Say goodbye to Oscar Moller, and say goodbye to his potential 20 goals for next season. [...] While the Kings will retain his rights, I’m betting it’s unlikely he makes a triumphant return to the Los Angeles roster in the future.
I simply cannot entertain the possibility that he will not be back.
Which frankly is a little bit sad. Moller is a talented scorer, and I still think he has some real ability to offer to an offensively challenged team like the Kings. [...] Brett Hull. Brian Gionta, Pavel Datsyuk [and] Martin St. Louis [...] weren’t even in the NHL by the [age at which] Moller is getting ready to leave it.
Listed at 5’10″ and 189 pounds, Moller is nobody’s definition of a power forward. [...] He performed quite well last season, despite never really being given a chance to get into a rhythm or develop some chemistry with linemates. He added some useful spark to the Kings in game 2 of the playoff series this season, but failed to make the roster again for the next four games.
Unfortunately he just doesn’t seem to fit into the system that Murray has established, and although he is easily talented enough to fill a spot on the bottom-6, he’s just not built for that kind of game. It’s top-6 or bust for the small guy, but it’s a role that Murray doesn’t seem to want to give him.
I imagine for Moller it's frustrating that he's kept out of the line-up in favor of (variously) Scott Parse (who wasn't ready, shockingly, after six months on the shelf), Brad Richardson (who was a defensive liability about half the time), Justin Williams (who was good in game one and then less so once the adrenaline wore off), Dustin Penner (who was not effective), and Kevin Westgarth (who played well, but come on, that's just insulting -- just because our enforcer didn't completely embarrass himself doesn't mean it was the right decision to play him over a responsible two-way forward with speed and finish).
Although it’s certainly still possible that Moller makes a successful return to the National Hockey League, I don’t think it’s going to be with the Kings.
Stop saying that.
As we’ve established, Moller is not going to be a bottom-6 player, and his size does make it somewhat less likely that he’ll be a center in the league. So he’s looking to fill a winger spot on the top 2 lines. That means he’s going to have to out battle Brown, Williams, Penner, Toffoli, as well as any additions that the Kings make between now and his return.
Dustin Penner will likely be gone after next season (it would be great if he turned it around, but it's probably unwise to count on that). Williams is signed long-term but is injured about half the time. Brown would be much more effective in a third line role. Tyler Toffoli, in two or three years, should make the team. Ryan Smyth and Jarret Stoll will be gone after next year. Why can't our top six, in two years (say), be Moller, Kopitar, Andrei Loktionov, Maxim Kitsyn, Toffoli and Williams? Kyle Clifford, Brayden Schenn and Dustin Brown on the third line. Trevor Lewis, Wayne Simmonds and (to pick a name I like) Jordan Nolan on the 4th.
Kitsyn - Kopitar - Williams
Moller - Loktionov - Toffoli
Clifford - Schenn - Brown
Lewis - Nolan - Simmonds
Yeah, that team would just suck, wouldn't it?
While the fight for a roster spot is going to be more difficult in the coming seasons, the loss of Moller is a depth hit for the Kings. Certainly injuries will come up during the season, as they always do, and the Kings will miss the ability to bring up an offensive, talented winger like Moller. There’s really nobody else on the team that can fill just the same role.
Fortunately, the Kings don't need scoring depth.
While it’s disappointing for Kings fans that Moller is heading out, it’s also understandable from his perspective. Moller has never really had a great chance to make the roster, and though he played a full 40 games in his rookie season, he’s been given fewer and fewer chances to find his game at the NHL level. Clearly Murray’s system is one that does not value what Moller brings to the table, and Moller made the choice that is arguably the best for himself and his career. If he’s able to return to Sweden and prove his offensive ability, he may have enough value to justify other teams to bring him back and give him a chance to blossom, a la Moulson in another NHL city.
I think you're leaping several steps beyond where you need to. Moller is Kings' property. Unless he plans on staying in Sweden for 5 or 6 years, he's going to be Kings' property when he opts to return to the NHL. Which he will. He had better. (Keep in mind, I may just be in denial.) Dean Lombardi drafted Moller. Dean Lombardi nixed trades because he wasn't willing to deal Moller. He's not going to just let him walk away.
It’s far from a long-shot, but it looks like unless Murray is out, he’s not coming back to Los Angeles. So goodbye Moller. You brought us some swell times, and we’ll likely miss you this season. Hopefully this doesn’t come back to bite us in the future.
Unless Terry Murray can get the Kings deep into the playoffs, and get the team playing a consistent, less (to quote Rob Scuderi) "immature" brand of hockey, I seriously doubt Murray is going to get a new contract. Lombardi has a lot invested in offensive players like, oh I don't know, Drew Doughty, Jack Johnson, Anze Kopitar, Dustin Brown, Tyler Toffoli, Nicolas Deslauriers, Viatcheslav Voynov, Andrei Loktionov, Thomas Hickey, Maxim Kitsyn, Trevor Lewis, Oscar Moller...
He didn't trade for, sign or draft these guys to be the New Jersey Devils. And even if he would be satisfied with the New Jersey Devils, to be that, you can't crap out in the middle of the season for a couple of months, or take several periods off in the playoffs.
And the team is up against the cap, starting as soon as Doughty is re-signed. There is no more slack to cut anyone. Murray's system must cater to -- adjust to -- the talent Lombardi has provided, and do it in the next 12 months, or the experiment in suffocating defense that falls apart when the chips are down, is over.
And then Moller can come back.