Post Season Kings - Understanding Eli

Tuesday, July 09, 2013

Post Season Kings

Winning back-to-back Stanley Cup championships in today's NHL is almost impossible. The last time it was achieved was in the late 90's when the Detroit Red Wings managed to battle hard enough two years in a row to win back-to-back cups. Since then however, no team has been able to do so, but the Los Angeles Kings did make a push this year to make it happen. After winning their first ever championship last season, the team endured the infamous Stanley Cup hangover, the half season lockout, and the 48 game season to make it to 'the dance' again this year. The team played hard, beating some tough teams in the beginning two rounds; first the St. Louis Blues, followed by one of their State rivals the San Jose Sharks. In the end, it was the President Trophy winning Chicago Blackhawks who knocked the Kings out of the conference finals on their way to winning their 2nd championship in 5 years. I guess the Kings can hold their heads high knowing they were beaten by this years eventual champs, right?

The playoffs are over now, and the off-season is well on the way. No matter what has happened in the past year, all teams are now looking forward to the future. That's no different for the Kings who have already made a bit of a splash a few weeks ago by trading their highly touted, but not often used, goalie Jonathan Bernier. The return for this former 11th overall pick, from the Toronto Maple Leafs, was pretty darn good I must admit - Frattin, Scrivens and a 2nd round pick - however I'm still quite sad to see him go. It's been a long time for me as a Bernie fan waiting to see him break into the LA roster, but their current #1 goalie Jonathan Quick has stolen the show this past few years, and Bernie just had to go. I do wish him all the best of course, and I look forward to him lighting up the NHL spotlight in his inevitable #1 role with the Leafs.

Beyond trades, the Kings have been busy with the draft which took place at the end of June. Though having no pick in the first round this year, GM Dean Lombardi and his team made a bit of noise in the second round by packaging a few later picks to trade with the Edmonton Oilers for 37th overall pick. With that selection they drafted Valentin Zykov, a Russian born player who was just named the QMJHL 'Rookie of the Year' and 'Offensive Rookie of the Year' this past season. It will be interesting to watch this kid develop that's for sure, as it will be equally fun watching how all the other players they picked - Justin Auger, Hudson Fashing, Patrick Bartosak, Jonny Brodzinsky, Zachary Leslie and Dominik Kubalik - come into their own within the organization.

As new players come in, some players end up leaving - it's the nature of the league. 'Free agent frenzy' usually brings quite a bit of movement to the NHL as player contracts come to an end and new ones are signed. In many cases, players end up moving on from franchises they've been a part of for a long time, their whole careers in some cases. So far this off-season, the Kings have lost two players: Rob Scuderi and Brad Richardson. It's hard to see these two leave the team, especially considering they helped win the teams first ever Stanley Cup, but that's how the cookie crumbles. As previously mentioned, players move teams, and LA are not only losing players, they have so far brought one new guy into fold as well; Jeff Shultz signed a one year deal, which should hopefully help the sting of the departure of similar style defenseman Rob Scuderi.

Only time will tell who else is coming to, or going from, the organization over the next couple months. Either way, soon enough, we won't be talking post-season anymore - we'll be talking pre-season. Not long after that, we'll be watching the Kings make their way towards another championship run. Though they couldn't manage back-to-back cup wins, I'll certainly settle for two of out three years. Go Kings Go!

No comments: