A closer look at "playing the kids" - LA Kings Insider

The question that was expected to be asked shortly after the Kings were eliminated from playoff contention was some derivative of, “So, do the ‘kids’ get a lot more ice time now?”

But that’s a broad, blanked question. Kevin Gravel and Paul LaDue aren’t going to form a first-pairing defensive unit that averages 28 minutes per game. Darryl Sutter isn’t going to consistently match Adrian Kempe up against Connor McDavid’s line when Edmonton visits tomorrow night.

But, say, might Kempe be on the ice for an extra faceoff that maybe he wouldn’t have previously been a part of?

“I’ve put him in on a lot of faceoffs, but I’ve got to take him off on a lot, too,” Darryl Sutter said. “Hey, they have to prove that they can win at this level, and so far they haven’t. So that ‘they’ is several of them.”

And therein lies the balance, according to Sutter. There’s the importance to gauge what they have with the younger players, but it’s also important that they’re not placed in a situation where losses become more regular.

More from Sutter from today’s optional practice:

Darryl Sutter, on whether young players will continue to appear in roles they’ve earned:
Based on who we’re playing. We already had our coaches meetings this morning. We play Edmonton tomorrow. What’s our lineup? What gives us the best opportunity? Can you play against – just for example, we’ve played in Edmonton three times. So the last game we were there, we had guys that couldn’t be on the ice when some of their guys were on the ice. So there’s a difference either in preparation, how important this shift is against this guy. That’s the biggest part that all these guys that you’re asking questions about. Clearly they can actually match up and play against – that’s the real play. It’s got nothing to do with age, any of that. If it was just about age, then we’d be talking about Jarome and Jonny. One guy’s 39, one guy’s 23. It’s still important to win. You learn how to lose, too. I haven’t been in that position, so I’m not going to let these guys do it. I had to do it as a young player, and I had to learn how to win.

Sutter, on whether any “carry-over” between the end of this season and the start of the next:
I don’t think one year has anything to do with the next year because your roster changes. There are lots of things I’ve been involved in – as disappointing as it is that we’re not a playoff team, I’ve been really honest and fair with everybody in terms of realistic expectations. Well, the realistic expectation was we’d stay in the race, and it’s true. It sounds like a broad thing, but it’s still true. There were three or four times at the beginning of the season we didn’t get the two-goaltending thing that allowed us to stay in it. Tyler missed two or three months, take your top scorer – things like that, right? So you’ll need some other guys to just do incrementally a little bit more. It didn’t happen. Instead of going down to the last weekend, it went down to the 79th. You have to as an organization come to grips with the fact that the division is a really good division. It’s way elevated. I said it last summer, and I know, I know. Edmonton and Calgary are going to be forces in this division, and they are.

Practice photos, courtesy of Jon Bradley (follow him on Instagram):

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Adrian Kempe

#9 | 6′ 2″ | 195 lb | Age: 21

Born: September 13, 1996
Birthplace: Kramfors, SWE
Position: LW
Handedness: Left


Kempe was selected by the Kings in the first round (29th overall) in the 2014 NHL Draft.

Alex Iafallo

#19 | 6′ | 185 lb | Age: 23

Born: December 21, 1993
Birthplace: Eden, NY, USA
Position: C
Handedness: Left


Iafallo was signed by the Kings as an unrestricted free agent on April 18, 2017.

Anze Kopitar

#11 | 6′ 3″ | 224 lb | Age: 29

Born: August 24, 1987
Birthplace: Jesenice, SVN
Position: C
Handedness: Left


As the 11th overall pick in the 2005 NHL Entry Draft, Kopitar became the first Slovenian to play in the NHL. Kopitar has spent his entire NHL career with the Kings, and following the 2015–16 season, was named the Kings’ captain. Noted for both his offensive and defensive play, Kopitar was awarded the Frank J. Selke Trophy as the best defensive forward in the NHL in 2016.

Drew Doughty

#8 | 6′ 1″ | 195 lb | Age: 26

Born: December 8, 1989
Birthplace: London, ON, CAN
Position: D
Handedness: Right


Bio: Doughty is a Canadian defenceman who was selected second overall by the Kings in the 2008 Draft. Doughty made his NHL debut in 2008 as an 18-year-old and was named to the All-Rookie Team. He is a two-time Stanley Cup champion with the Kings, a two-time Olympic gold medallist with the Canadian national team, and a Norris Trophy finalist.

Jeff Carter

#77 | 6′ 4″ | 215 lb | Age: 31

Born: January 1, 1985
Birthplace: London, ON, CAN
Position: C
Handedness: Right


Carter began his hockey career playing in the Ontario Hockey League in Canada before joining the AHL and playing for the Philadelphia Flyers. He was then traded to the Colombus Blue jackets before joining the LA Kings in 2012, where he has since won two Stanley Cups with the Kings.

Jonathan Quick

#32 | 6′ 1″ | 218 lb | Age: 30

Born: January 21, 1986
Birthplace: Milford, CT, USA
Position: G
Handedness: Left


Bio: Quick is the current goaltender for the LA Kings and was selected by Los Angeles at the 2005 NHL Entry Draft. Previously, Quick was a silver medalist with USA at the 2010 Winter Olympics. He’s won two Stanley Cup championships with the Kings, along with being the most recent goaltender to be awarded the Conn Smythe Trophy as the Most Valuable Player (MVP) of the 2012 Stanley Cup playoffs.