This season: This season: 63 games, 8 goals, 7 assists, 15 points, 10 penalty minutes, 0 rating, -4.0 CF%Rel, 15:00 time on ice (with Los Angeles); 80 games, 9 goals, 7 assists, 16 points, 12 penalty minutes, -2 rating, -5.5 CF%Rel, 14:24 time on ice (total)
The good: In listing the Others by games played, how fitting is it that we lead off with
The Night King Dwight King? (No, you’ve been watching old Game of Thrones clips when you should be working.) Sadly, the clock ran out on Dwight’s tenure with the Kings, which was foreseeable for a role player in the final year of his contract during a time when the team was looking to improve its mobility and skill. No, King isn’t a skilled player, but he did contribute on the defensive side of the puck and as a penalty killer, where his 39.8 SA60 in all shorthanded situations improved from 2015-16 and placed him above the rates of Jeff Carter, Anze Kopitar, Dustin Brown and Tyler Toffoli. King positions himself well and plays with strong detail, but, hey, the Kings were a bottom-third scoring team, and King wasn’t scoring. “Awesome guy. We were really close. Low-maintenance player,” Darryl Sutter said after King’s trade to Montreal. “That’s how the league is now. Unrestricted free agents, you have trouble [re-signing them in a salary cap].”
The bad: The bell curve on King’s career reached its apex in 2013-14, when he totaled 15 goals, 30 points and a plus-16 rating in 77 games. After a 13-goal, 26-point season the following year, it descended to seven goals in 47 games and then nine in 80, split between Los Angeles and Montreal. Though King is a versatile player who exhibits good detail and positioning and can skate up and down the left side of the lineup, he wasn’t always succeeding alongside his linemates. There were good moments playing alongside Nick Shore and moreso with Trevor Lewis, but in the 240-plus minutes he spent alongside Kopitar, Los Angeles scored eight goals (that’s a 2.00 GF/60) and allowed 11. King’s 5×5 points per 60 minutes dropped for the third consecutive year. He draws very, very few penalties, and with three drawn as a King (and none as a Hab), has now drawn only 26 penalties over 365 NHL games.
Going forward: Farewell, Dwight. The easily likable and cerebral King signed a two-year contract earlier this month with Avtomobilist, a KHL outfit based in Yekaterinburg near where Europe blends into Asia. To date, he has 53 goals and 109 points in 365 career regular season games, and with 10 goals and 25 points in 75 playoff games, a raised Pts/GP rate of .33. He’ll most fondly be remembered as a valuable role player on the Kings’ two Stanley Cup teams, when he scored five goals in 18 games during the spring of 2012 and added 11 points (and one of the more controversial/helpful non-interference calls) in 26 games two years later. Happy trails to the man who always seemed, well, happy.
This season: This season: 49 games, 2 goals, 2 assists, 4 points, 54 penalty minutes, +1 rating, +5.7 CF%Rel, 15:04 time on ice
The good: Things were looking modestly optimistic for Brayden McNabb entering the 2016-17 season. He had improved his off-season workout regimen, he traveled to Milwaukee to work with Olympic speedskater Dave Cruikshank on his quickness and footspeed, he was asked to be a “much better defender and a much better puck mover this year,” and through the first month of the season, everything was looking up. He continued his punishing trademark assault on zone entrants, he averaged 20:14 per game through his first eight contests, he led the league in raw, five-on-five Corsi with an on-ice shot attempt percentage of 63.2% through his first eight games, and then…
The bad: …McNabb collided with Colton Parayko at St. Louis on October 29 and suffered a broken collarbone that significantly affected the very good progress he had made to that point, and after missing 27 games, others, namely Derek Forbort, stepped effectively into the minutes he had vacated. Though he averaged 20:14 per game before his injury, he averaged only 14:03 per game afterwards and struggled through some extended valleys and occasional healthy scratches over the remainder of the way. Despite the continued work he put into improving his skating, his footspeed and escapability remained liabilities, and his offense wasn’t coming around, either. “I’ve just got to be better,” McNabb said in mid-January. “Yeah, I think with the puck I’ve got to be a lot better. That’s kind of my strong suit is when I have the puck, so I know I’ll be better and keep working at it. When I get a chance I’m going to be better.”
Going forward: McNabb was selected by the Vegas Golden Knights at the Expansion Draft, so his lead-by-example toughness and limited footspeed will remain in the Pacific Division. McNabb, whose hard but legal hits were emblematic of Los Angeles’ heaviness, deserves credit for being the one who eventually stepped in to engage Matthew Tkachuk. He ends his tenure in Los Angeles with six goals, 42 points, a plus-23 rating and 198 penalty minutes in 201 games.
This season: This season: 45 games, 4 goals, 8 assists, 12 points, 14 penalty minutes, -5 rating, +1.4 CF%Rel, 12:27 time on ice
The good: It was a really good redemption story. A year and a half sober when he committed to the Kings on a PTO, Devin Setoguchi kept an open mind towards an opportunity served up late in his professional career as he looked to return to the NHL. “If it doesn’t work out, am I satisfied with my career and where it’s at? Yeah, absolutely,” he said during training camp. “I think just from myself and where I’m at, I’m just happy I’m allowed to play hockey. It may be here, it may be overseas, it may be in the American League. It doesn’t matter. I get to play a sport for a living.” And though he struggled in certain details and checking responsibilities after earning a one-year contract, he also chipped in with some secondary offense and, until they started allowing a few too many goals against, collaborated with Nic Dowd and Dustin Brown to establish some good chemistry and offensive zone play. Los Angeles had a better record with Setoguchi in the lineup (23-19-3) than without him (16-16-5), and given the personal struggles that he endured earlier this decade, that he was able to play his 500th league game and potentially conclude his NHL career with some settled peace of mind was an impressive personal accomplishment. His two-goal game was broadcast nationally back home. “Him and I actually talked about that today, that it was Hockey Night In Canada and he was going to score two goals,” Darryl Sutter said after the Kings’ 5-0 win over the Flames on November 5. “I said he hadn’t done it for a couple years, and he did. It’s good for him.”
The bad: Setoguchi was placed on waivers in early February and concluded his 2016-17 campaign by appearing in nine games with the Ontario Reign. While his Los Angeles tenure ended a fine personal story, there were still lapses in his detail and checking that became more pronounced as the season progressed. His minutes were coming exclusively at even strength, and the Kings had several younger players in their pipeline capable of playing a similar role that were on the verge of graduating to a tryout. There are several other breakdowns on this play, but oof.
Going forward: Setoguchi signed a two-year contract with DEL-Mannheim and has already scored in a preseason tune-up. Great news: a local article says that he and his wife are expecting their first child in the fall.
This season: This season: 26 games, 1 goals, 1 assists, 2 points, 19 penalty minutes, +3 rating, -3.2 CF%Rel, 13:11 time on ice
The good: Greene missed the final 79 games of the previous season, so his return at the start of the season was an emotional one for the Kings’ psyche. “It’s never about try or heart or anything like that,” Darryl Sutter said at the start of the season. “I think Greener’s every day come out and tried to do everything that we’ve wanted him to do. He’s a popular and respected guy in the room, and that’s important. It’s just understanding as you get older how your role changes, and he’s done a really good job of that.” Greene understood that, and for a while in November, especially when he formed a solid pairing with Kevin Gravel during a late-month winning streak, things were going well. He stuck up for Tyler Toffoli after a nasty Mark Borowiecki hit and continued to sling the same hard, physical minutes he built his career on.
The bad: Greene was shut down after “struggling with a back, groin, all that stuff – issues that he’s had off and on for the last number of years,” Sutter said in January. It resulted in post-season back surgery, which followed the shoulder and elbow surgeries from the year prior. He traveled with the team late in the year but never returned to the lineup, and earlier in the summer he cleared waivers and was bought out of the final year of his contract, a maneuver that will remove his $2.5-million hit this coming season but ding the Kings for $833,333 for the next two years. He stayed in shape to keep options open but will be joining the Kings as a pro scout.
Going forward: It appears Greene’s final game was the 2-1 home loss to Tampa Bay on January 16. This appears to be the end of the road, and he ends his playing career with 17 goals, 80 points and 663 penalty minutes in 615 games. He is the owner of two Stanley Cup rings and a lifetime of memories as part of a decorated 464-game L.A. tenure.
This season: This season: 25 games, 2 goals, 4 assists, 6 points, 6 penalty minutes, -3 rating, +2.8 CF%Rel, 12:14 time on ice
The good: “He’s a fun player to watch,” Darryl Sutter said of Adrian Kempe late in training camp during an assessment that also noted his speed and hockey IQ. “I think he’s in some ways flown under the radar here,” he said. Whether or not that served as a jolt of confidence was unclear; Kempe worked through some ups and downs in a 46-game, 20-point AHL stint that really wasn’t any broad step beyond his 55-game, 28-point 2015-16 Reign campaign. But Kempe remains remarkably young – it’s amazing to think he was still 18 years old when he popped in those eight goals in Manchester’s 17 Calder Cup Playoff games – and was born only two days in advance of the cutoff for draft eligibility, making him among the very youngest players from his draft class. He’ll turn 21 the day training camp opens, so there’s still a terrific package with which to work and ample room for the young forward to grow. He did what was expected after his late season recall and used his speed to disrupt the defense, ultimately drawing five penalties (and taking only three) in 25 games. Though offense wasn’t easy to come by, Kempe posted outstanding on-ice defensive metrics, ranking second on the team with 21.3 SA/60 and a responsible 1.13 GA/60 while maintaining strong possession rates despite honest zone starts.
The bad: With a 0.91 GF60 and a 3.1% on-ice shooting percentage, very little offense was created when Kempe was on the ice. He had a pair of nifty goals and showed off a sweet dish on another, but at the age of 20, his package, which contains a high-end skill set meshed with responsible play, just wasn’t bearing fruit offensively. He won only 43.8% of his faceoffs, and after his first game Sutter said that he’ll have to add some “purpose or dig in his game in order to succeed at this level.”
Going forward: So, having alternated between center and left wing to this point in his career, what is he exactly? The team seems to think he’s a center, based on the organizational depth chart shared at Thursday’s State of the Franchise forum. Center is obviously a much more demanding position at the NHL level, and should Kempe open the year with an opportunity at 3C, he’s going to draw some difficult assignments against top centers on the road. Of course, he still has to earn a spot on the team, and as someone not yet eligible for waivers, there’s a chance he returns to Ontario to begin the year if something lacks in his preseason play. But he’s a smart and responsible player whose father is a development coach and has never appeared to be a cut-the-corners type. Corey Pronman lists him as the 74th best prospect in hockey over at ESPN Insider, and after several seasons lingering on those lists, it would be an enormous boon for the team if he turned his futures stock into cold, hard production. But is he a scorer? Or, with that speed and intelligent play, is he more of a role player, like Trevor Lewis? Is he capable of sticking at this level at center? This will be an interesting preseason and regular season for Kempe, especially given the team’s desire to attack the center of the ice with speed.
This season: This season: 22 games, 0 goals, 8 assists, 8 points, 4 penalty minutes, -5 rating, +2.3 CF%Rel, 15:24 time on ice
The good: When Matt Greene was shut down in late January and Tom Gilbert placed on waivers shortly thereafter, the Kings recalled fellow right-shot and North Dakota product Paul LaDue, another former NCAA defenseman in the Derek Forbort-Kevin Gravel age group. His stock had steadily risen over the prior two seasons, and during his heavy rotation in the preseason he showed good instincts and terrific footwork and escapability. There’s also an offensive element to his game, and LaDue, through his first 22 NHL games, showed proficiency moving the puck around on the man advantage. With four assists in 33:05 of ice time, he averaged a team-best seven power play assists per 60 minutes, the best rate on the team, and by averaging 1:33 per game on the power play, the team saw the potential for the rookie to stir up some offense. More intangibly, the mature North Dakota legacy has good work and practice habits and exudes confidence. “With Paul, like anybody else, we were looking for consistency in his game, but he’s a very good student of the game,” John Stevens said in March. “You tell him things, you can see he takes it in, he implements it into his game right away, he can understand what you’re trying to do. I mean, he’s getting a great opportunity to play in a lot of situations. He hasn’t really killed many penalties yet, but he will. He’s got a chance to play second unit power play and he’s done a good job there, and he’s getting to play some meaningful minutes against top guys on the ice, so it’s a great opportunity that we want him to take advantage of.”
The bad: Only a few minor scuffs that dealt more with a rookie’s first 22 games than any sort of long-term outlook. There was still an acclimation period as LaDue transitioned to the NHL and learned about new opponents, playing against top competition on the road and the importance of every shift. He was on the ice for some goals against and had a raised 2.2 GA/60 in five-on-five play, though that rate was also influenced by the overall team’s drop in performance late in the season. Not too important: of his eight assists, only one was a primary assist during five-on-five play.
Going forward: LaDue should be well served by his 22-game Kings stint and will compete for a regular role on the blue line, one that should include some good power play opportunity. Darryl Sutter wasn’t afraid to throw him out there somewhat regularly, especially shortly after his call-up. The prospect of LaDue continuing to grow under John Stevens, who aided in the development of Alec Martinez, Derek Forbort, Drew Doughty and many others, is very interesting, given the defender’s multifaceted skill set. With his seeming unflappability and the ability to play in a number of situations on the right side, there’s a modest but real measure of excitement in LaDue’s near and long-term future. He signed a one-year, $874,125 contract for 2017-18 and will be eligible for restricted free agency again 10 months from now.
This season: This season: 19 games, 6 goals, 3 assists, 9 points, 16 penalty minutes, -9 rating, -8.5 CF%Rel, 16:20 time on ice (with Los Angeles); 80 games, 14 goals, 13 assists, 27 points, 70 penalty minutes, -30 rating, +0.2 CF%Rel, 15:08 time on ice (total
The good: Hall of Famer to-be Jarome Iginla exhibited the same leadership, toughness and professional detail he had throughout his career.If you’re Adrian Kempe, and this is your 20th NHL game, that’s quite a welcome-to-the-NHL impression. (Los Angeles outscored Calgary 4-0 after this moment as Iginla completed a Gordie Howe Hat Trick.) Iginla scored three goals on six power play shots as part of a six-goal, nine-point contribution that went well beyond some added punctuation to a storied career. He fought, he scored, he added a sage and driven presence to the leadership committee through lead-by-examples such as the one above. “He’s one of those guys that everybody in the room looks up to, considering what he’s done in his career,” Dustin Brown said in early April. “He’s come in and had a really good attitude and really helped us both on and off the ice. I think he’s shown a lot of fight for a guy in the situation he’s coming in to.” It really would have been something had Iginla played postseason games with the Kings, but surely the example he set rubbed off well on Kempe, Jonny Brodzinski and other young players.
The bad: Iginla had difficulty keeping the puck out of the net at even strength and playing in the attacking end. This is unimportant, so pay little attention, but he posted a 3.8 goals-against per 60 minutes, a team-worst 32.9 scoring chances against per 60 minutes and an in-the-red possession rate. Who cares? If you’re citing Jarome Iginla’s CF%Rel over 19 games some four months before his 40th birthday, you’re missing the point. He provided scoring and leadership, and it’s damn cool one of the all-time greats fought, bled and scored while wearing the crown so late in his playing career.
Going forward: Though Iginla kept his mind open towards a potential Los Angeles return, that prospect has cooled since the spring. He currently ranks 12th all-time with 1,554 points, tied for 15th with 625 goals, 34th with 1,300 points, 20th with 197 power play goals and sixth with 101 game-winning goals. Iginla is yet to sign with a team for the 2017-18 season, which would be his 21st in the NHL. “I did enjoy it,” he said of his Kings tenure after the final game of the season. “For me, part of it was also getting a chance to play for Darryl again, and that was very exciting and I really enjoyed that part, but also it is a top organization. You go there and see the core that they have with Doughty, Muzzin, some of the young D, one of the best goalies in the world, some of the best centerman in the world with Carter and Kopitar, so there are so many things that, I know it’s a tough time there right now, but if anyone can turn it around quickly, they’d be one of the organizations with that kind of core that can bounce back and have a great year, so from my point of view, that would be possible down the road if that was an option.”
This season: This season: 18 games, 1 goals, 4 assists, 5 points, 6 penalty minutes, -4 rating, -2.6 CF%Rel, 15:27 time on ice
The good: In the preseason, right-handed shooter Tom Gilbert was part of a veteran consortium battling for minutes. “I’ve said that with the defensemen – Scuds, Greener, Tommy are all in the same spot – and then there’s a group of young guys that are in the same spot,” Darryl Sutter said. “They will sort it out on their own.” In the end, a greater share of the minutes went to the younger guys as the Kings collectively received some encouraging returns for a transitional group that, backed by the club’s traditional structure and checking, allowed the sixth fewest goals per game in the league.
The bad: The Kings were more or less winning when Gilbert was on the roster, but by averaging 15 and a half minutes per game, he was essentially holding the spot of a younger player capable of graduating to the NHL and gaining experience. He could make plays, but he also sported a team-worst 0.8 GF60.
Going forward: The Kings needed another experienced option on the right side with Greene’s availability unclear last summer, but Gilbert’s $1.4-million deal, combined with Teddy Purcell’s $1.6M contract, ate up $3M of cap space at the start of the season before the two players went on to combine for 30 games. Los Angeles traded Gilbert and all but $280,000 of his prorated salary to Washington for conditions that were unlikely to be met (and weren’t), but the veteran played exclusively (and well) at AHL-Hershey after the trade. He signed a one-year contract with DEL-Nuremberg over the summer.
This season: This season: 12 games, 0 goals, 2 assists, 2 points, 2 penalty minutes, +2 rating, -7.2 CF%Rel, 12:54 time on ice
The good: Teddy Purcell a good teammate and remained close with several holdovers from his first L.A. tenure, but after suffering an undisclosed injury early in the season, his game never really got on track. After clearing waivers and joining Ontario, he set a positive example for his younger teammates. “I’ve definitely had better moments than [being sent down],” he told Reign Insider in January. “I definitely didn’t expect it, when I went to free agency this summer to be down there before Christmas. It’s tough in this business, it happens fast. It can change quick, for good, and bad. But from learning from guys that I’ve seen play and played with and just what I’ve learned, too.”If you go down with a bad attitude this hockey world is small and that travels fast. You go down with a good attitude, do the best you can, try to help the team win, it’s only going to help yourself out. So that’s the mindset I’ve been in. You look around the world, there could be a lot less fortunate things to be doing so I still feel very luckily and I’m just trying to enjoy my time and hopefully get back up soon.” He was a point-a-game player with the Reign, finishing with 10 goals and 38 points in 38 games.
The bad: The Kings are a team that generates success through strong checking, and Purcell wasn’t winning enough battles during his L.A. tenure to earn the ice time, situational play and linemates necessary for his playmaking to blossom and his game to succeed. He posted a team-worst 44.0% Corsi-for rating on the team that emerged as the top possession club.
Going forward: The Purcell signing was more curious than the Gilbert signing. He’s a good playmaker who holds onto pucks, and the Kings are a team in need of skill, but his skill simply did not seem to be an appropriate fit for the 2017-18 Kings, and it appeared he lost Darryl Sutter’s trust early. He is unsigned for 2017-18.
This season: This season: 6 games, 0 goals, 2 assists, 2 points, 2 penalty minutes, +2 rating, +9.9 CF%Rel, 12:17 time on ice
The good: Jonny Brodzinski carried over momentum he established the year prior, when he began to mature in the pro game and emerge as a scoring threat for the Reign before his season ended in April, 2016 with a broken thumb. He returned healthy and in excellent shape, and during a two-game rookie series versus the Coyotes, Brodzinski showed a good combination of strength, speed and the ability to use his body positioning to fire off clean shots with a “natural” release. “There’s certain guys that have hard shots and really good shots and heavy shots. There’s other guys they just seem to know where the puck’s going and it’s natural for them to miss goalie and hit nets,” Assistant GM Mike Futa said before the season. He set a personal goal of 35 goals before the season and fired away in attempting to hit that lofty mark, ultimately settling for a Reign-best 27 in 59 games at the AHL level before a late season call-up. He didn’t score in his six games, but in highly sheltered minutes and a very small sample size led all Kings in Corsi-for and on-ice SF/60.
The bad: Nothing profound at the NHL level, though from a developmental perspective, it would’ve been a confidence builder to see him find the back of the net after his recall. (He came close.)
Going forward: Brodzinski was signed to a two-year, $1.3-million extension over the summer and is eligible to become a restricted free agent on July 1, 2019. Based on his progression at the professional level and penchant for goal scoring, he will be one of the most interesting bubble roster players come training camp. Brodzinski wouldn’t have to clear waivers if the Kings choose to assign him to Ontario at the start of the season. He appears ready to make the jump, and even if he opens the year with the Reign, don’t expect him to remain down for long.