Another day, another move by Kings general manager Dean Lombardi to secure the franchise’s future. Lombardi re-signed minor-league forward Brandon Kozun to a one-season contract Wednesday, one day after coming to terms with defenseman Slava Voynov on a six-year extension worth $25 million. Kozun and Voynov are each 23.
General manager Dean Lombardi said last week he hoped to bring back the Kings’ lineup intact for another long Stanley Cup playoff run. He took a significant step in realizing that goal when he and defenseman Slava Voynov agreed to a six-season contract extension. Lombardi signed defenseman Robyn Regehr to a two-year extension during the playoffs, keeping him off the market when free agency opens early next month.
Kings defenseman Jake Muzzin didn’t have a chance to break into the lineup slowly. He was tossed in there because of injuries and, in time, it was clear that he belonged. He said he learned a great deal from the Kings’ veteran group of defensemen, including Matt Greene. Muzzin took Greene’s spot in the lineup for the better part of the regular season, and Greene acted as a mentor while recovering from back surgery. Said Muzzin:
Kings rookie defenseman Jake Muzzin would have played the season with the Manchester (N.H.) Monarchs of the American Hockey League if not for prolonged injuries to Matt Greene and Willie Mitchell. Greene missed all but a handful of games because of back surgery and Mitchell never played a shift after undergoing offseason knee surgery. Muzzin filled a glaring void and kept the Kings on track for a second consecutive Western Conference finals trip. Muzzin grew into the role and wouldn’t be knocked out of the lineup even after the acquisition of Robyn Regehr and Greene’s return from surgery.
Rob Scuderi is eligible to become an unrestricted free agent early next month, and the Kings’ veteran defenseman could go that route if he decides it’s best for him and his family. Scuderi talked last week about finding a comfort zone with the Kings over the last four seasons. He also said when asked about his future with the team:
Kings defenseman Rob Scuderi was as baffled by the Kings’ lack of road success, especially during the playoffs, as anyone else. It was perhaps the main reason the Kings were eliminated from the conference finals in five games by the Chicago Blackhawks. The Kings lost all three games they played in Chicago and dropped eight of nine on the road overall in the postseason. Last year, they were 10-1 on the road during the playoffs.
Drew Doughty of the Kings, whose role was expanded greatly during the lockout-shortened 2012-13 season, finished ninth in voting for the Norris Trophy as the NHL’s top defenseman. P.K. Subban of the Montreal Canadiens was the winner, with Ryan Suter of the Minnesota Wild second and Kris Letang of the Pittsburgh Penguins third. Doughty played in all manner of roles this past season and teamed with Robyn Regehr to form the Kings’ shutdown pair for the stretch run of the regular season and the playoffs.
Kings captain Dustin Brown was a finalist for the Mark Messier Leadership Award won by Daniel Alfredsson of the Ottawa Senators. Jonathan Toews of the Chicago Blackhawks also was a finalist for the award, which goes to “the player who exemplifies great leadership qualities to his team, on and off the ice during the regular season.” Messier solicits fans and team and league personnel to compile a list of candidates and then makes the final selection himself. In addition to being the Senators’ captain for the last 10 seasons, Alfredsson also has worked with the Boys and Girls Clubs of Ottawa.
Kings center Anze Kopitar finished fourth in voting for the Frank J. Selke Trophy as the NHL’s top defensive forward. Jonathan Toews of the Chicago Blackhawks, Patrice Bergeron of the Boston Bruins and Pavel Datsyuk of the Detroit Red Wings finished ahead of Kopitar. The Kings’ leading scorer for the sixth consecutive season, Kopitar recorded 42 points in 47 games (10 goals, 32 assists) during the lockout-shortened regular season.
So, what’s next for Kings right wing Tyler Toffoli? Kings coach Darryl Sutter would like the 21-year-old to gain strength and stamina before training camp begins in September. Sutter might also consider switching Toffoli from the right wing to the left in order to make that side of the ice a little stronger than it’s been the last two seasons. Dustin Brown is the Kings’ top left wing, but the production on that side drops off considerably. Toffoli could fill the void, if the Kings decide to go in that direction.