Here's the same (as the last post) little map of the lines and "boxes" for the forwards:
Penner/Smyth - Kopitar - Williams/Brown
Smyth/Penner - C2 - Brown/Williams
LW3 - C3 - Simmonds
LW4 - C4 - RW4
In this post, I'm looking at bottom-six centers. Brackets -- [ ] -- indicate the player is unsigned. Parentheses -- ( ) -- means the player is RFA. Double parentheses -- (( )) -- means he's UFA.
- People seem to think he's going to re-sign at a steep discount. If he does, that puts Stoll pretty solidly in the C2 position, with Handzus in C3, which likely means no Schenn or Loktionov.
- UNLESS the plan would be to give Zeus 4th line minutes. I guess I can kinda see that. But would a line centered by Handzus ever really be a 4th line? Wouldn't Zeus just creep back in to those critical defensive situations? He could mentor Lewis (or Schenn) in the finer points of being a wily shut-down guy. That would leave Schenn, Lewis and Richardson duking it out for the remaining center spot, which would be either C3 or C4.
- Handzus, you might recall, was my MVP through most of last season, but I find it hard to get excited about the prospect of re-signing him. Wouldn't he want more than a one year deal? And is there any advantage to that, for the Kings? I freely admit I get restless in the off-season and get too bored too quickly with conservative but (probably) prudent solutions. But signing Handzus for another year or two is very conservative, even by the usual Lombardi/Murray yardsticks.
- Lombardi could have re-signed Sean O'Donnell, but chose to upgrade to Willie Mitchell. I have to think he'll give a lot of thought to making room for the younger centers, especially this next guy, who isn't even all that young anymore.
- Ideally, Lewis graduates to the stopper role played by Handzus the last four years.
- He's already killing penalties, and has shown the ability to jump up to top-six for spot duty.
- The upgrade in speed from Handzus to Lewis would be huge; and Lewis is a smart, two-way player
- ...but Handzus's hockey knowledge is vast and he's a bigger body.
- Hopefully, Lewis signs a 2 or 3 year deal and year after next he's solidly entrenched at C3.
- My restlessness (per above) has me wishing for Lewis at C3 in 2011-12, but I admit that might be rash.
- Like Lewis, Richie is RFA this summer.
- He's been useful the last couple of years, but inconsistent, and the emergence of Lewis has made him kind of Lewis Jr.
- I was wondering if one of these two players (Richardson) might be traded before draft day, but now that Moller has officially gone on a Swedish vacation, it seems more likely that Lombardi will want to keep them both around.
- No-one will feel too bad about making him a healthy scratch night after night, so he has value as an insurance policy, the forward version of Davis Drewiske.
Jordan Nolan, ((John Zeiler))
- pugilists, one Clifford-sized (bigger, actually), the other Clune-sized.
- I will be interested to see if Lombardi re-signs Zeiler. My guess is....ummm....yes. But I'm not sure. He had a pretty good season in Manchester. Whether he's a better option than Rich Clune as an energy/agitator, I don't have an opinion. I like them both.
- What I saw of Jordan Nolan in juniors was terrifying in a good way. I didn't see him at all in Manchester, but I would not be surprised if he gave Westgarth a run for his money this fall. Nolan is smaller, but has some skill.
- I thought he did pretty well season before last in his few games, that one big cough-up notwithstanding. I don't see how he gets back in the line-up though. Except, obviously, due to inj****s.
- I'm a little confused by Czarnik's contract status, since he jumped from NCAA (where he would have 4 years to sign with the Kings) to the CHL (where he would have only two). I think he doesn't have to be signed until next year, which would be good, because he can play a year in Manchester if that's the case.
- spent the year in the ECHL. I feel like he won't get a contract, but what do I know.