Kings Depth Chart (4): Offensive-Minded Defensemen

GLENDALE AZ - SEPTEMBER 14: Nicolas Deslauriers #80 of the Los Angeles Kings skates with the puck past Geordie Wudrick #84 of the Phoenix Coyotes during the NHL Rookie game at Jobing.com Arena on September 14 2010 in Glendale Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

How many of these guys can be on one team at one time? Three? Four? If a player is an offensive weapon and is physically punishing, and smart, does a team need a third-pair of lurching shot-blockers? Sooner or later, the Kings are going to have to figure that out. Because it seems pretty likely that 5 or 6 of these guys are going to have NHL careers.

Brackets -- [ ] -- indicate the player is unsigned. Parentheses -- ( ) -- means the player is RFA. Double parentheses -- (( )) -- means he's UFA.

(Drew Doughty)

6'1", 219, shoots right

  • He's the standard. No need to repeat the details. We'll use Doughty as a point of comparison.

Jack Johnson

6'1", 210, shoots left 

  • JJ's hockey sense (or is it common sense?) may not be equal to Doughty's, but in every other way he's comparable to DD. They both have the skill to recover from defensive lapses. They both excel on the power-play. They both have a nasty streak (it took Drew's longer to emerge, but he's younger). They both like to hit. 
  • If anything, Jack was more composed than Drew this past season. 

[Nicolas Deslauriers]

6', 198, shoots left 

  • Of all the d prospects, I have the highest hope for Deslauriers. He could be the love child of Doughty and Johnson. I'm not sure, but I think he might be a better skater than either of them. He's got the offensive chops. He's physical, a little nasty. He has been known to fight. And, like DD/JJ, he's got a sparkle in his eye. A glint. Makes me think he just did something mischievous. I'm not quite crazy enough to say he could make the team this fall; a year in Manchester is probably in order. But I would not be stunned if he is the surprise answer to the age-old riddle, "who of Hickey, Martinez or Voynov will make the big club?" 

Viatcheslav Voynov

5'11", 193, shoots right 

(Alec Martinez)

6', 188, shoots left 

  • Ever since he won the fastest skater event at the AHL all-star game, with a time that was better than the NHL winner, I have been dying to see Voynov play his first game with the Kings. But when? WHEN??
  • Is he going to pass Martinez on the depth chart? Voynov and Martinez are similar, both being strong offensively and fast (or faaaaaast), but a notch or two below Doughty, Johnson and Deslauriers in the physical department.
  • Martinez is older than Voynov, and that's probably been a big factor tipping the scales in his favor thus far. But with the (possibly trumped up) pressure mounting regarding Voynov's desire to play in North America (you know the song: yes, he came here to play when people thought he might not, la la la, but now maybe he wants to go home, la la la, if Dean won't give him his shot soon, la la la), I get the feeling only one of these guys is going to stick with the Kings, and the other one will get moved sooner rather than later. I'm never right about these trade hunches, but that's what I've got.
  • My impression (possibly unfounded) is that Voynov is the weakest defensively of all of the names here. Maybe that's an old label I forgot to peel off. 
  • Also, Voynov is a right shot. Other than Doughty, everyone else shoots left. 

Thomas Hickey

5'11", 184, shoots left 

  • Who the hell knows? Injuries have laid waste to any momentum Hickey had, coming off his gold medals and1st round selection. At this point, maybe it's best to just think of him as any old prospect, with no expectations. 
  • Certainly, Hickey is a character guy, a smart player, a student of the game, and a natural leader. He is the poster child for Dean Lombardi's character in the locker room movement. 
  • I choose to view the last four years as Hickey's requisite "adversity" that will make him stronger. 
  • As a small-ish defenseman, he was always likely to take awhile to develop. I would not be surprised if he quietly came into camp and blew everyone away. 
  • The thing is, then what? He's got the same problem as everyone else on this list not named Doughty or Johnson. Where do they fit? 
  • Even if Matt Greene were shipped off to parts unknown (which may or may not be a good idea; we'll cover that in the next post, on stay-at-home d), that makes only two available spots, the Martinez spot and the Greene spot, for Martinez, Deslauriers, Voynov, Hickey and Muzzin to fight over. 
  • If Deslauriers gets his year of seasoning in the AHL, that still leaves Martinez, Voynov and Hickey to fight over one spot, because Muzzin would get the other one. That too we'll cover in the stay-at-home post, but suffice to say Muzzin is the most intimidating, the hardest hitter of the bunch, and would be needed to replace Greene's physicality. 
  • Martinez, Voynov and Hickey, fighting for a single spot, one which Martinez already secured the season before? Maybe Hickey will marinate another year in the AHL. But this is his contract year. Is Lombardi really going to get all the way to the end of the contract without Hickey ever getting into an NHL game?
  • My sense of Hickey is that he's a "complete package" who is really good at everything but not as good at each individual thing as someone else on this list. The wild card is mental, his ability (or not) to rise to the occasion of the Big Game. This is supposed to be one of his main superpowers. We won't know if he'll bring that with him to the NHL until we actually see him in the NHL. And that's a Catch-22, since he's going to need a bit of luck for that to happen with the Kings. (e.g. Voynov bolts for the KHL, Hickey outplays Martinez in camp...something like that). 

((Peter Harrold))

5'11", 190, shoots left 

  • He had a good season. He did what was asked of him. He didn't suck. And he's easy to scratch. For that reason alone, I wouldn't be surprised if he was re-signed. But, frankly, I would rather Hickey or Voynov get a chance to sit in the press box. I know that defies the conventional wisdom (you want your blue-chip prospects to be playing, not sitting), but at this point a cup of coffee in the NHL for one of those guys might be a better use of the Peter Harrold seats than letting Harrold have them for another year. 
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