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2016-17 in Review: Who We Will Miss, Won’t Miss, and Might Miss

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Starting our season reviews with six players who are gone... or might soon be.

Setoguchi, Iginla, Gilbert, Purcell, King, and Greene. In case you needed a refresher.

For the next month or two, we’ll be taking a look at the players who made the Los Angeles Kings’ 2016-17 season what it was: a crushing disappointment that got people fired an up-and-down journey which managed to be both unusual and familiar. Rather than the good-bad-future-grade format we’ve used in past seasons, we’ll ask a crucial question and answer it using it what we saw this year.

We’re start by running down the performances of six players who might not — and in some cases, definitely will not — be back next season.

Will the Kings miss Devin Setoguchi, Dwight King, Teddy Purcell, Tom Gilbert, Matt Greene, and Jarome Iginla next season?

2016-17 in Review: “The Departed”

Player GP G A P Rel CF% Rel SCF% Rel GF% Bonus Stat
Player GP G A P Rel CF% Rel SCF% Rel GF% Bonus Stat
Devin Setoguchi 45 4 8 12 1.4% 8.6% -3.7% 61.1% 5v5 Scoring Chances For% (team-best)
Dwight King 63 8 7 15 -4.2% -4.2% -0.9% 417 career GP (8th all time for Kings LW)
Teddy Purcell 12 0 2 2 -7.3% -36.8% 0.0% 17.1% 5v5 Scoring Chances For % (team-worst)
Tom Gilbert 18 1 4 5 -2.5% -5.4% -20.7% 2.9% on-ice Sh% (team-worst)
Matt Greene 26 1 1 2 -3.0% -3.9% 15.1% 61.5% 5v5 Goals For% (team-best)
Jarome Iginla 19 6 3 9 -8.1% -14.6% -10.3% 18.2% Sh% (team-best)

(all percentage stats are measured at 5v5 play, via Corsica.hockey)

Devin Setoguchi was the Kings’ best story coming out of training camp, a veteran on a professional tryout offer who earned a shot thanks to multiple forward injuries. For over a month, he justified the Kings’ faith in him, filling the right wing spot on an impressive-looking (if not prolific) third line. Unfortunately, Setoguchi’s play took a major dip just as the Kings stopped needing him, and he went more than a month without a point as the Kings struggled through the winter. His impressive on-ice numbers never translated into results and he was sent to the AHL, and incorrect reports that he’d refuse to show up to Ontario overshadowed what should have been an respectful send-off. Setoguchi will head to Germany this fall, and we won’t miss him, but he was far from LA’s worst forward this season.

Dwight King is not someone we can evaluate without the bias of 5+ years of past history to go on. King was the right guy to share a name with this franchise, as his particular brand of big-body, low-event hockey set the template for what LA wanted out of all their bottom six players. And as you probably know, we loved that big goofy lug before he headed off to Montreal. But his injury-related downturn in 2015-16 didn’t totally resolve itself in 2016-17, and his scoring totals were even more underwhelming. And yeah, LA wants more net-front presence next season, but the sparks provided by younger forwards down the stretch will serve LA better than keeping King in the mix with other similar forwards. The Kings won’t miss him, but I will miss him, and isn’t that enough?

Jarome Iginla sparked the Kings’ offense down the stretch, and received praise from all corners of the LA hockey media and fanbase for his competitiveness and dedication. Iginla certainly brought what LA wanted from him in those areas, and there’s a chance he could return if he signs on the cheap. But going forward, NHL teams can’t expect a goal every three games, and they can’t expect him to hold his own at 5v5 play. Case in point: Anze Kopitar had a 48.9% Corsi For% skating with Iginla, which is 5% worse than he’s had in literally any season other than his rookie year. The Kings might miss Jarome if he does indeed moves into that new house he bought in Boston, because he’s an inspiring presence, drops the gloves, and can still pick the corner. But we won’t miss the overall package if he departs, especially because he isn’t going to be free this year.

Matt Greene is recovering from injury, yet again, after undergoing back surgery earlier in 2017. Three years ago I waxed poetic about how his last play in a Kings uniform might be as part of a Cup-winning goal, and then the Kings re-signed him, and he wasn’t bad! In fact, he’s never really been bad, at all, and several other short-term veteran defensemen have played more minutes with worse results. Greene served largely as a mentor for Kevin Gravel this year, and in sheltered minutes they held their own. But the Kings got a youth infusion on D this year, and Gravel looks ready to fill Greene’s role as a 6/7 defenseman. We might miss Matt Greene if he’s forced to retire or hangs on LTIR, but I’m confident that the young corps can play his role.

Teddy Purcell wasn’t the Kings’ living embodiment of Murphy’s Law this year — that was the remarkably unlucky Jeff Zatkoff — but man, things were brutal for the 43-point scorer in 2015-16. Purcell didn’t pick up a goal in 12 games with the Kings, and his possession and scoring chance numbers were even worse than his scoring totals. Maybe it wasn’t a surprise to watch him become an elite scorer with the Ontario Reign, but even as LA tinkered to find any semblance of goals, they didn’t give Purcell another shot. He might be rebound next year, but we won’t miss him even if he does.

Tom Gilbert was, like Purcell, a low-risk bargain. That risk didn’t pay off, largely because Gilbert had a penchant for watching pucks go in his own net this season and pucks simply didn’t go in on opposing goalies when he was out there. His offense wasn’t as hopeless as it was with Montreal in 2015-16, but it wasn’t enough to keep him in the lineup before a trade to Washington in February. We were impressed with his vision at times this season, but just as he started earning the coaches’ trust, he got a three-game suspension for boarding fellow boarder Nick Ritchie. He never got his groove back, and though he wasn’t terrible, we won’t miss him.

Stay tuned for our next 2016-17 in Review entry, on three young players who set themselves up for bigger roles next season.