New year, new podcast! On this episode, James and Robyn delve deep into the IIHF World Junior Championship and some of the notable Los Angeles Kings prospects playing for a chance at glory, among them being Alex Turcotte, Quinton Byfield, and Alex Kaliyev. James makes note of Turcotte and Kaliyev playing on a line and thinks they almost look like they’re auditioning for a spot on the NHL roster. TSN said Drew Doughty sucks and that made him mad — but is this really “fired up” Drew Doughty or merely irritated-on-a-typical-level Drew Doughty? Plus, James introduces a new segment called “James on Jamsen.” Then stick around until the end for a new game of NHL, taxi squad or Ontario Reign.
What did you enjoy about the WJC? Who do you think will end up on LA’s roster this year? Could it finally be Jaret Anderson-Dolan’s time to shine? Will the Kings be rewarded for taking a chance on Lias Andersson? Should Rob Blake pursue ugly contracts to get a high pick? Tell us your thoughts in the comments below!
(PS: Sorry about Robyn’s crappy audio quality. It’s going to be fixed by the next episode, we promise!
PPS: This episode was recorded on January 2nd.)
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INTRO: [Musical interlude plays, then VO] Are you ready for the most informative, well-thought out hockey podcast on the Internet? You are?? Sorry, it’s just Crown Conversations with your hosts, Robyn P. and James Nicholson.
JN: [Boisterously] Hello and welcome to Crown Conversations! I’m your host Robyn—no, I’m James and I’m joined by co-host Robyn [laughing] and I’m so good at this and I’m still so certain you’re glad you made me co-host, Robyn,
RP: [laughs] James, your radio background is showing.
JN: It sure is. I’m so good at this. [Robyn laughs] But. Yeah. Anyways. Guys, it’s training camp. It’s World Junior Championships. It’s time for wild speculation and all kinds of things as we prepare for the 20...21 NHL season that will start in a couple of weeks and end, supposedly, in the summer and who knows what’s going to happen in between because [punctuating each word] this world is weird.
RP: [laughs] Well before we get started, I’d like to point out one thing—actually, two things. First of all, I have to say I’m really sorry, I don’t know anything that’s happening with the World Juniors. I have not watched one single minute of it. My replays come from a guy who is using MS Paint to show the replays, so... [James laughs] I find him delightful, personally. He’s a great follow, you should look him up on Twitter. [Pause] Steven Ellis, THN. Go follow Steven Ellis and watch his… Er… Look out for his MS Paint quote unquote replays. They’re outstanding.
JN: Oh my gosh, I am doing this right now…
RP: [chuckles] The other thing… So… [Pause] I… Okay. This-this is going to be a little bit of a rant, so please forgive me for this.
JN: [excitedly] Oh, I am going to put myself on mute and thoroughly enjoy this. [Robyn laughs] Something tells me it might have something to do with what you were ranting about on Twitterrrrr.
RP: Yesss! Okay, so, if you don’t follow me on Twitter, that’s fine. I am @robyn_jftc if you still want to follow me on Twitter. But… So, Elliotte Friedman came out a couple of days ago and he said that, “Oh, by the way, it looks like the NHL will be having their outdoor games after all this year except for the fact that it’s going to be in Lake Tahoe. [Huffs] Okay. Well. There’s a lot of things to start here—oh and the uh probable, and this is just wild speculation so my anger could be mislaid here, although not all of it is… So, the-the speculated probable teams are the Flyers, the Bruins, Avalanche, and the Golden Knights.
So if you’re not familiar with California or Nevada geography, Lake Tahoe, the actual lake itself, is an enormous lake in the mountains. There are several resort towns around the lake and the whole area is simply gorgeous and I encourage everyone to visit once covid is over or/and you have had your vaccination. Anyway. Absolutely stunning place. Lovely in the summer; lovely in the winter. And so, South Lake Tahoe, the city where Edgewood Resort is, borders California and Nevada. Half it is in California, half of it is in Nevada; you know you’re on the Nevada side when you see casinos. This is where I get really upset.
Right now, at this very moment, California is leading the country in infection rates and deaths in the midst of a GLOBAL PANDEMIC. This is going to be a recurring theme. Yeah, we are STILL in the midst of a GLOBAL PANDEMIC. The latest, more infectious strain of covid-19 has actually been found in California; there are zero—as in, absolutely NONE—NO ICU beds left in all of Los Angeles County. They are turning ambulances away at the door. So, what happens when the ER gets too full, the hospital says, “We can’t take anymore patients. Go away.” They still take walk-ins obviously, they just tell the ambulances “go somewhere else.” [Pause] Listen, this is really bad because, if you’re ever in an accident, you’re going to the store or whatever, you’re in a horrible car accident and you need to call an ambulance, you need to get taken to the hospital, then… If you get taken to the hospital, the hospital will say, “Sorry, we have no room. Go find another inn to take this person to get medical because they have too many covid patients.” [Pause] So that’s where I start to get really upset.
And I know Edgewood Resort is technically in Nevada. But [chuckles wryly] let’s not kid ourselves. It’s 5 minutes from the California border. California people—California residents are already having enough problems as it is following Governor Newsom’s stay-at-home orders. I get it. It’s… [Long pause] It’s been tough. And… Whoever you wanna blame, if there’s anybody you wanna blame, I totally understand the frustration, especially coming from Governor Newsom of all people and our state legislators who have not been following their own advice and their own lockdown orders. I totally get the anger and the frustration there. And for anybody who thinks, “Oh, it’s all overblown”, there’s Recall Newsom. You should go look it up. Some of the things people say are… [brief pause] It’s wild. Um… [Pause] But, anyway! You’re putting an outdoor spectacle... in the midst of a pandemic—which, first of all is irresponsible as it is—but you’re putting it 5 minutes from a state that is leading the country, which by the way, is… like… second or third in the entire world in [incredulously] infection rates and deaths. So, it’s like… Maybe not a good idea…
And then, one of the other things I said, logistically, logically… I find that it wouldn’t make sense to put the game in Tahoe when Colorado has like 12 ski resorts. There’s Vail, Aspen, Beaver Creek… Three of like the most posh ski resorts in Colorado… [Long pause] Plenty of places there (Colorado)! Why not put it there? Like I… Just… Logistically, to me, that just makes more sense than being like, “Oh yeah, we’re also going to fly out these two Eastern Conference teams because that’s what NBC wants.” [Long pause] Just… [Pause] Yeah. So, my whole rant basically centers around: people in California are selfish enough. Don’t bring on this added pressure to this resort city… There. End of rant.
JN: I mean, also in Northern California, the Sharks can’t even be in their own facilities right now.
RP: Well, that’s Santa Clara County.
JN: We’re on the other side of the state in terms of east and west, but it... It… It just seems to be… uh… At the very least, very tone deaf by the NHL. And [sighs] yeah. And [sighs again] Good rant, Robyn. Really good rant. I gotta [inaudible as Robyn laughs] for that.
RP: I’m sorry, it just made me so mad when I was thinking about it. And I was just like, “We’re in the middle of a global pandemic!” This is not just a flu! This is not just, “Everybody wash your hands and stay away from other people.” This is literally “Stay away from other people, wear a mask, and stay the F at home! Don’t. Go. Out!” Like… Ambulances are being turned away from hospitals, why do you think this is a good idea? [Long pause]
JN: Because, money.
RP: Okay. Can you not get money out of Colorado? Can you not get it out of St. Louis? What about Boston er Massachusetts? What about Philadelphia?
JN: Yeah, but it’s easier to gamble there and get into other trouble.
RP: [Interrupting] 12 states that have… [Heavy sigh]
JN: [laughing] Yes, I am on your side, Robyn. I am sorry I am poking the bear right now.
RP: No, it’s okay. It’s just like, to me, it’s like… Okay. Even if you look at it from the weather standpoint, Tahoe is very beautiful, the weather does tend to fluctuate from being 30 degrees to 60 degrees within the same week, so…
RP: It’s just like, there are 12 other states that probably you could do just as well or better. I’m sure they have lakes and beautiful vistas in Missouri.
RP: [laughs] Okay, Missouri is in the plains, so probably not, but… [Overlapping with James] The Rockies are pretty famous….
JN: There could be games in Kansas City this year, who knows.
RP: It seems unlikely since BC finally signed off on the NHL, so…
JN: Yeah, they did. But, we can hope because it-it really seemed like that they’ve got one heck of an arena there that AEG is hoping to fill with a hockey team one day. Um, speaking of filling hockey teams, the LA Kings training camp—they get training camp before a lot other teams because they failed to make the play-in playoffs for last year and we’ve had three days of high scoring, high skill, Todd McLellan quoted action. [Robyn laughs] And… Man… It… I think everyone’s favorite story, at least my favorite story thus far from training camp, is the All Swedish line of Carl Grundstrom, Lias Andersson, and Samuel Fagemo because they keep putting up points and scoring and uh they just appear to have an insane amount of chemistry right off the bat, which is very fun.
I think today Andersson mentioned that his dad and Fagemo’s dad like played together in Sweden and they’ve known each other since they were very little kids
JN: Which is really cool. And so we are recording on the 2nd, so it today it looks like Grundstrom had a goal and primary assist in the scrimmage games today between Group A and Group B. And that is the group that has the number one line with Iafallo, Kopitar and Brown; what we would assume would be the number four line of Trevor Moore, Mike Amadio, and Matt Luff; and the All Swedish Line; and then the final line in the forward grouping is Eyssimont, Aidan Dudas, and Tyler Madden.
So… That is a group that is... it’s pretty interesting, especially given they maybe don’t have the premier defensive pairings in that group. Because uh, yeah, the first pairing is Anderson and Roy and then Clague and Mark Alt and Daniel Brickley and Sean Durzi as the third pair. That’s... pretty fun considering they’re going up against what I think is another, like, pretty good, pretty responsible, pretty mature group in Group B and getting some good action, so to speak, so far in the three days of training camp.
RP: Yes, but, the caveat is, as always—not to be Debbie Downer today. Apparently this is going to be my role, but I mean, the caveat here, is it’s just training camp. And I don’t mean to be negative, I really don’t—
JN: [interrupting] Lias Andersson for Hart! He’s going to win the Hart Trophy this year as the—
RP: [laughs] No, but I mean—
JN: They’re going to win three Cups this year, that’s how good they’ll be after these three days of training camp.
RP: [laughs] No, we saw last year—I forgot who it was—but in-in 2019, when training camp opened, we saw some really good lines that looked like they had a lot of chemistry and then… Um… Todd McLellan, he was around last year, right? That was his first full season?
RP: Second full season?
JN: A season.
RP: I can’t remember. Yeah. We saw… [Sighs] I forget who it was anymore, but we some people who, I think they all got traded away [chuckles], but they had like really good chemistry during-during training camp and just like preseason and everything and it looked like they should start the season that way and Todd McLellan was questioned about it and he goes, “Yeahhh, we’ll see.” And then they were not a line until the Kings had lost like some ridiculous amount of games in a row and then you put some back together and magic happens! And I was like [sarcastically] “wow, maybe we should’ve tried this in the beginning!”
JN: Was that Kempe and Wagner on a line?
RP: I think so. I mean, I-I know it’s like okay, you’ve got two fast kids in Kempe and Wagner, neither of them have very good hands, but still it looked like they were having success early on.
JN: Yeah, and I mean especially [exhales] for Todd McLellan’s system where there is a lot of energy expected of you in the offensive zone, like you’re going to be hitting, you’re going to be creating plays for your linemates, you are going to be moving a ton, that’s just the way it is. Having that maybe innate sense of chemistry is a huge benefit for that system. Really quick, the other group here at the start of training camp, the top line is Kempe, Vilardi, and Frk; followed by Wagner, Lizotte, Carter; Akil Thomas, Jaret Anderson-Dolan, and Rasmus Kupari; and then Boko Imama and Drake Rymsha make up that fourth with—I guess Marcus Phillips being extra skating defenseman, maybe has been filling in on that line or they’ve been cycling through forwards, double shifting some guys... But, yeah, that is… [Long pause] It’s kind of fun because we have the added element of the taxi squad this year. And it—for me, I’m kind of like “ooh, who does taxi squad and who goes to the Reign?”
RP: Wait, what’s “taxi squad”?
JN: So, taxi squad is essentially a group of four to six players, including one goalie who you get to carry with you, who are not on the AHL roster, who get to practice with the NHL team, who are there to jump in in case anyone on your team gets covid and cannot play. So, yeah. [Pause] So, you start to think of guys like Quinton Byfield being a taxi squad guy if the Ontario Hockey League doesn’t happen this year, which it appears uhhh, heh… who knows if that will happen? And, yeah.
So, we have guys who, maybe a guy like Sean Durzi or Mark Alt as an extra defenseman, are playing on the taxi squad. Or maybe even a guy like Jacob Moverare, who’s in camp over from Sweden. I mean, Moverare… Everyone has always liked his game, he’s very smart, he just does not have a lot of speed, probably doesn’t play the game fast enough to be at the NHL level, but seems from all accounts to be a very heady and responsible player. So, who knows what this looks like for the Kings when you look at that Grundstrom-Anderson-Fagemo line, ooh. That could be a really competitive line at the AHL and who knows if something happens with the Kings during the season: injuries, covid—you know, god forbid that happens… Those guys could step in and maybe make a fun impact for the team. Who knows how set Todd McLellan is on the lines? We saw last year, he had to shuffle, had to jumble some guys around. Obviously, seven games, he found something that was working.
RP: So, the thing is with Moverare is that he is a really good, really solid stay-at-home defenseman and the Kings absolutely loved his game when he was in Sweden. And I think when Patrick Bexell… He uh… Spoke about Moverare and spoke to his coach. But by all accounts, it seemed the Kings really were very happy with Moverare’s development but they wanted him to stay in Sweden an extra year or two for that extra quote unquote seasoning. And in order to really play against better competition than he would get in the AHL because I guess they feel that because Moverare’s team was first in the SHL last year, his development would be better served over there to get a lot of minutes rather than rotating with like the 12 defensemen that the Reign had last year.
JN: Right, and he’s a two-time SHL Champion. He’s won twice with his team and I mean by all accounts a very heady, smart defenseman and yeah… Yeah, where does he fit in this year? You have Olli Määttäl with Drew Doughty which Drew Doughty seems very, very excited about.
RP: [amused] Oh yeah, so wait, wait. Oh, we have to talk about Drew Doughty. Not-not right this second, but when we finish discussing—
JN: No, I… Hey, let’s go for it. Because the only other, yeah uh… Kurtis MacDermid and Sean Walker is the other pairing. Let’s talk about Drew Doughty and how fired up he is. [Robyn cackles] You knew it was going to be like this. All the YouTube videos of the, you know, Canadian sports networks where they just trash Drew Doughty NHL 21 rankings, ohhh… You knew he was going to see and get so fired up about it.
RP: [laughing] oh my god.
JN: Oh, I love it. I love mad Drew Doughty who’s going to be out for blood this year.
RP: He does not handle criticism well.
JN: Uhh… No. He is hyper ultra-competitive at everything, likes to win it every single thing he does, and if you’re telling him he’s not as good as he quote unquote “used to be,” he is now going to find a way to show up and be better than he ever was. And he talked about, with the extended offseason, he got some time to heal up. You know, because the rumor is, maybe the injury that he suffered at the World Cup of Hockey has never quite fully gotten better and he’s been playing a little bit hurt. He also said he’s gotten stronger, that his weight lifting routine was different because it wasn’t just maintenance this year. He has actually spent three or four years training with Olli Määttä in the offseason and so they already know each other pretty well. There’s already chemistry there. Olli Määttä, a two-time Stanley Cup champion defenseman. Now stepping on—I mean he was not well-liked at the end of his tenure in Pittsburgh for being slow, same of this time in Chicago. But I mean no one talks about how fleet of foot Rob Scuderi was when he was paired with Drew Doughty, so I think they should have—
RP: Yes they did. [James laughs] James, that is an absolute lie and you know it.
JN: Oh. Yeah. Yeah, he was a regular Kevin Dallman that Rob scuderi.
RP: Listen, listen. If he hadn’t taken one literally for the team and gotten his face smashed in in Game 6, people would still be complaining about him.
JN: They would and I have always had a lot of love and appreciation for The Piece because… He uh… 1) He’s a nice guy and 2) could really just pound a post-game sandwich like it was nobody’s business which is still one of my favorite things about him.
RP: That’s amazing. [Pause] Alright, so. Talking about Drew Doughty, in case you haven’t seen it on social media anywhere or whatever your favorite blog is [fake cough] ahem, ahem, Jewels from the Crown, Drew Doughty [reading] “said he spent most of his break in Canada and was watching the cable sports network TSN. He couldn’t miss hearing the criticism that his game has slipped. ‘I’m seeing guys not having me (slotted) to make the Olympic team,” Doughty said. ‘And so that just frustrated me. I definitely don’t hear that from my peers — ever. And so it’s the media. You can look it up if you want to see it.’” [Brief pause] So, typical Drew Doughty. Which, actually, I find that to be calm Drew Doughty. That’s not “fired up” Drew Doughty by any means…
JN: “Fired Up Drew Doughty” was the one lifting heavy weights to loud music so he’s gotten out a lot of that aggression. We didn’t get him in the heat of the moment after he’d just heard those things on TV.
RP: Well, a lot of people were saying like, “Oh, like, why is Drew Doughty so angry?” I’m like, “That’s not angry Drew Doughty. That’s not even close to, like, pissed off Drew Doughty.”
JN: That’s just Drew Doughty and his super ultra-competitiveness.
JN: Which is part of why we love Drew Doughty. And why Drew Doughty can sometimes take weird penalties when he’s absolutely screaming at a referee for a penalty he probably did commit, so...
RP: [sarcastically] That’s leadership, James.
JN: Oh, oh, [bursts into song] James on Jamsen. [Robyn laughs] James on Jamsen. [sports broadcaster voice] Welcome to the new segment here on Crown Conversations it’s called “James on Jamsen” where he gives you the latest news about seventh-round draft pick by the LA Kings Aatu Jamsen out of Finlaaaaand. [Robyn laughs] That’s right, folks, Aatu Jamsen, he is currently the leading scorer for the Pelicans in the Under 20 SM-sarja league in Finland. He has 36 points, 10 goals, 26 assists in 24 games. He has 28 penalty minutes on the year and is a +12. He is second in the entire league in scoring and has recently talked about how proud he is to have been chosen by the LA Kings and is excited to continue to develop. Because, you know, not a lot of teams were willing to take a chance on him after having serious injury setbacks last year. And that, my friends, has been James on Jamsen woooooo. Okay, so, World Junior Championships is also going on right now.
RP: Yes! Um Lukas Pari—[pause] sorry, I think Lukash (Lukáš)? [Pause] Um Pařík who is a goalie currently playing for the Spokane Chiefs in juniors in the WHL is going to take on Canada and Quinton Byfield later in the quarterfinals.
JN: Is Pařík getting the start today? [Overlapping with Robyn] Because they have been kind of going back and forth.
RP: I don’t know—
JN: Um… With the Czech goaltenders between Pařík and Nick Malik. Um both of them have a shut out, both of them—oof—a 3.77 and a 3.27 goals against, both of them sub .90 on the save percentage but Pařík did have a really big shutout against Russia for the Czechs, which was awesome. RP: [overlapping] But then he had like a… [overlapping] He played out of his mind with that.
RP: Yeah, he was amazing against the Russians. The Russians are… Suffering a little bit in their juniors program right now… Um... I heard that they’re-they’re going to have, like, a setback for a couple of years until like… their 16-year-olds or whatever come of age. That’s what I heard. I don’t know how true it is.
JN: Yeah, I mean, watching the Russians against the Americans, one thing that was pretty obvious is that the Russians are pretty fancy free. They are wheeling and dealing, moving, and the Americans looked really uptight in that first game. And we are seeing… You know, Hall-of-Famer, absolute monster—well, a very small statured monster for the Soviet team and for the Detroit Red Wings way back—Igor Larionov is their coach and they are playing such a Soviet, classic Soviet style with a lot of weaving, a lot of circles, a lot of drop passes, and then open up a lane and just take it right to the net. And… They’re fun… But, ya saw against the Czechs, the Czechs blocked a lot of shots. They didn’t chase. And it was really fun. I am sorry if I am now dominating this right now because I’m so fired up.
RP: Yeah. [Quickly] No, no, no, it’s okay! I-I… [Chuckles wryly] I haven’t actually seen the World Juniors, but I have seen people talking about it. And I saw somebody take a screenshot, it was really interesting. When they were comparing the Czechs to the Russians and how the Czechs actually managed to beat the Russians in that, basically, they just kind of lined up. All four—well all five—guys basically just kinda went in a line in their own zone and was just kinda like, “No, you can’t come in, sorry.”
JN: Yeah, they-they did a really good job. Again, blocked a ton of shots. The Russians still had a lot of really great looking opportunities to score and Pařík did a great job. The Czechs have been really up and down throughout the tournament, which, you know, has also been fun. Speaking of up and down, Quinton Byfield hasn’t scored a ton except for one game where he went off for two goals and four assists for six points. That was also the game where I believe Jordan Spence, who drew into one game for a suspended Brandon [Braden] Schneider, got a goal. So, the Kings prospects contributing for Team Canada.
RP: According to Mayor’s Manor, Spence is supposed to draw into tonight’s game.
JN: Good. I-I am excited for him. I think he… He’s played really well. I mean, he’s above a point-a-game player as a defenseman in the QMJHL before their season was suspended. I just… Byfield is tied for sixth with scoring in the tournament, he has seven points in four games, he’s a +7, I mean he’s been on the ice for some key defensive moments for Team Canada in the round-robin—there haven’t been many of them because they’re blowing everyone out of the water—but…
RP: Kinda to be expected.
JN: Jordan Spence, I think… [sighs] There… There is this thing to Jordan Spence’s game where… I’m watching him and I’m going, “Am I looking at like a smaller offense-defenseman a la Ľubomír Višňovský? Or am I looking at a smaller offense-defenseman a la Jamie McBain?” and… I don’t know what it is yet with him. Uhh… I… Am excited to see him as a guy who has maybe been looked over in years past, maybe doesn’t have all the hype around him, who is stepping in and contributing for an absolutely stacked Team Canada.
Quinton Byfield, I think, is also the youngest guy on the team this year again. Which just blows my mind. ‘Cause... Man, is Team Canada good. Speaking of good, Trevor Zegras for the Americans is currently leading the tournament in scoring. He has 13 points in four games. [Pause] That’s pretty darn good.
RP: Isn’t he a Ducks prospect?
JN: He sure is!
JN: I believe he was chosen ninth overall by the Ducks. He is, I believe, best friends with Alex Turcotte. He has been playing to the left of Turcotte and Kaliyev. Turcotte, a goal, four assists. Kaliyev, one goal, three assists in four games. I mean, respectable. I think those two guys have looked really uptight and more focused on defense and their positioning, which has kind of allowed Zegras to run around and go crazy, which is fun and great to watch. But like… I think in terms of a Todd McLellan system, I’m kind of happy to see Turcotte and Kaliyev playing this way. Kinda makes you think “Ah, maybe uh, maybe they’re already auditioning if they can’t be at training camp.” [Robyn chuckles] I know for a fact that that’s not the case. They’re trying to win a gold medal at the World Junior Championships. But… I think there’s still a lot to enjoy about them.
Also, Brock Farber, the defenseman who was drafted this year by the Kings in the third round—er, second round—looking really good on the back end. He’s been, you know, the second pairing defenseman for Team USA the whole tournament, picking up some good assists, has a goal… Uhh… [Pauses] Kasper Simontaival for Finland… He’s been having a good tournament as well; two goals, three assists for five points in four games. Annnnd… Oh! Chromiak. Oh my gosh. Give me Chromiak all day. It has been a tough go for Slovakia in this tournament. Um.. Which is a shame. But I mean, that dude just posts up and lets it rip. He has been so much fun to watch on the power play. He only has one goal for one point in four games. But uhhh… Yeah. He has his role and played it well for a Slovakia team that definitely struggled unfortunately in the round-robin portion. I believe they do make it… Yeah, they did make it to the playoffs. [High pitched] Yeah? Yeah? [Pause] Yeahhhhh! Yeah, they play the U.S. tonight here on January 2nd. So, we get to see Chromiak, Martin Chromiak against the U.S. and Alex Turcotte. [Exhales] Oh my gosh, I just talked so much and I… I’m out of breath. Talk for a while, Robyn.
RP: [laughs] No one wants to hear me talk, they’ve heard me talk enough.
RP: Um… Actually, okay, I do wanna say one thing: Austria had a rough tournament. [Chuckles awkwardly] This is from Adam Kimelman [reading] “The only medal Austrian goalie Sebastian V… [pauses, trying to figure out how to pronounce this name] Van… Vaneschitz [Wraneschitz] should get is a purple heart for all the shots he’s seen. He’s faced 54 today—” this was tweeted, I think, a couple days ago, “—uh 54 shots today with 5 minutes left vs. Czech, 187 in 3 games. To compare, Justus Annunen of Finland saw 190 shots, most in the 2020 WJC—in 7 games.” That poor Austrian goalie child!
JN: Oh, man. Like… I felt the same about Germany, especially since they had to play shorthanded with players testing positive for covid… The Swedes had a lot of coaches who couldn’t be a part of the team... Which, by the way, Tobias Björnfot, having a very good tournament as well. He and Turcotte got into it a little by the side of the net the other night and that was fun.
RP: I did feel bad for Germany. I know they were eliminated today, but—
JN: They were not! Oh, oh, yeah, against Russia, sorry.
RP: They just… They played their hearts out. They left everything out there on the ice. And they, they’ve been playing shorthanded the entire tournament. I don’t know if they were ever… At any point, I don’t know if they had a full roster.
JN: Yeah. And, I mean… Gosh, like… Tim Stützle took that team on his back. He played great. They lost—lose 2-1 to the Russians. I mean, that’s…
RP: Ugh, brutal.
JN: That sure is an… My gosh, what an impressive freaking show from the kids from Germany. That is… [Sighs] That’s tough and they played really hard. And… I mean, they lost to Canada like 16-2 to open the tournament.
RP: Ugh, that was brutal. But they also played with like… I think like 12 players or 14 players.
JN: Yeah, like… There’s only so much they could do and they gave it their all and should hold their heads up high ‘cause they are just… I mean… To challenge that Russian team the way that they did was pretty awesome. And maybe the uh… the uh… [sighs] Maybe people will figure out how to stop that Russian team after what the Czechs did to them. [Long pause] I love World Juniors, it’s always so much fun. I’m just so excited by all the Kings prospects who have taken part in it already this year... We have a lot to look forward to for the Kings.
And speaking of this year, here’s a fun little wrinkle that Rob Blake mentioned: He’s looking into maybe doing something like what the Ottawa Senators did and taking on a contract to use some of their more than $12 million in cap space to gain an asset. And seeing as—
RP: [skeptical noise]
JN: —according to CapFriendly, there are currently 10 teams who are over the cap this year, there could be something for the Kings to do in order to take on some stuff and maybe make them a bit better in the short term, maybe get another draft pick for helping out a team… I mean, I kinda feel like Jim Benning would be willing to give up a first round pick if we took Loui Eriksson’s contract off his plate for him.
RP: But Loui Eriksson is so bad…
JN: Oh, yeah! No, he is. And the Kings would still have more than like six and a half million dollars in cap space if they took the contract on.
RP: Oh no I mean like I understand where you’re coming from, but I’m just... You want a usable asset, don’t you?
JN: Uhhh a first round pick for a team who I don’t think makes the playoffs this year in Vancouver would probably be a good one.
RP: How deep is the 2021 draft supposed to be?
JN: Uhhh well… It’s a bit more of a wild card this year than previous years ‘cause, you know, who knows what teams and what players can play when and for how long?
RP: That’s true.
JN: So, why not? [Long pause] But, sure as heck, it’d be nice to see the Kings have more first round picks to try to hit on some things earlier on because… Yeah… Who knows what the crapshoot of the 2021 NHL draft will be? It doesn’t seem like there is a clear-cut favorite at this point... So… Yeah… But there are… There are a lot of teams to be help—I mean, heck, even the Islanders need help because although they have $3 million in cap room, they haven’t re-signed Matthew Barzal yet, who is a Restricted Free Agent.
RP: Speaking of Islanders, they still have a lot of issues with Josh Ho-Sang. And I get that he has a lot of attitude issues. Like, a couple of years ago, he overslept and there were reports that he was like a poor sport and everything. But... There’s a lot of talent there and I wonder what it would take—they… The two sides do not seem to be getting along. Everybody knew that Josh Ho-Sang was kind of a wild card coming in although a lot of people attributed that to a racial thing and they may not have been wrong. They may not have been correct 100%, but they may not have been totally wrong. ‘Cause it turns out that he did seem to have some attitude issues, but… [Pause] But, it seems pretty clear that Ho-Sang doesn’t wanna be there, they don’t seem to want him there, but they also don’t want to seem to give him up. So, I wonder… if it would worth it for the Islanders to give up a young asset like Ho-Sang for somebody more experienced… I don’t know who… But, you know, hey, it’s worth a…
JN: Well they aren’t… They would like to get rid of Andrew Ladd’s contract of five and a half million for the next three years…
RP: Well, I meant on the Kings who could…
JN: Right, right.
RP: What could the Kings trade or who that would be worth it for—
JN: The Islanders still need cap space. Ho-Sang isn’t counting against the cap. He’s not even… He’s not even on the training camp roster for the Islanders.
RP: I know. It’s [chuckles dryly] it’s really a shame.
JN: I mean, the guy can play! He-he’s a... good distributor from the middle of the ice, he can do some things [exhales] I mean, he... He definitely does not play Lou Lamoriello or Barry Trotz hockey in his style…
JN: I mean he kinda reminds me a little bit more of a Jonathan Drouin or a um… [Pause] Somewhere between Drouin and Galchenyuk. [Laughs] I understand that’s a pretty big gap right now… Um… But, you know what I’m trying to get at. That guy who’s just kinda like a little bit… can be overly creative with his passing sometimes.
RP: Yeah, I think those are good comparisons I mean Drouin had the pedigree, but he didn’t really live up to it and Galchenyuk, he… He also had the pedigree but he seemed to kind of struggle…
JN: [long pause] Uhh… Yeah… [Pause] Just looking really quick, we have the Tampa Bay Lightning, Washington Capitals, St. Louis Blues, Edmonton Oilers, the Ducks, the Winnipeg Jets, the Vancouver Canucks, the Montreal Canadiens, Toronto Maple Leafs, and to no surprise, the Las Vegas Golden Knights over the salary cap as of this moment… Uh… Calgary, Dallas, Carolina, the Penguins, and the Avalanche are less than $2 million from the cap, so things are tight for a lot of teams right now. And the Kings have the second most cap room in the NHL, surpassed only by the New Jersey Devils, who, according to CapFriendly, only have 17 skaters on their roster, so they could fill out a little bit more… And uhh… Get closer to the Kings’ number, but… Yeah, it’s uh… It’s fortuitous that the Kings’ org just happens to be rebuilding in a time when cap space is especially valuable.
RP: Well… It’s fortuitous ,but I mean, it’s also a notable pattern that literally all teams go through at some point.
JN: I mean, sure. But like, the New York Rangers went through a rebuild and their big thing for rebuilding was “we’re going to draft, we’re going to develop talent, and then as soon as any semblance of cap space, we’re signing our Artemi Panarin.”
I mean they’re one of the better teams and they have 4.8 million in cap space. Like… Yeah, they’re doing pretty good. And, you know, the Chicago Blackhawks kind of rebuilding but, of course, you have the Toews, Seabrook, Kane, and Keith contracts and they have 4.2 million in cap space. And… Oh, man. Poor Chicago. I didn’t think I’d say that too often about the Chicago Blackhawks but... I mean probably missing Kane for the start of the year, lots of guys—
RP: And Toews.
JN: I’m sorry, that’s who I meant. Toews. No Toews, no Seabrook, it looks like no Andrew Shaw… [Pause] Yeah… Yeah… [Laughs]
RP: I feel absolutely zero sympathy for them.
JN: Like, it looks like Matthias Janmark or Carl Soderberg will be their number one center on opening night.
RP: [simultaneously] Oh, it looks like Finland just scored. [Laughs at Chicago’s pain after the fact]
JN: And Kirby Dach got hurt before the World Juniors started.
RP: I mean, unfortunate for Kirby Dach, but again, I feel absolutely zero sympathy for the Blackhawks. [James laughs] I’m cold and heartless, I thought people knew this.
JN: Well, I-I mean… You’ve had good rants today, so yeah… [Robyn laughs] So… A thing I would like to bring up with the cap space, to just speculate wildly… [dramatic pause] Do the Jets finally make the Patrick Laine trade? [Robyn sighs loudly] He’s got 6.75 against the cap and then is a Restricted Free Agent next year—er, after this year. He... Is still only 22 years old, which I think for some people is shocking because it seems like he’s been in the league for a lot longer than four years.
RP: It really does feel like he’s probably in his 30s.
JN: Yeah. The Winnipeg Jets over the salary cap, their Restricted Free Agent Jack Roslovic has said, “trade me or sign me, I’m not showing up until either one of those things happen.” He still does not have a contract this year as a Restricted Free Agent… Um… Yeah… It would be very funny if the Jets have to trade Patrick Laine to appease Jack Roslovic… Seems like a very Jets thing to do… [laughs awkwardly]
RP: I mean, they gave Cheveldayoff an extension and all he does is keep PoMo around. Like, Jets fans are absolutely at their wits’ end.
JN: Yeahhh, yeah. And they need to get under the cap. And I was looking. I was like “Ooh, Mathieu Perreault, he could be kind of fun and interesting—oh, no trade clause, okay. Uhhh… Like… They just [sighs] You know they just traded for Paul Stastny… Mark Scheifele, Patrick Laine, Kyle Connor, Blake Wheeler, Nikolaj Ehlers… Not a lot of guys who it seems that they want to trade… You know, Adam Lowry, Andrew Copp, Mason Appleton… Those are young guys who I think they want to keep around… They’re not making a ton of money against the cap. They have Nate Thompson, who is just the goodest guy in hockey… I’m sure they’d love to keep him around as much as possible. And … [Pause, changes topic] Even after trading Stastny to the Jets, the Golden Knights are over the cap right now. Um… Right now, they’ve got 12 forwards, 7 D and two goalies, and… Oof… They are… They are tight against the cap, technically over it right now… Yeah, so… They have to hope they don’t have any injuries this year.
RP: Um… Supposedly they’re-they’re shopping Max Pacioretty.
JN: Yeah, who supposedly fired his agent when the draft day trade to the Kings didn’t go through… And then ended up getting traded to Vegas and that’s why the Kings signed Kovalchuk because that signing fell through. Brian Burke I think has said on SportsNet up in Canada a few times: Vegas is a great place to play for six months and then they’re sick of you and want to move on from you. [Robyn snickers] Pacioretty is wearing an “A” for them and he was captain of the Canadiens and last year had 32 goals and 34 assists for 66 points in 71 games.
RP: Yeah, I’m not entirely sure—outside of getting cap relief because they signed him to that monster contract—I don’t exactly understand what Vegas’ plan here is. You can’t really upgrade Pacioretty. 32 goals in 71 games. Like, okay. You think you’re going to get somebody better? 40 goals, for what, 60 games? Good luck!
JN: Okay… Say… Pacioretty is offered to Rob Blake. Who do you give up for Max Pacioretty?
RP: Uhhh… Drew Doughty.
JN: Oh… No… [Robyn laughs] That’s not happening…
RP: [laughing] I know.
JN: Because that’s four million more against the cap.
RP: Umm hold on a second, let me see, let me think… [Long pause] The Kings don’t really have anybody who can put up big numbers, has a small contract, and is actually a good player.
JN: Like… The only person—
RP: [interrupting] I mean, I think you have to go like top prospect of like… Anderson-Dolan.
RP: Like, that’s not happening.
RP: Quinton Byfield, maybe?
JN: What? No! No!
RP: In order to get… Well, no no no!
JN: I would trade Iafallo for Pacioretty… I mean...
RP: Well, of course.
JN: He could be serviceable…
RP: But what—this is what I’m saying is that Vegas would probably take is…
RP: Honestly, they’d probably demand both Anderson-Dolan and Byfield. They’re both prospects at this point. They’re not established players. Pacioretty is an established player, you know he can put up 30+ goals in a season. You know what you’re getting with Pacioretty. You technically don’t know what you’re getting with either Anderson-Dolan or Byfield yet. Not really.
JN: Yeah but trading the #2 pick after you just chose him before he’s played an NHL game… I don’t… Ahhh [sighs]. I don’t… Oh, you’ve given me heartburn. That hurts, [Robyn laughs] that hurts my soul so much, oh my gosh.
RP: I mean… I don’t think that… I think that both players are untouchable, on the untouchable list. But I think that if you want a Pacioretty, that’s what it’s gonna take. I don’t think that… You can throw in like your first round pick and Andreas Athanasiou and be like “okay, here you go.” [James laughs] Or a collection of leftovers with Andersson and maybe Dustin Brown, if you’re lucky, or whatever. Just like… [Pause] You know?
JN: I-I get it. I mean… To get Max Pacioretty, though… I mean, he’s 32 and he does—he has after this year, two more years left on his contract so you got him until he’s about 35 years old. But I mean, him playing on Kopitar’s left side... Could be pretty cool. Again, doubt that it happens, doesn’t seem very feasible…
JN: I just thought it was good podcast banter to bring up a hypothetical trade. But uh...
RP: No, it is good— Well, okay. Well, here’s the thing… I think you could swing a reasonable deal for Pacioretty because Vegas is so cap strapped.
RP: Because they are… How much over the cap are they? Hang on, I’m pulling it up right now.
JN: I mean… They’re about a million. Er… Half a million over the cap right now.
RP: Really? And they have um… [Pause] Nobody’s on LTIR… Let’s see... [Long pause] Honestly… They could probably just demote somebody. They could demote Brayden McNabb and they’d save money. They’re not going… [Pause] But, yeah, you’re right, Vegas absolutely has to hope and pray that nobody gets hurt.
RP: At least none of their-their “Big 5” of Stone, Pacioretty, Karlsson, Smith, and Marchessault… All, by the way, on… pretty… sizeable deals…
JN: Oh yeah.
RP: And um… All have no move… Or… Well, all of them except for Stone have modified No Trade Clauses. Stone has a full No Move Clause.
JN: Yeahhh… Yeah, yeah. And Alex Pietrangelo who just signed has a full No Move Clause and he’s signed at 8.8 a year for… a while…
JN: I don’t think Kelly McCrimmon wants to look bad after he just gave away Nate Schmidt for a third round pick, either.
RP: I mean, he could probably trade Alec Martinez for, like, a bag of pucks or something and retain 50% salary and call it a day.
JN: Yeah, bring him back to the Kings. I love it. Thank you. [Laughs]
RP: Yeah, we-we’ll give you like a third round pick—no, that’s kinda high—we’ll give you like a fifth round pick for Martinez back. And they have to retain half the salary.
JN: Oh my gosh… [Robyn chuckles] I bet they’d consider it at this point.
RP: They might… I don’t think Rob Blake would consider it. I mean… [Pause] I’m looking at the Kings’ defense and… [Long pause] It’s okay… None of it is like… Overwhelming… But…
JN: Yeah, and Todd McLellan today did say he expects Mikey Anderson to be on the-the roster for the start of the season as one of the seven defensemen, so…
RP: You know, why not? With Matt Roy and Kurtis MacDermid and Sean Walker and those four guys all rotating…
RP: I don’t see how it would hurt.
JN: And then you’re probably looking at Kale Clague as the seventh defenseman. [Pause] Maybe Mark Alt as a more veteran guy…
RP: I feel like… Mark Alt will probably start the year with the Kings… But, Kale Clague will be in the taxi squad.
JN: Here’s something that I’m looking at right now and it’s not Kings, but… I’m going to bring it up because i-it’s very peculiar… The defense for the Detroit Red Wings... I’ll read these off to you one-by-one... Marc Staal…
JN: Danny DeKeyser.
RP: [uncertainly] Okay…
JN: Patrick Nemeth…
JN: Troy Stecher.
JN: Jon Merrill.
RP: [uncertain again] Mmm…
JN: Alex Biega…
RP: [still uncertain, but louder] Mmmm…
JN: And then Filip Hronek, the prospect they have up with them. That is… a very odd group of defensemen that um…
RP: Well Marc Staal is… He’s still pretty good. Danny DeKeyser is… I mean, I’m not overwhelmed by him but I think he’s a pretty solid defenseman… Patrick Nemeth… That one’s a little… [Hesitant] I don’t quite know what to make of that. Troy Stecher, he’s not very good… Jon Merrill, I don’t really know anything about him… He’s 28…
JN: I’ve always liked him! I mean… His time with the Devils and the Knights, I thought he’s a guy who just gets overlooked because he’s not flashy at all…
JN: I-I think that’s what I’m trying to get to is… There is zero flash or excitement to that defensive group [laughs].
RP: [deadpan] You were expecting flash from the Red Wings? The worst team in the league…
JN: Yeah I know. But I-I just… That is a group that is um… [Long pause] Uh they don’t appear to be lighting anyone up with speed heading into this year and maybe it’s rude to pick on the Red Wings right now but you know what? They were too good for too long and I’m going to pick on them.
RP: [laughs] They deserve it.
JN: Thanks! [Long pause] Okay. I think I want to end this day with just… [Pause] I’m just going to read you some Kings players, you tell me if you think they will make the roster, they’ll be on the taxi squad, or they’ll be with the Ontario Reign. [Brief pause] Are you ready?
JN: Mike Amadio.
RP: Uhhh… Kings.
JN: Austin Wagner.
JN: Rasmus Kupari.
RP: Mmmm… [Long pause] Taxi squad.
JN: [surprised] Taxi squad? Okay. Akil Thomas.
RP: Um… [Pause] The AHL.
JN: Quinton Byfield.
RP: Um… [chuckles and pauses] He plays nowhere. He’s probably tax… [James laughs] Well ‘cause he can’t play with the Kings ‘cause he has to play nine games, so… He’ll probably stay with the taxi squad but I don’t foresee him actually making the team this year. Um…
RP: So I think he’ll just stay with the taxi squad but, like, sort of unofficially.
JN: I’m with you 100%. Uh Tyler Madden.
RP: He’s in the AHL, he starts with Ontario.
JN: Okay. Um… Lias Andersson.
RP: Mmmm [sighs]. Lias Andersson… Let’s see… He’s a forward, 22… Um… Ontario.
JN: Sean Durzi.
RP: Mmmm [sighs] Ontario.
JN: Okay, Mark Alt.
RP: [sighs] I don’t know exactly what Todd McLellan will do. He’s surprised me the last couple of years where… the things I thought were gonna happen, he’s like “Mmm, nah, let’s give the kids a chance.” So, I’m going to say that Mark Alt ends up with the taxi squad. Or starts with the taxi squad I should say.
JN: Okay. Alex Turcotte.
RP: Ummm [sighs]. I’m gonna say that he goes to Ontario.
JN: Alright, I’m gonna finish this off with a real toughie, okay? You ready?
JN: Tobias Björnfot.
RP: [inhales] Oh that one is tough, oooh… [Pause] I’m gonna say that he starts with Ontario.
JN: Okay. Wow.
RP: Okay, now… Where do you think Grundström starts?
JN: Grundström… [Pause] Ah, man. [Pause] I think he’s a healthy scratch on the roster to start the season.
RP: Okay. Matt Luff.
JN: The other healthy scratch for the forward group.
RP: Okay and Mikey Eyssimont.
RP: You think he gets a shot at all with the Kings this year? I… Kinda don’t…
JN: I… I don’t know… Uh, maybe if there’s some injuries, maybe he gets moved up in taxi squad, maybe gets a game or two… I don’t it’s outside of the realm possibility that he-he gets an NHL game under his belt this year, but I’m not anticipating it.
RP: Fair enough.
JN: Yeah. And for you all Kings fans who didn’t see, J.F. Berube signed an AHL contract with the Ontario Reign, so he is back.
RP: Yes, he is back!
JN: Rubes, a favorite of so many people in the Kings organization… It’s going to be good to have him back around and maybe another Darcy Kuemper/Jack Campbell type of career arc for him because he still… He can play, I think. And I’m excited to see what could potentially happen for him in his career still.
RP: Before we end this, I kind of want to pick your brain about what you think is gonna happen with Ontario. Cal Petersen got the recall permanently so he’s going to start with the NHL team. That leaves Troy Groesnick and Matt Villalta and they just signed Berube.
JN: I think Groesnick is gonna be a taxi squad goalie because you have to have one goalie on the taxi squad.
JN: And I think [pause] it’s Villalta and Berube for the Reign and I think Ingham goes back to the Swamp Rabbits after training camp.
RP: Yeah, I don’t think Ingham is going to go to Ontario this year.
JN: I mean if there’s an injury, I-I think he-he-he goes… But um, yeah… I think Groesnick is-is, for all intents and purposes, the taxi squad goalie for the Kings.
RP: I’m very curious to see what’s going to happen with Villalta’s development. He’s only 21. He’s still very much a-a little, tiny baby.
JN: A very tall little, tiny baby.
RP: [laughs] Yeah, he is um 6’2 but he’s very skinny. If you’ve ever seen him in person, he… He looks like Mike Teevee [James laughs] from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.
JN: Yeah, yes he is listed at 6 foot 2 and 170 pounds. The man is a beanpole.
RP: [laughing] He is. He’s so skinny. Very much like Cal Petersen. Like, Cal Petersen is not quite that tall but Cal Petersen is very slender. Like, if you ever see him in person, you’re like…
RP: Yeah! [Pause] Some of these goalies, they’re like all limb.
RP: [laughing] That is 100% Matt Villalta. Like, if you ever look at Matt Villalta, you’re like “Where’s the rest of you? How are you a professional athlete?”
JN: Yeah… I mean, he got into 22 games last year with Ontario.
RP: Oh. Yeah. He was phenomenal for Ontario, especially after Cal Petersen went up.
JN: A little bit up and down. He had a 3.27 goals against and an .899 save percentage, so just a hair under .900, which, in all honesty, jumping from playing 51 games from the year before for the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds, I think that’s kind of expected, where I would expect him to be and I would hope he takes a jump a little bit this upcoming year.
RP: To be fair, his numbers aren’t entirely reflective of him. Uh… The Ontario defense last year was really—and I mean like the team defense—and it was, it was a little bit of a sticking point with Mike Stothers because they were allowing 30+ shots on goal every night. And I’m like, [laughing a bit] “Are you… Are you trying to kill your goalies?” It got better…
JN: [chuckling] It got a lot of reps for Cal Petersen.
RP: It did. [laughing] But I think that helped Cal Petersen because the Kings were just as bad. [laughs] I think the Kings were… So I think it was, the Reign were averaging like 34 shots on goal—or allowing an average of 34 shots on goal every night and Cal Petersen was playing a lot of back-to-back games, which is kind of insane. [Pause] Okay, so now you’re seeing 70, 80 shots in a weekend and that’s on top of what you do at practice and morning skate and everything like that… [Pause] And then the Kings, I think, were allowing like… between 28 and 30. Both teams got better towards the end of the season.
JN: Yes, definitely.
RP: Ontario made huge leaps and bounds from where they were in January and Mike Stothers was quite proud of his team. [Pause] So both teams really showed huge improvements after the New Year in January.
JN: Yeah, no, and I do want to talk about John Wroblewski [pronouncing phonetically], I think is how you say it, who will be the head coach for the Ontario Reign this year. But I think we should save that for next time because this has been an ADD episode with many conversations and… thank you, listener, for sticking with us… and for… for taking part in just our inane rantings and… you’re the best.
RP: [laughs] You are the best, listener, thank you. [Pause] Uhhh anything else that you want to touch on with this specific podcast?
JN: [exhales] Not today. Again, just to quickly recap: Lake Tahoe is a bad decision for the NHL to host an outdoor game [Robyn laughs]; Kings have a lot of players who are playing well at World Juniors; World Juniors is fun; Aatu Jamsen is doing well; and the Kings roster is going to... It’s going to be interesting to see how it shakes up out of the training camp and into the start of the regular season.
RP: Yep, I think that about sums it up.
JN: So… Robyn, thank you for taking the time to talk with me today. Thank you, listener, for listening. And thank you SBNation for always being the coolest. Until next time on Crown Conversations, I’m your co-host, James Nicholson and that’s Robyn P.