Dwight King and Jordan Nolan are up. Slava Voynov is down. Jarret Stoll is hurt. Here's the thing: I assume Voynov is down mostly because he's waiver-exempt and Alec Martinez is not. I don't like seeing one of our best defensemen sent packing, but I expect there to be more room for him after the trade deadline.
I just got finished saying I think Jordan Nolan would look good on the fourth line next season, so I'm excited to see him on this road trip. Dwight King, I have an unfair bias against him because of his short visit last season, which of course wasn't his fault (he was thrown in and spat out of the Kopitar LW revolving door). The funny thing is, his numbers in Manchester are actually uniformly down from last season (the team is down too, so maybe that has something to do with it). I'm going to assume that Lombardi saw something in King in his visit last week.
And Stoll? What does his injury do to Lombardi's trade deadline position? I guess we don't know how hurt he is; and in any case, the fact that he's hurt doesn't affect his utility as a salary dump.
When I heard Nolan and King were both on the way, I (like the rest of you, I'm sure) started generating mental line combinations. I had a lot of ideas, some boring, some interesting, some terrible...but none of them was King-Richards-Nolan.
Here’s how the Kings lined up in practice today…
Brown - Kopitar - Williams
King - Richards - Nolan
Clifford - Loktionov - Lewis
Penner - Fraser - Hunter / Westgarth / Richardson
Scuderi - Doughty
Mitchell - Johnson
Martinez - Greene
I guess Brandon Kozun wasn't so impressive when Lombardi visited. And Linden Vey is still physically immature. But I don't even know what kind of line King-Richards-Nolan is supposed to be. Richards has been doing the hard defensive minutes (a la Handzus). Is Sutter going to throw Nolan and King into that? I just remembered that Sutter himself was in Manchester during the All-Star break, so he and Lombardi are that much more likely to be on the same page with regard to the new second line.
Maybe I understand it though. Maybe the idea is that there is no stopper line. Every line is a stopper line. Kopitar's line is the stopper line with finesse. Richards' line is the stopper line with muscle. Loktionov's line is the stopper line with speed. And Fraser's line is...the line with Penner on it. Seriously, though, Penner and Trent Hunter with Fraser in the middle is a grinder line with skill (Hunter had softish hands once, I seem to recall). So in a way, it's four stopper lines, which makes sense on what is essentially a stopper team.
Still, it's weird.
(I would actually like to see Loktionov and RIchards switch places; Lokti played well with Nolan in Manchester; and Richards flanked by Clifford and Lewis is a more energetic version of Penner/Richards/Stoll.)