Drew Doughty is close to his return, if not next game, then the game after. Yes, I understand that the responsible, conservative, grown-up thing to do is to return Viatcheslav Voynov to the AHL. But is that the best idea?
I know that sounds like the lead-in to a post about how the Kings should keep Voynov, but it's really not. I really don't know the answer. I'm trying to work it out as I go.
- Voynov, as Terry Murray has pointed out a few times, is an excellent replacement part for Doughty, since they play more-or-less the same kind of game.
- He's like a spare Doughty. That's a good thing to have.
- Ron Hextall recently commented that Voynov is NHL-ready now. Not almost, or close, or kind of. He's ready.
- He led all Kings in ice-time last night. As a rookie playing in his fourth game. Did Doughty do that? Probably. But still...
- Doughty, Jack Johnson, Alec Martinez and Voynov all work in roughly the same genre. They're all speedy, not physically huge, can hit, good on the power-play.
- Murray has each defensive pair built on theory of the young-speedy guy playing with the crusty older fellow.
- So there isn't room for four of Doughty, Johnson, Martinez or Voynov.
- Unless you're willing to sit one in the press box. (No.)
- Or you're willing to pair two of them up. (Hmm. Maaaybe.)
- And you would have to get rid of Matt Greene. I frequently wish that Greene were faster or smarter or something. But I'm not ready to say the Kings would be better off with a third pairing of Martinez and Voynov.
- At some point in the future I can imagine Voynov and Johnson playing together. Johnson would be able to go back to his natural left side. But is JJ (who has been playing great) ready to be the veteran mentor to Voynov? That sounds risky.
- I can also see Rob Scuderi and Willie Mitchell working as the third pair, in a world in which (1) there is no Matt Greene, and (2) Doughty and Johnson have graduated to veteran status. That day has not arrived, though it might not be too far off.
- The only other way it makes sense to keep Voynov with the big club is if Lombardi feels like he's a better option than Martinez right now. I'm not sure about that. Voynov has more upside than Martinez, but Martinez has the experience.
- And Martinez is not waiver-exempt.
- Sounds like I've talked myself into sending Voynov down. Dammit.
- But I wouldn't be surprised if Lombardi moved a defenseman soon.