shot is important to his offensive success, because he lacks the playmaking skills of some other top centers. While his goal total improved, his overall point total fell, as his assists dropped from 31 to 23. Stoll’s hard shot makes him a contributor on the power play, but too often his point shots sail wide or high of the net. Apparently displeased, Murray dropped Stoll to a fourth-line center spot late in the Kings’ first-round playoff series.
Going forward: Stoll turns 29 this summer and is entering the final year of his contract. He’s still in top physical form and should be motivated by the idea of playing for a new contract. Given that prospects such as Brayden Schenn and Andrei Loktionov seem to be knocking at the door, in terms of being ready to play center at the NHL level, it will be interesting to see how the Kings handle Stoll next season. Will the youngsters have advanced enough to challenge for Stoll’s spot?