Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Welcome To L.A. Willie!

After attending the Kings Development Camp in July; I became worried. The Kings lost Sean O’Donnell to free agency and had yet to sign a defenseman. Jake Muzzin wasn’t ready. Thomas Hickey wasn’t ready. Colten Teubert was hurt. Viatcheslav Voynov was missing and now threatening a move to Russia. Then the news broke that Matt Greene was going under the knife, all of a sudden, leaving two gaping holes to fill on the Kings blueline.

I began searching the list of remaining free-agents for bargains (or scraps). Two names jumped out at me: Ruslan Salei and Mike Weaver. Salei has been steady his entire career up to last season when he battled back injuries last season. Mike Weaver left Los Angeles as a fringe NHL defenseman and has slowly developed into a solid reliable bottom-pairing defenseman for Vancouver and St. Louis. Both were snatched up within the week.

Willie Mitchell was the only remaining player on my Free Agent Shopping List. But I figured he was a longshot to sign in Los Angeles. Well, because quite frankly, every top free-agent seems to be a long shot for the Kings.

I began asking the question that I never thought I’d ever ask: Who is going to replace Sean O’Donnell?

Monday, August 23, 2010

Jersey Pickup: Trevor Lewis Game Worn Manchester Monarchs

My First Monarchs Gamer!

I've wanted a Manchester Monarchs Authentic Edge jersey for a couple seasons now.  The authentic version sells online for $280 and sometimes you can get them on sale for $165 from the team store.

I've watched for game worn jersey auctions only to see the prices sky rocket to ridiculous amounts.  I also spend alot of time on eBAY looking for any deals.  And finally my search paid off!  

I had been hoping to get my Kings jerseys lettered with Kovalchuk #71 or Kariya #9 this summer but since both look like a longshot; those funds were allocated to this purchase: A game worn Trevor Lewis Manchester Monarchs jersey.

Last season was a wash for him after he suffered a serious shoulder injury that knocked him out for the majority of the season.  But he recovered in time for the postseason and was one of Manchester's best players.  He was third on the team in scoring with 9 points in 16 games and led the team with 52 shots.  At 23, he still has alot of upside.  Lewis could be the Kings third-line center next season with Handzus's contract expiring at the end of the season.

Here's some basics on the jersey:
- Size 56
- Edge 2.0
- Everything sewn directly to jersey; LEWIS on matching nameplate
- Assistant Captain 'A' glued on
- Multiple holes and stick marks on the sleeves and body

The seller was unsure if the jersey was worn during the 2008-09 or 2009-10 season.  After checking box scores and photos; I've come to the conclusion that this was Lewis's last jersey for the 2009-10 season because of the assistant captain 'A.'  I can't find any box scores or photos that designate Lewis as an assistant captain except for the 2009-10 Calder Cup Eastern Conference Finals Game Six; where Lewis wore the 'A' as a replacement for the injured Marc-Andre Cliche.

Here's a couple of game photos off

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Poni-Kopi-Willie: Best Line In Hockey?

Since the Kings haven't done much of anything this offseason; I'm forced to over-analyze the one player Dean Lombardi did acquire.  While searching for 'Alexei Ponikarovsky' I stumbled across this Puck Prospectus article.  Puck Prospectus thinks very highly of Poni and they've got some obscure statistical analysis to back it up.  

CORSI number is the relatively new statistic being discussed in-depth by hockey geeks.  It was actually derived by long-time Buffalo Sabres goaltending coach Jim Corsi.
Corsi is a plus/minus stat that measures shots directed at net. For example, if the Edmonton Oilers direct 30 shots at even strength at the Calgary Flames' net in a game, while the Flames direct 45 shots at the Oilers' net, the Oilers have a Corsi of -15 for the game.
This team Corsi number is also broken down and applied to individual players. For example, if Sheldon Souray is out on the ice for 10 shots directed at the Flames' net, while the Flames direct 15 shots at the Oilers' net while Souray is on the ice, he's said to have a Corsi plus/minus of -5.
So now that we all have a general understanding of CORSI.  Let's take a look at Ponikarovsky.  His CORSI number last season was 18.99; good for seventh in the league (50+ games).
...if the LA coaching staff is in any way of the Corsi-persuasion, they will pair Ponikarovsky with Anze Kopitar (8.94) and Justin Williams (16.78) to create a line capable of uber-possession.
Based on last year’s Corsi value, the Kings new line could rank 5th in the league on combined Corsi, and even better considering that Andrew Ladd is now with the Atlanta Thrashers.
The Blackhawks top two-lines of Hossa-Ladd-Sharp and Toews-Kane-Brouwer were among the leaders.  As well as Detroit's Holmstrom/Franzen/Datsyuk and Washington's Ovechkin-Backstrom-Semin.  Now, no one is going to confuse Ponikarovsky-Kopitar-Williams with any of those lines but the statistic IS intriguing. It ultimately means that if Terry Murray decides to flank Kopitar with Poni & Williams his wings; Kings fans can expect alot of puck possession and shots on target.
Ponikarovsky’s career shooting percentage is a respectable 11.4%, while Williams (9.4%) and Kopitar (12.7%) are above average as well.
Hypothetically speaking the puck possession and shots should lead to more scoring chances which should ultimately lead to more goals.  This statistic obviously doesn't take into account Justin Williams's fragile body and inability to stay healthy.  But in a world where the CORSI number statistic rules: A Ponikarovsky-Kopitar-Williams line is among the best in the NHL.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Weird Looking...

I know I'm kind of late but the photo was so disturbing; it deserved it's own blog post.

Modano, the all-time leader among U.S.-born players in points and goals scored will wear jersey #90 for obvious reasons (Gordie Howe).  Modano will always be a Minnesota North Star/Dallas Star just like Ray Bourque will always be a Boston Bruin.  Bourque chased his Cup; Modano already got his so I guess he' just chasing the dream of playing one more NHL season back home in front of family & friends in his home state of Michigan.

One Dream Crushed...Another Lives On...Sorta

Teemu Selanne will be back at least one more season with the Ducks and he's still trying to lure Kariya to Anaheim.  Kariya doesn't owe anything to those fans in the O.C but I think the thought of reuniting with Teemu intrigues him especially after their disappointing reunion in Colorado.  I think Kariya is a Duck by the end of the week.  I think both guys stay healthy and terrorize the Kings.  Both Kariya and Selanne have been Kings Killers their entire careers (check out the career numbers versus L.A.).

Kariya: 63 GP, 34G, 38A, 72 PTS, +13, 26 PPP, 5 GWG
Selanne: 86 GP, 47G, 57A, 104 PTS, +26, 40 PPP, 9 GWG

So the dream of having Kariya and Selanne reunite in Los Angeles is dead.  The dreams of Kariya finishing out his career in a Kings uni are most likely dead.  I'm clinging to Willie Mitchell right now.  The Selanne/Kariya story was a bigger deal to me than the arbitrator ruling in favor of the NHL in the Ilya Kovalchuk case but here's a quick take.

The 17-year $102 million contract that Ilya Kovalchuk signed with the New Jersey Devils pushed the envelope further than it had ever been pushed.  The contract was so heavily front-loaded that he would have made 97% of his total salary by Year 11 with six more years left on the deal.  The NHL had to draw the line.  It's really as simple as that.

I'm a little surprised so many seem so surprised at Bloch ruling on Kovalchuk. I just figured there was a chance for following reasons: Kovalchuk contract pushed envelope further than it had ever been pushed. 17 years? Unprecedented. Age 44. Unprecedented. 6 big dropoff years at end? Unprecedented. I'm no lawyer but if it was 15 yrs, age 42 and 4 dropoff years, it's a lot more defensible, IMO.
So Kovalchuk is currently an unrestricted free-agent again but all signs pointing to him returning to New Jersey and the Kings staying out of it.  Hopefully, Kovalchuk signs soon in NJ so the Kings can finally hold that Alexei Ponikarovsky press conference we've all been waiting for.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

My Dreams Crushed Again...

I've come to accept that the NHL doesn't have much of a case against Ilya Kovalchuk and the New Jersey Devils and will most likely lose their arbitration hearing.  Kovalchuk won't be a King.  Who could fill that void?  Paul Kariya!  Of course!  If you're reading my blog for the first time; you should read this post first to understand my loyalty to Paul Kariya.

Three players off my Free Agent Frenzy shopping list are still out there: Kariya, Teemu Selanne and Willie Mitchell.  I don't think we get any of them.  Dean Lombardi seems pretty content rolling out the same team we did last year minus Frolov, OD and Greene (for the first month).  The addition of Ponikarovsky will not drastically improve this team. 

Andy Strickland got my hopes up a couple weeks ago...
 Paul Kariya will play only if the fit is right....think west coast...Los Angeles Kings???
Anaheim is doing their due diligence behind the scenes on Paul Kariya...Appears a pretty good chance Kariya lands back with Ducks
Now this really kills me.  I always thought Kariya to the Kings was a longshot.  I figured he'd go to Pittsburgh or Detroit and try to pull a Robitaille or Blake and get his Cup.  But the Ducks???  The majority of Ducks fans hate his guts more than Kings fans for the way he left.  And I don't think anyone is considering Anaheim a Cup favorite.  Either way, I'm perplexed and confused.  I don't think it's a good fit but I'll support Kariya none the less.  It won't be the first time I've rolled into Staples Center with a Kariya Ducks jersey on...