Camp Day 1: Lines and Pairs

From Rich Hammond:

Morning lines/pairs " LA Kings Insider

Smyth-Kopitar-Brown

Ponikarovsky-Handzus-Simmonds

Dw. King-Loktionov-Kozun

Nolan-Azevedo-Vey

Kaunisto-Weal-Toffoli/Brace

Scuderi-Johnson

Harrold-Drewiske

Martinez-Muzzin

Dy. King-Mullen

 

Afternoon lines/pairs " LA Kings Insider

Parse-Stoll-Williams

Richardson-Lewis-Westgarth

Clifford-Schenn-Moller

Clune-Elkins-Holloway

Harnden-Czarnik-Meckler

Mitchell-Doughty

Hickey-Campbell

Kolomatis-Fransson

Deslauriers-Groulx

Some quick thoughts:

Forwards:

There are six forward lines that either are (1) set in slow-drying cement, or (2) clearly represent combinations Murray is auditioning.


Kopitar and Brown together again? Well, I was not a fan of their past work, maybe years ago I was, but not in the Murray era. Sounds to me like Murray saw something in the tape that made him think Williams and Stoll are a good fit. Or maybe he has decided that Brown was trying to do too much himself, and that's not really possible when you're playing with Kopitar (since AK usually has the puck). Parse jumpstarted Stoll's season last November, so I'm good with that. Poni with Handzus and Simmonds, everybody expected.

And now, we have three notions of what the fourth line might be. The first -- Clifford/Schenn/Moller -- in addition to being something I suggested some time ago -- is sheer genius and obviously Murray wants to see if it clicks. Maybe Moller is going to spend another year bouncing back and forth between here and Manchester. Maybe Clifford and/or Schenn will go back to junior. Or... Look, I just love the idea of this line. I have had it in my little chart for the season after this one, for about a year now. If they want to ripen a year early, that's fine by me.

The other two lines are variations on the same theme. One pugilist (Clifford, Westgarth, Clune), one skilled two-way center (Schenn, Lewis, Elkins), and one speedy snipery scoring type (Moller, Richardson, Holloway). I wouldn't be surprised to see Murray shuffle these parts around in search of sublime fourth line alchemy.

I also notice that, of these nine (fourth line) guys, six are completely unsuited for press box duty (Clifford, Schenn, Moller, Richardson, Holloway, Elkins), two are easy to picture in suits waiting for the appropriate game to put their skills to use (Clune, Westgarth), and one is Trevor Lewis, who is in the Purcell/Moulson sink-or-swim slot. My point is, if Clifford/Schenn/Moller clicks, what are the Kings going to do with Richardson? Moller, Holloway and Elkins are waiver exempt; Richardson is not.

Lastly, I see Holloway has been bumped up into one of the serious lines. For now, at least. Compare to Loktionov, Kozun, Kaunisto and Nolan, each of whom (again, for now) are not. I assume Loktionov (especially) will get a real look at some other linemates.

I also expect Nolan to be the Clune of this camp and do something to get noticed...

Defense:


Rob Scuderi - Jack Johnson

Willie Mitchell - Drew Doughty

Peter Harrold - Davis Drewiske

Alec Martinez - Jake Muzzin

Thomas Hickey - Andrew Campbell

David Kolomatis - Johan Fransson

Nicolas Deslauriers - Samuel Groulx

Dylan King - Patrick Mullen

The first two are wet cement. The last two are the leftovers. Harrold-Drewiske just kind of screams "yes, we know they are 7 and 8." And these three are interesting:

Martinez - Muzzin

Hickey - Campbell

Kolomatis - Fransson

The first thing I notice about that is that the three guys I believe have a real chance of making the team (Muzzin, Hickey, Fransson) are each paired with a guy who is probably going to play in the AHL this year (Martinez, Campbell, Kolomatis). Now, Martinez is obviously more NHL ready than Kolomatis and Campbell, but I don't think anybody expects one of those pairs to emerge as the surprise of camp. Maybe Martinez/Muzzin has some sleeper potential, but not really (as that would require Martinez to outplay both Hickey and Fransson, and I don't see that happening; at least, I hope I don't). It will be interesting to see how those pairs evolve as we get deeper into camp. 

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