Hey, remember Nick Deslauriers? Ranked #13 in the Jewels from the Crown Top 25 Under 25? Defenseman, without the defense? We mentioned that the Manchester Monarchs were trying an interesting experiment, putting the offensively talented Deslauriers at left wing. That experiment got a lot more serious when Deslauriers scored four goals in the Monarch's first preseason game. He was seen recently on Manchester's top line with Tyler Toffoli and Linden Vey.
We haven't seen anything like that from the Los Angeles Kings since Peter Harrold, but coach Darryl Sutter's quotes at practice might hint at another... experiment. Alec Martinez, blog favorite and regular healthy scratch on defense, just might get a shot at left wing.
Gann Matsuda of Frozen Royalty was the first to share the news. Apparently, this news was broken in the most nonchalant fashion; when Sutter was asked why he shuffled the lines today, he gave a couple reasons, including "We're trying Marty on left wing." That quote is from Jon Rosen at LA Kings Insider, as well as the following quotes from Darryl Sutter:
(explaining the experiment further) He’s not going to go in ahead of 13 forwards, but I’ve done it before with a defenseman to see if they can play there... if he can skate and read the play, skate well enough to do things as a forward that are different than a defenseman, it’s not that big a deal.
(sharing when the thought crossed his mind) Every time he’s backchecking when he should have been skating backwards.
From the wording and from the line rushes today, it's not like this is going to happen tomorrow. Nevertheless, it's an intriguing idea, and if the play of Jake Muzzin improves, Martinez might need another way to get into the lineup. Sutter hasn't been happy with his left wings, as evidenced by today's practice lines:
Yeah, that's a regular center on the first line, our captain on the third line, and two left wings fighting for the 12th lineup spot.
At any rate, Martinez certainly has offensive abilities, and his possession numbers are usually pretty stellar. Shifting offensive defensemen has been successful for other teams; one only needs to look at Brent Burns and the San Jose Sharks for an example. Then again, he doesn't have any forward experience, and it's hard to see him contributing on any of the top three lines for quite some time. So what do you think about this possibility? And do you think it could actually happen?