Player evaluation: Stoll
This season: 78 games, 6 goals, 15 assists, plus-2 rating.
The good: Given a new role at the start of the season, that of a third-line center, Stoll adapted well. His offensive numbers took a mysterious dip, but by the end of the season, Stoll had established himself as an outstanding defensive center, regularly matched up against opponents’ top lines. Stoll is relentless in terms of puck pursuit and isn’t afraid to hit. He is regularly the Kings’ top man on faceoffs and contributes to both the power-play and penalty-kill units. Stoll isn’t part of the official leadership group, but he’s a positive presence in the locker room and a respected leader. Any team would love to have him as a third-line center.
The bad: In moving to the third line, Stoll certainly took on more of a defensive-minded role, but that doesn’t totally explain his massive fall-off in terms of scoring. Stoll had scored at least 13 goals in each of his previous six seasons, and had scored as many as 22. This season, he scored only six goals and tied his career-low with 21 points. Stoll’s physical play is generally a positive, but he has a tendency to excessively take penalties, particularly early in games. In previous years, Stoll had been a big part of the Kings’ power play, as a point shooter, but his shot is not accurate enough for him to be considered a reliable power-play scorer.
Going forward: Stoll signed a three-year contract shortly he was set to become an unrestricted free agent on July 1. Perhaps with a full season under Darryl Sutter and his more-aggressive system, Stoll’s numbers can rebound a bit. The Kings need every bit of his defensive skill, but they also need him to pot a few more goals. Stoll just recently turned 30, so it’s well within reason to think that his play should remain at a high level for the next three years. He stays in excellent shape and, despite some nagging injuries, has missed only four games over the past two seasons. He will once again play a varied but important role.