Kings focus on retooling roster in offseason
JUN 10, 2013 9:38p ET
EL SEGUNDO, Calif. — It always stings when a season comes to an end. But Kings coach Darryl Sutter may have put it best when he addressed his team the day after being eliminated from the playoffs.
“It would have been harder not making the playoffs, right? I told the players yesterday we played 18 games in the playoffs this year," Sutter said. "There’s (27) other teams that wished they played 18 games.
"Once you set that bar in terms of, as I’ve said all along, this really has no bearing on anything other than you’re a really good hockey club and you know how close the league is. All you have to do is look at the team we just played and the team that they’re playing. How close the league is."
While the Los Angeles Kings and their players won’t use injuries as an excuse for falling short in the playoffs, there is no denying the fact that injuries played a significant role in the team not being able to advance past Chicago in the conference finals and a berth in the Stanley Cup Final.
“Being able to grind through injuries here and there, with Stoll and Richards, and guys playing hurt and being injured,” said Dustin Brown. “I don’t think that’s anything special this time of year, every team is dealing with it. It’s the teams that find a way to get the job done regardless of the situation that probably makes me more proud to be a part of this team in the fashion with which we deal with it.
"I don’t think we complain very much, we just go about business as normal regardless of the situation, which is probably one of the more important things with the team identity,” Brown added.
While the concussion that Mike Richards received in Game 1 of the conference finals that forced him to miss Game 2-4 was no secret, injuries to Brown (knee), Justin Williams (shoulder) and Robyn Regehr (elbow) were all kept classified.
While Brown’s injury won’t require surgery, the injury could have kept him out of the lineup for an extended period of time if this was the regular season.
The biggest surprise came with the announcement by Sutter that defenseman Regehr will be having surgery, later specified as elbow surgery.
With players wrapping up their exit meetings with the coaching staff and front office, general manager Lombardi must now focus on retooling the roster for next season.
At the top of the list will be negotiating a new contract with defenseman Slava Voynov. Voynov, who is slated to be a restricted free-agent July 5, is coming off an outstanding postseason with a franchise-high six playoff goals, including four game-winners
Look for Voynov, who was making just under $800K per season, to seek a contract in excess of $4 million per year.
The other big issue on the blueline is whether the team can afford veteran Rob Scuderi. While the Kings would like to keep Scuderi at a salary similar to the two-year, $6 million deal they gave Regehr, he will likely be offered more money from teams like his hometown Islanders.
The Kings have been a team that has been built from the goaltender on out. It may be time for Dean Lombardi to find some additional help to boost an offense that scored an average of just over two goals a game in the playoffs, the fewest among any teams that made it past the first round.
That number was even smaller if you take into account just their road games where the Kings scored 14 goals in their nine games away from Staples Center.
At 24, Bernier deserves the opportunity to be a No. 1 goalie. Look for him to be moved sometime around the NHL Draft. There had been rumors of a Bernier deal to Philadelphia earlier in the year for Matt Read. Look for those talks to resume shortly.
One thing Kings fans won’t have to guess on whether this team is ready to make another run to the Stanley Cup Final. With a solid core that includes Quick, Kopitar and Doughty the Kings are poised for many runs at Lord Stanley’s Cup.