Tuesday, June 22, 2010

2009-10 Season In Review: Wingers

Unlike their blueline and center positions; the Kings are missing that first-line franchise winger or blue-chip prospect. Their decision to move Michael Cammalleri was the right decision at the time but the Kings have been unable to find a consistent goal-scoring threat from the wing since his departure.

The Kings have a nice collection of second and third line talent on the wings. Dustin Brown and Wayne Simmonds are among the best young power forwards in the league. While veterans Ryan Smyth and Justin Williams were nice additions to their top six but injuries have become an issue for both over the past few seasons.

The Kings may let their most talented winger Alexander Frolov walk on July 1st, leaving another hole for the Kings to plug this off-season. Read the player profiles after the jump...

Dustin Brown
Projection: 81 GP, 34 G, 40 A, 74 PTS, 26 PPP, 60 PIM
2009-10 Stats: 82 GP, 24 G, 32 A, 56 PTS, 17 PPP, 41 PIM
A lot of Kings fans were disappointed with Brownie in 2009-10.  Not this Kings fan.  His numbers were in line with his career numbers.  Now after his 33-goal campaign in 2007-08; a lot of Kings fans were ready to anoint him the next Jarome Iginla.  He is what he is: a very good second line player that can put the puck in the net and will be among the league leaders in hits.

FINAL GRADE: B; Brownie’s not an elite first-line winger but he’s a very good hockey player.  Make no mistake about it.  If the Kings can acquire a top-line winger; hopefully Kings fans will let off of Brown and appreciate his his game: Skate Hard, Hit Hard, Score Goals.

Ryan Smyth
Projection: 76 GP, 29 G, 37 A, 66 PTS, 24 PPP, 52 PIM
2009-10 Stats: 67 GP, 22 G, 31 A, 53 PTS, 24 PPP, 42 PIM
Smitty has been one of my favorite hockey players for a long time. His willingness to sacrifice his body in front of the net to score goals and win the battles in the corners is something the Kings have greatly missed. His hockey-sense is off the charts and that's the main reason for his instant chemistry with Kopitar on the Kings first line. At 34, Smyth isn't that old but his style of play has taken a toll on his body. He hasn’t appeared in all 82 games since the 2003-04 season but make no mistake about it, this guys a winner.

FINAL GRADE: B+; I had a great appreciation for Smyth from watching him on TV but watching him live is even better. I’m not sure if it’s his tantalizing mullet flowing out from his helmet or his gritty style of play. He showed flashes of brilliance with Kopitar and Williams but it’s hard to rely on a Smyth to play a full season. He may be better suited on the Kings second-line going forward.

Alexander Frolov
Projection: 76 GP, 34 G, 34 A, 68 PTS, 23 PPP, 28 PIM
2009-10 Stats: 81 GP, 19 G, 32 A, 51 PTS, 13 PPP, 26 PIM
I think Kings fans expected a lot from Frolov considering he was in a contract year. My love for Frolov is well-documented. I love Frolov. His 19 goals this year, his lowest total since his rookie season certainly didn't help his case on the open market. At 27, Frolov should be entering his prime but his game remains the same. His skill set leaves you wanting more from him.

FINAL GRADE: C+; I think Frolov is gone. Or let’s just say I’m ‘not optimistic.’ I think the Kings have already decided that Frolov isn’t a Dean Lombardi and Terry Murray-type player. They’re making a huge mistake. His ability to control possession of the puck for an entire shift is something the Kings will be lacking. Fro has been the victim of his own talent and Terry Murray’s insistence on playing him in a checking-line role. If the rumors are true that Michael Cammalleri is pushing for the Habs to sign Frolov. Expect 30-40 goals and 70-75 points from Fro on his new team.

Wayne Simmonds
Projection: 82 GP, 13 G, 21 A, 34 PTS, 11 PPP, 87 PIM
2009-10 Stats: 78 GP, 16 G, 24 A, 40 PTS, 0 PPP, 116 PIM
No player has overachieved and continued to improve the way Simmer has over his first two NHL seasons. He’s earned everything he’s got with hard work and determination. He spent his entire rookie season on the third line and most of the 2009-10 season. But by the end of the regular season and into the posteason, Simmer earned himself a spot on the Kings first line. His grinding game is the perfect compliment to Kopitar’s finesse.

FINAL GRADE: A-; If Simmer can continue to develop at this pace, the sky is really the limit for him. Consistency is still his biggest issue but that’s something to be expected from a player of his age. He’ll still be slotted on the checking line with Handzus to start the season but wouldn’t be surprised to see him playing in the top six very soon. His value to the team trails only Kopitar and Doughty.

Justin Williams
Projection: 81 GP, 29 G, 39 A, 68 PTS, 20 PPP, 32 PIM
2009-10 Stats: 49 GP, 10 G, 19 A, 29 PTS, 7 PPP, 39 PIM
I just feel bad for Justin. Seriously. Many called him injury-prone after he missed 83 games over the past two seasons. He looked to be back to 100% during training camp and found instant chemistry with Kopitar and Smyth. J-Will scored 24 points in 33 games through December. Unfortunately, he suffered a broken leg in late-December. He fought hard to return in March but struggled to find his game down the stretch. His inconsistent play earned him a benching and healthy scratch for three of the postseason games.

FINAL GRADE: C+; Williams gave the Kings exactly what they expected for three months. J-Will’s still only 28 but with all these injuries piling up; his body has got to feel like he’s 38. Many of his injuries have been fluke ones but he slowly embracing the ‘injury-prone’ tag. I would love to see what Williams can do over an 82 game stretch. There’s no doubt he has another 30-goal season in him. The bigger question: will we even get 70 games out of Williams?

Fredrik Modin
Projection: N/A
2009-10 Stats: 20 GP, 3 G, 2 A, 5 PTS, 2 PPP, 14 PIM
FINAL GRADE: B; I liked Modin when we got him and I love him even more after his performance in the postseason. He did exactly what I expected. Brought some much-needed size up-front and a good shot. His health is obviously a huge concern going forward but if the Kings can get 70-75 games out of Modin next year playing with Handzus on the third-line; the Kings may have something special. I bring Modin back at the right price on a one-year deal; somewhere in the $2-$2.5 range.

Rich Clune
Projection: N/A
2009-10 Stats: 14 GP, 0 G, 2 A, 2 PTS, 0 PPP, 26 PIM
FINAL GRADE: C; 'The Clunatic' really didn't do much during his brief stint with the Kings. I was excited because I heard some Chris Neil comparisons. I may be a bit biased in my opinion because I'm still longing for the return of Lauri Tukonen. Either way, Clune didn't do much to help or hurt his NHL-stock. He's obviously an agitator that skates well and is willing to drop the gloves. Unfortunately, the highlight of his season will be chasing Rick Rypien, the Manny Pacquiao of the NHL, in Game Five and getting destroyed. Clune's still young and could be a serviceable fourth-line player for the Kings. Sign him to a similar cap hit and see how he develops.

Raitis Ivanans
Projection: 78 GP, 2 G, 3 A, 5 PTS, 0 PPP, 152 PIM
2009-10 Stats: 61 GP, 0 G, 0 A, 0 PTS, 0 PPP, 136 PIM
FINAL GRADE: F; I assigned this grade to Ivanans for not managing to log a single point in 61 games and for Terry Murray’s insistence on playing Ivanans. Statistics have indeed confirmed that Raitis Ivanans was the worst player in the NHL this season. How Ivanans managed to skate in 61 games this season is mind-boggling. He averaged 4:53 minutes of ice-time and about seven shifts a game; the only Kings player to average shifts in the single digits. There's simply no-room on an NHL roster for goons anymore. In closing, can you imagine if Ivanans put away that loose puck into the open net during the first period of Game One in Vancouver. Would have been a nice way to go out. See ya, Raitis. I won't miss you. Please don't hurt me.

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