You never know with Kings coach Darryl Sutter, who might change his mind at the last minute, but the lineup for Friday’s game against the Colorado Avalanche in Denver could look a little something like this:
Goaltenders: Martin Jones, Ben Scrivens, J.F. Berube.
Forwards: Andy Andreoff, Marc-Andre Cliche, Kyle Clifford, Colin Fraser, Dwight King, Brandon Kozun, Jordan Nolan, Tanner Pearson, Nick Shore, Tyler Toffoli, Linden Vey, Justin Williams.
Defenseman: Andrew Bodnarchuk, Keaton Ellerby, Alec Martinez, Colin Miller, Willie Mitchell, Jake Muzzin, Jeff Schultz, Slava Voynov.
Tyler Toffoli played a good deal last season with Tanner Pearson and Linden Vey while they were with the Manchester (N.H.) Monarchs of the American Hockey League. They were broken up only after Toffoli was summoned to Los Angeles to join the Kings.
What to watch as the Kings began training camp Thursday:
Is there any room for a rookie to make his mark? It doesn’t appear coach Darryl Sutter has any job openings available as camp opens, but that doesn’t mean youngsters like Tyler Toffoli, Linden Vey and Tanner Pearson can’t make a lasting impression this month. Toffoli, in particular, could secure a spot if Sutter and the organization decide to have the forward shift from the right wing to the left. The Kings didn’t have depth on the left side and then lost Dustin Penner to the Ducks in free agency. Toffoli, who is listed on the roster as a center, played the right side when he was called up from the minors last season. He had two goals and five points in 10 regular-season games, showing a knack for being in the right spot at the right time. Will it happen for him and the others during camp? Stay tuned.
The Kings will host their annual off-season development camp next week at their training facility in El Segundo. Their press release didn’t have exact dates or times of the workouts, but they did invite reporters to attend Wednesday’s session and to interview players at approximately 4:30 p.m. No word on whether the sessions are open to the public.
Here’s the list of invited players, which includes several recognizable names:
Andy Andreoff – third round (80th overall) in 2011
Justin Auger – fourth round (103rd overall) in 2013
Jonny Brodzinski – fifth round (148th overall) in 2013
Nic Dowd – seventh round (198th overall) in 2009
Tomas Hyka – sixth round (171st overall) in 2012
Maxim Kitsyn – sixth round (158th overall) in 2010
Dominik Kubalik – seventh round (191st overall) in 2013
Joel Lowry – fifth round (140th overall) in 2011
Cameron Maclise – camp invitee
Michael Mersch – fourth round (110th overall) in 2011
Brian O’Neill – signed as a free agent March 15, 2012
Tanner Pearson – first round (30th overall) in 2012
Scott Sabourin – camp invitee
Nick Shore – third round (82nd overall) in 2011
Tyler Toffoli – second round (47th overall) in 2010
Jordan Weal – third round (70th overall) in 2010
Valentine Zykov – second round (37th overall) in 2013
Nick Ebert – seventh round (211th overall) in 2012
Derek Forbort – first round (15th overall) in 2010
Kevin Gravel – fifth round (148th overall) in 2010
Paul LaDue – sixth round (181st overall) in 2012
Zachary Leslie – sixth round (178th overall) in 2013
Kurtis MacDermid – signed as a free agent Sept. 12, 2012
Colin Miller – fifth round (151st overall) in 2012
Alex Roach – signed as a free agent Sept. 26, 2011
Patrik Bartosak – fifth round (146th overall) in 2013
Jean-Francois Berube – fourth round (95th overall) in 2009
Alex Fotinos – camp invitee
Matthias Niederberger – camp invitee
The Kings don’t have a first-round pick in Sunday’s NHL Entry Draft, having sent the selection to the Columbus Blue Jackets to complete the trade for Jeff Carter on Feb. 23, 2012. The Kings’ highest pick Sunday will be late in the second round (57th overall). Their history of second-round picks was pretty shabby in their early days. Dean Kennedy (1981), anyone? But it has picked up considerably in recent years.
Here’s a look at some of the Kings’ better second-round selections in the 2000s:
Here’s the second installment of Kings coach Darryl Sutter’s post-season meeting with reporters, two days after the team was eliminated from the Western Conference finals by the Chicago Blackhawks:
Question: It seems this was a tougher coaching job for you this year because you didn’t have the consistency of the lineup, you started out without Willie Mitchell and Matt Greene …
Answer: “I think if we go down the league, every coach will say that through a 48-game schedule. It’s something I’ve done before, so you have some familiarity with it. Whether it helps or not, I don’t know. But at least you’re familiar with it. Was it tougher? Sure, it was tougher, because … Our players were awesome. There was no hangover. There was only positives taken from it. Obviously, the only negative from a short summer last year was the guys didn’t start the year. Greene, Mitchell, (Anze) Kopitar and, quite honestly, Jonathan (Quick) until probably January or February.”
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.
Tyler Toffoli knows all about the increased speed and sense of urgency that comes with climbing the ladder as a professional hockey player. After all, he’s climbed it at a great speed and with a keen sense of urgency. The Kings’ right wing scored 100 points (52 goals, 48 assists) in 65 games with the junior-level Ottawa 67s in 2011-12. Then he scored 51 points (28 goals, 23 assists) in 58 games with the Manchester (N.H.) Monarchs of the American Hockey League in 2012-13 and was named the Rookie of the Year. He also scored five points (two goals, three assists) in 10 games with the Kings.
Here’s more from right wing Justin Williams’ session with reporters Monday. He was asked about the play of 21-year-old rookie Tyler Toffoli: “I think Tyler’s going to be a phenomenal NHL player for a long time. He’s had some big games for us when he’s been called upon to play. He’s always been ready. That’s what you need to do as a young player. When you’re called upon, show up. He’s done that and gave us a little bit of life yesterday. I don’t know what the line would be, but we’re certainly going to need his play.”
Looking back before looking ahead to the Western Conference finals …
Dustin Brown scored the winning goal and Jonathan Quick made 21 saves in a game that proved the Kings could skate with the speedy Blackhawks after all. Anze Kopitar, Jarret Stoll, Dwight King and rookie Tyler Toffoli also scored for the Kings, who improved their record to 18-12-2. Kopitar’s goal was noteworthy because it was his last of the regular season. He did not score in the final 16 regular-season games and has only two goals in 13 playoff games, a fact that has raised eyebrows among plenty of press box observers.