Hello, this is a feature that will run through the entire season and aims to recap the weekend’s events and boils those events down to one admittedly superficial fact or stupid opinion about each team. Feel free to complain about it.
The thing about the Kings winning the Stanley Cup this year was that it was the thing most likely to happen. They led the league in fenwick close this year, as they did the last time they won it all, and there seems to be very little reason to believe they can't do it again.
Now, there's a lot of skepticism still remaining in this hockey world about whether this kind of possession statistic has any direct correlation to success, and specifically that in the postseason. After all, that kind of short series (seven games max) creates a lot of wiggle room for other factors to work their way in their. That's not an unreasonable argument vis-a-vis the ability to win in the playoffs. But bear this in mind: The teams who have posted the seven best fenwick percentages since the Behind the Net era began in 2007-08, four have won the Cup (Detroit, both Chicago teams, and this year's Kings), another lost the Cup Final (2008-09 Detroit, which lost to a Penguins team that was the best in the league after bringing Dan Bylsma aboard), another lost in the Conference Finals (last year's Kings), and one lost in the second round (2007-08 Sharks).
Not that this year's quality necessarily has a bearing on next year's, but the number of guys the Kings are losing in this offseason is small and likely to not be all that problematic for them in terms of finding a worthy replacement. They have just three unrestricted free agents: Marian Gaborik, Willie Mitchell and Matt Greene. It appears as though they're going to try very hard to re-sign Gaborik, who was great for them alongside Anze Kopitar (though it must be said looking great next to Kopitar is not hard), but letting those other two walk — if they want to — is going to have no impact on their quality.
Mitchell had a negative corsi relative for the team in the regular season, despite soft competition, meaning that while he was still in positive territory overall, it was mainly because he was on the Kings and the Kings are dominant. Greene was in slightly better territory at plus-1.3 percent, but played only 38 games, took a huge number of penalties versus the number he drew, and doesn't put up points. If the Kings think they need big, physical defensemen, and they don't want to bring either of these guys back (Mitchell especially, given he's 37), the list of guys who will be able to replace what they did the last few years on the cheap is long.
There's also the fact that they might buy out Mike Richards. At this point, there have been reports that they plan to do both, and given what he's paid ($5.75 million against the cap through 2020) and where he's been headed (minus-3 percent corsi relative, only 41 points though that was a little bit of bad luck because his on-ice team shooting percentage was only 5.5), you can certainly see where they'd have some desire to do that for a guy who's going to turn 30 next February. He's still a very talented player but if the wheels are falling off and you're going to use a compliance buyout, especially because he's owed $18.5 million in actual cash over the next three seasons. It's pretty to see the decision made either way.
Other than that, everyone's coming back. Kopitar and Trevor Lewis are signed for two more seasons. Dustin Brown and Jeff Carter through 2022. Jonathan Quick (overpaid but a perfectly good goaltender) has another year beyond that. Justin Williams will see his contract end next season, but you know Dean Lombardi is already working to bring him back. Tyler Toffoli and Tanner Pearson are both restricted free agents in the last years of their deals. Drew Doughty and Slava Voynov each have five more years in LA. Alec Martinez and Jake Muzzin have contracts up next summer, but you can't see the team letting them walk.
Even if a few of those guys leave — and really, why would they? — it's not like Lombardi is going to go begging for talent. In the same way that guys used to line up to sign with the Red Wings or currently do with the Blackhawks, the Kings are a relatively streamlined team, with their “core” retained relatively cheaply in comparison with what, say, Chicago is going to have to shell out for Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews this summer. Lombardi understands the market better than perhaps anyone, and given this long list of quotes compiled seven years ago, isn't likely to have stopped looking for ways to exploit market inefficiencies just because he's won two Stanley Cups and gone to three straight Conference Finals.
With the cap going up, and especially if there's a Richards buyout, he's once again going to have a lot of money to spend; they have $62 million committed for next season, but to 18 players. Gaborik is likely to take a pay cut to stay with the team, and other than that it's hard to imagine Lombardi being outmaneuvered in the market overall. Can you imagine the pain they would deliver on the league if they were able to sign complementary corsi dynamos like Anton Stralman or Benoit Pouliot in this offseason?
This is a team that seems destined to always be only-okay in terms of perception throughout the regular season. They don't score a lot of goals, they don't often finish all that high in the conference. But they always have the puck, and that's all you really need to win.
They may not be a dynasty yet, but it's really difficult to believe this team can't get there sometime soon.
What We Learned
Anaheim Ducks: I'm never going to be opposed to a team trading almost nothing for a former first-round pick. Maybe Louis LeBlanc becomes a useful NHLer in Anaheim, and if he doesn't it's no skin of Bob Murray's season.
Boston Bruins: Yeah I wouldn't put a huge amount of money on this. The Bruins are going to be very good, and still the best team in the East, but they need some complementary talent both up front and on the blue line.
Buffalo Sabres: The Sabres want to host the scouting combine in the future, which is a good way for them to identify guys they're going to take first overall when they finish 30th for the next three years.
Calgary Flames: The Flames might take a run at Jason Spezza, which isn't a bad idea but isn't one that seems to have any reasonable end. They get him and then what? Finish 25th instead of 27th? Who cares? (And the reported pieces going the other way: Jiri Hudler, Dennis Wideman, Mikael Backlund, and picks. Yeah, alright.)
Columbus Blue Jackets: “Stanley Cup caliber hockey is coming” to Columbus. Yeah, when the Kings and Blackhawks get their road dates there every year.
Detroit Red Wings: The Red Wings signed Tomas Nosek from the Czech ExtraLiga, as part of their further attempts to bring every Tomas in the league under their control. Nosek is their third after Tatar and Jurco.
Florida Panthers: Yeah yeah uhhh five candidates for that open coaching job. Five of em. There's Dan Bylsma and uhh.. jeez I know there are four others. Ugh there's whatshisname and that other guy. Dan Bylsma is the only one I can think of for some reason. Huh. So weird I can't remember literally any other ones.
Los Angeles Kings: Drew Doughty says the Kings are on their way to becoming a dynasty. Drew, I literally just said that come on dawg.
Minnesota Wild: It's not very polite to say it but the Wild entering next season with a good starting goalie who has MS and a 1b who just isn't useful any more is not a good idea. This is a goodish team but this is a huge problem.
Nashville Predators, America's Favorite Hockey Team: The Preds might want to get another second-round pick so they can package that with their own second-rounder, and trade for another first, maybe in an attempt to move up from No. 11 in two weeks. I'm down with that.
New Jersey Devils: Next year is “likely” Martin Brodeur's last in the NHL. Normally this is the kind of thing you should be sad about but he's been both awful and a jerk for like three years, so smell ya later.
Phoenix Coyotes: Don Maloney wants to model his organization on the Red Wings. You know, the constantly-trending-downward Red Wings. If I could make a suggestion, maybe model it after one of those teams that have won more than one Cup in the last four years. There are two of them.
Pittsburgh Penguins: The Penguins' new VP of hockey ops is the son of the Hurricanes' owner, and held a similar job with that organization before getting fired under very strange circumstances. Jeff O'Neill makes it sound like Jason Karmanos might not have been the most popular guy.
San Jose Sharks: Peter Chiarelli denied that he's been in trade talks about Brad Marchand, but the rumors about Patrick Marleau heading to Boston persist despite the fact that they have no money to make such a deal right now.
St. Louis Blues: Maybe the Blues should try to get Jason Spezza. That would help. You can never have enough No. 2 centers.
Play of the Weekend
When you win the Stanley Cup with a goal in double overtime that is by default the best play of the weekend.
Gold Star Award
Thank you to the World Cup for immediately filling the sports void in my life.
Minus of the Weekend
Spain was bad on Friday. That was a bad game they did.
Perfect HFBoards Trade Proposal of the Week
User “Devilish Predator” is a genius.
Malkin and Fleury
Lundqvist and Richards
Word of advice: Don't tell them what you're in for.
- Sports & Recreation
- Ice Hockey
- Anze Kopitar
- the Kings
- Marian Gaborik
- Red Wings
- Willie Mitchell