Now, suggesting this team would be a different team if everyone was healthy is probably a bridge too far. The Kings had most of a lineup in the early days of the season, when they were only really missing Dustin Brown. Jonny Brodzinski’s been out since the start of the season, too, but even given that he had a promising camp and showed a lot of effort this summer, he’s still somewhat of an unknown commodity in terms of what he actually would have produced, given a regular spot in the lineup. Jonathan Quick’s absence hurt, but Jack Campbell and later, Cal Petersen, have both stood tall in his place.
This team, for whatever reason, has been doomed from the start. But this:
This is not helping.
If I did the math right, the Kings have $24,175,000 tied up in players who cannot play right now. That is a lot of money in players expected to be difference makers (Ilya Kovalchuk — the Willie Desjardins Problem aside), solid all-around guys (Trevor Lewis, Alec Martinez), or some much needed speed (Carl Hagelin).
With the biggest names on this list not even being close to returning, the Kings are boasting a roster that very closely resembles the Ontario Reign’s. It’s not necessarily great developmentally for players like Austin Wagner, Sean Walker, or even Cal Petersen to be getting limited minutes (or sitting on the bench) when they could be playing in all situations down in Ontario. But such is the danger of being a) a cap-strapped team who b) made few off-season moves to bring in NHL-ready players who c) now is dealing with Literally All The Injuries, Ever. You don’t get to use your AHL squad as a developmental team when your prospects have all gotten called up to the NHL out of necessity.
A recap of last night’s disappointment in Columbus. [Jewels from the Crown]
And the view from the other side of the ice. [The Cannon]
Post-game notes and reactions from Willie Desjardins, Anze Kopitar, and Jeff Carter. [Kings Insider]
Jeff Carter and Jake Muzzin continue to pop up in trade speculation. [NBC Sports]
Matt Luff is making the most of his stint with the Kings, and he might have Matt Moulson to thank. [The Athletic]
An AHL check-in, including a peek at the Ontario Reign, who are dealing with lineup challenges of their own after seeing many of their best players get the call to the NHL. [EP Rinkside]
Kings prospect defenseman Cole Hults is working on his two-way game this year. [USCHO]
Gabe Vilardi and Jaret Andersen-Dolan have hit the ice for Hockey Canada’s training camp, but aren’t being rushed into game play as they both deal with injuries. [TSN]
A deeper look at Gabe Vilardi’s return to the ice and pro hockey debut. [NHL]
Former Kings Things
I saw the Penguins play on Wednesday. I had feelings.
Elsewhere in the World
Before Bill Ranford worked his goalie coach magic on the Kings’ netminders, he coached a very small Shannon Szabados:
Throw back to my first year of goaltending with community leant pads. Bill Ranford was and still is my favorite goalie of all time & the man who mentored my youth goaltending days! Thankful that my parents took me to his goalie school every summer! Thank you Ranford fam! @LAKings pic.twitter.com/dc7xIyrulw— Shannon Szabados (@ShannonSzabados) December 13, 2018
Gritty: mascot, cultural phenomenon. [The Ringer]
Suggested goal songs for NHL superstars. [ESPN]
If you’re looking for the future, he’re an expansion draft simulator. [CapFriendly]
Is it ever really a hockey season without some Edmonton-based drama? [Edmonton Sun]
One of the more succinct and accurate descriptions of hockey I've seen in a while.— Marc Dumont (@MarcPDumont) December 14, 2018
"The combination of brutality and grace is amazing. Seriously, it’s like figure skating and rugby had a love child." pic.twitter.com/NHnuFdRVLJ
The NWHL is holding its draft next week, and there are several ways new players could have an immediate impact on their teams. [The Ice Garden]
The annual rumors of Jamie Benn’s demise are greatly exaggerated. [Defending Big D]
Do some advance scouting of the Pittsburgh Penguins, the Kings’ next foe, by giving their game a watch tonight. They’re looking to rebound after losing to the at-that-time last place team in the league. An unexpected hat trick by Bryan Rust (with an assist to Brent Seabrook for an own goal) wasn’t enough to power them past the Chicago Blackhawks. Plus, again, another chance to see Tanner Pearson and experience feelings like “sadness” and “confusion”. The Penguins face off against the Boston Bruins at 4:00 PM Pacific; the game can be watched via the NHL’s streaming service.