Simmonds steps up

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Who led the Kings in preseason goal scoring? Wayne Simmonds, with five, and as of last night, that was tied for the NHL lead as well. If I had to come up with a top three of most impressive players from the preseason games, it would probably be (in no particular order), Simmonds, Jack Johnson and Ryan Smyth.

It’s hard to know what, exactly, to make of this Kings third line. There’s Michal Handzus, a 20-goal threat; Alexander Frolov, the Kings’ leading goal scorer last season; and Simmonds, who scored only nine goals last season but would seem to have 20-goal potential. It’s not a stretch to think that line could be a 75-goal line for the Kings, although things would have to break perfectly for them.

On the other hand, that line’s first responsibility is on the defensive end, and Frolov and Simmonds, in particular, handled that responsibility well last season. It should be interesting to see how this line develops, particularly if the Purcell-Stoll-Brown line struggles to put goals on the board.

Here’s what Terry Murray said about Simmonds’ preseason/camp:

MURRAY: “Simmonds played, right through the camp, very well. He was one of our better players at the end of (last) year, and he seemed to come in with that same attitude and played well in all situations. One of our top goal scorers at the end of the training camp, and he’s going to be an important player for us.”

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  • wavesinair

    The sky’s the limit for this guy. If he continues to make the kind of strides he’s been making, he will be a dominate force in this league. All this for a 2nd rounder. Perhaps DL’s best pick considering his position?

    On another note, in case you haven’t noticed, Frolov is poised to be in the top 10 goal scorers in Kings history this year by passing none other than Rob Blake at #10. Fro has 149 to Blake’s 161.

    I haven’t heard anyone mention it, but Fro’s “goal” this year (no pun intended) SHOULD BE to take over the #9 position. Who’s at #9? Yep, it’s Jim Fox with 186.

    Fro would need 38 goals, 3 more than his career best. I wonder if he knows this, especially in a contract year (he must, right?). As a side note, he will be the only non-canadian player to be in the top 10 in this category assuming he achieves this mark. Also, if Fro sticks around, he will likely pass Gretzky within 3 years.

  • http://Ethman Ethman

    From all the reports I’ve been hearing about the preseason games Simmonds sounds like he’s been playing his butt off. It is only the preseason, but hopefully he’ll keep this up! And yes Rich, I’m not sure how TM will handle this 3rd line. They look like they could be more of an offensive threat than the 2nd line. This offensively gifted 3rd line could be a good thing… if they keep the puck in the opposition’s zone while the opposition’s top line is on the ice that could do wonders for the team’s goals against this season.

  • Moose

    I haven’t heard anyone mention this, but I’m thinking that the play of Simmonds and his chemistry with Fro is going to force DL to come back to the negotiating table sooner rather than later. If DL trades Fro, I expect this to impact Simmonds’ offensive production. I’m really hoping that line gets off to a quick start so it makes potential trade talk harder on DL.

    On another note, ESPN is projecting the Kings as a 7th seed in their first power rankings.

    http://sports.espn.go.com/nhl/powerranking

  • Buck

    I liked Simmonds from moment one. We need more players like him in terms of consistency, attitude, hustle and willingness to drop the gloves.

  • nykingfan

    I also thought Simmonds was the best forward down the stretch for the Kings. He’s quickly become my favorite player out there because of his non stop hustle and smart, feisty play.
    I don’t think it’s a stretch at all to think the Zeus/Simmonds/Fro line could outscore the Brown/Stoll/Purcell line.
    Most scoring chances begin with a defensive play first…turnover, etc…I think the checking line will get a bunch of scoring chances this year just like they did last season. The only difference will be Simmonds burying those chances he missed last year.
    Of course as we all know, how often do lines stay together throughout the season?

  • mrbrett7

    I said last year that I would eat my shorts if Simmonds became a 20 goal scorer.

    I still stand by that comment, BUT…if anyone has some salt and butter to pass my way, I may need it.

  • Dan H.

    That third line is going to be interesting. I think they have the potential to easily outscore the second line but their main concern is defense first.

    Rich…Handzus was the best defensive forward the Kings had last year so I don’t know why he was left off of your comparison with the two guys. He wins faceoffs, blocks shots the old fashioned way, plays on the PK a ton, and takes hits to get the puck out. He was fantastic last year.

    Simmonds is a great player for that line. I’m not sold on the concept as some are that he’s the second coming of Gretzky in the scoring department but he has 20 goal potential for sure.

    I’m really looking forward to this season!

  • JDM

    In a few years, Simmonds will be better than Hartnell ever hoped to be.

  • variable

    i need to get his jersey…

    he’s becoming my favorite king…(!)

  • Ersberg

    And again, that’s why Simmonds should be tested as a top-six forward.

    What does it take to be a top goal-scorer in the league, other than skill? Determination. Simmonds has more determination than..quote me on this..ANY other player on our roster. Period.

    It would be a waste if he never got a shot to prove otherwise.

    9 goals in a limited, bottom-six role last season as a rookie, tells me he has what it takes to take it to the next level.

  • Timoteo

    Mrbrett7, that’s a pretty bold statement. Why so sure that Simmonds won’t become a 20 goal scorer? Admittedly his history is not that of a big scorer, but that history is pretty much only in the OHL. He scored 9 goals last year skating on a lot of different lines as a very young player. He showed lots of grit and hustle and the occasional nice move. He averaged under 14 minutes of ice time last year. With some chemistry, another year of growth and experience and consistent ice time with Zeus and Fro it doesn’t seem a stretch to say he has a good chance of being a 20 goal guy.

  • philbert

    Wayne Simmonds could very well be the 21st century version of Butch Goring

  • Bickle Wigglesworth III

    Sometimes when I watch Simmonds I see a taller, less fiery Mike Richards. It’s probably too much to expect from the kid but he has that same sort of smart industrious way about him. Still though, Simmonds should be expected to put 20+ goals, solid defense, and strong leadership this season and for many many more to come.

  • BakoCAcameraGuy

    Don’t hate to say it…

    I told you so!
    :)

  • Some fan

    Randy Jones has been placed on waivers by the Philadelphia Flyers.

    I wonder if Terry Murray wants Lombardi to put a claim in for him given their Philly connection.

    That would not bode well for Hickey or Martinez making the team.

  • BluLine77

    Simmonds is just a guy you can’t help but root for. He’s definitely a throwback kind of player, one of those guys who could thrive in any era. He’s smart, witty and thoughtful in interviews, poised, confident and doesn’t take sh!t from anyone on the ice. As you watch him grow in confidence with the puck it’s hard not to think of him as a guy with 20-30 goal potential. To see both he and Doughty display the amount of poise and patience with the puck when under pressure last season as rookies was amazing. The scoring will come for both these guys. Simmonds won me over two years ago with that end to end rush he made in training camp that brought the whole crowd to it’s feet. This dude is a gamer. I’d already have his jersey if it wasn’t for the fact that every player who’s jersey I get immediately gets traded or leaves (Luc. . .TWICE!). I NEVER want to see Simmer in another teams gear.

  • Chris Bond
  • mrbrett7

    Timoteo…

    My opinion…is 6 more minutes per night going to net him 11 more goals in a year? Possibly.

    Is playing with a better playmaker at center going to net him 11 more goals in a year? Possibly.

    The problem is he doesn’t really have a finish. Someone just compared him to Scotty Hartnell…not a bad comparison (and I won’t complain one bit if that is how he turns out).

    His hands, to me, just don’t scream a consistent 20 goal scorer.

    Someone who can score 10-15 goals with 20-25 assists…sure, I can most certainly deal with that. That is an IDEAL 3rd line forward, especially when you consider how good he already is defensively.

    Far too often I think we as fans try to make players into something they simply are not.

    But…I have no problem being wrong on this one either…I love the kid.

  • wavesinair

    good stuff brett. well said.

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