July 21, 2012 2:30 pm

Player evaluation: Williams

JUSTIN WILLIAMS
This year: 82 games, 22 goals, 37 assists, plus-10 rating.
The good: Williams has proved himself to be reliable and dependable in all situations. In 2010-11, he had 22 goals and 35 assists. This season, he had 22 goals and 37 assists. “Fit’’ is a big word for Dean Lombardi, and Williams is a great fit for Anze Kopitar on the first line. The two have good chemistry and enjoy playing with each other. After concerns about his health, when the Kings acquired him from Carolina, Williams played all 82 games this season. He’s not a high-flying winger with a rocket shot, but he’s an extremely hard worker who is smart with the puck and very rarely makes big mistakes.
The bad: This hardly made Williams unique on the Kings this season, but he was prone to long stretches of scoring unproductivity. Williams didn’t score a goal in the month of November, and at one point went 17 consecutive games without a goal. Williams finished strong with nine goals in his final 17 regular-season games, but the long stretch without a goal was a major reason why the Kings ended up in a big hole. The fact that Williams has been able to put together a couple healthy seasons is a good sign, but he does have that history of injuries and now he’s entering his 30s.
Going forward: There’s nothing to suggest that Williams can’t put together another season with a goal total in the low-to-mid 20s, or perhaps more if he can avoid the prolonged scoring droughts. The Kings’ late push was largely due to the excellent play of the first line, and Williams’ play was a big part of that. Williams makes a lot of small, smart plays that might go unnoticed but contribute greatly to the Kings’ success. His work along the boards is a big part of this. It’s very important for Kopitar to be surrounded by wingers who complement him well, and Williams is at the top of this list.


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