Increased role for Voynov

Much of the focus in the past few days has been on Jeff Carter, and how his arrival might impact the Kings’ forwards, but just as important is how Slava Voynov fits in as Jack Johnson’s full-time replacement, in the second defensive pair with Willie Mitchell. It’s not a role with which Voynov is entirely unfamiliar. He got big minutes in the preseason, during Drew Doughty’s contract holdout, and regularly played big minutes with Mitchell this season when Johnson moved to partner with Matt Greene. Now, it’s a bit different though, because the pressure is on. Voynov will now be counted on to play big minutes, including power-play time, on a nightly basis against some of the opposing teams’ top players. Against Chicago, Voynov played nearly 19 minutes and had a plus-1 rating and three shots on goal. Last night against Nashville, he played just over 20 minutes and had an even rating and one shot on goal. Darryl Sutter was asked for his assessment of Voynov…

SUTTER: “He’s good. I’ve been talking to him about using his stick better — because he’s not a big guy — to defend better with his stick. That’s going to be a work in progress with him, on that part of it. I think that the offense is a given with him. He passes the puck well and shoots the puck well and jumps into plays well. I think it’s more about knowing who you’re on the ice against and how you’ve got to defend. That will be the biggest step for him, because he hasn’t done that, when you think about it. He’s played in the third pair and on the power play, and we’ve sort of watched who he played against. Now he’s got to play against top guys, and he’s going to have to learn on the fly how to defend against them. He’s smart. He’s just got to stay really focused on that.’’

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