Roster consistency has been a hallmark of the Dean Lombardi era. Players are developed over time to play a specific brand of hockey and then promoted when they're ready to ensure as smooth a transition as possible. With the trade deadline just two weeks away and Ontario stocked with players available to help, the Kings must take stock of their roster and make their final adjustments soon. With that in mind we take a look at how the 2016-17 LA Kings are constructed.
Despite losing 180 "man-games" to injury so far, the LA Kings have dressed only 28 players this season. Of those 28 players, 5 (Setoguchi, Ladue, Campbell, Gilbert, Purcell) are currently assigned in Ontario and 3 (Quick, Greene, Nolan) are currently listed on Injured Reserve. Of the 18 skaters that played for the Kings against the Florida Panthers last Thursday, 12 were with the Kings during the 2014 Cup run and 4 more were in Manchester.
Of the 15 forwards the Kings have dressed this season, 11 were drafted. Jeff Carter and Marian Gaborik were both acquired from the Columbus Blue Jackets via trades in 2012 and 2014 respectively. Teddy Purcell and Devin Setoguchi were both offseason Free Agent signings in 2016 and both have been subsequently assigned to Ontario.
On defense, only 4 of the 9 defensemen were acquired via the draft. The Kings invested heavily in veteran defenseman during their rebuilding efforts. Only now is the franchise beginning to rely on players like Derek Forbort, Kevin Gravel and Paul Ladue to fill the holes left by Willie Mitchell, Rob Scuderi and Robyn Regehr.
In net, the injury to Jonathan Quick and the temporary lack of goaltending depth throughout the franchise have forced the Kings to trust in free agency acquisitions Peter Budaj and Jeff Zatkoff and to trade for Jack Campbell.
A testament to the consistency mentioned earlier, the players drafted and developed by the Kings have appeared in a disproportionate amount of games the Kings have played thus far.
Had Jonathan Quick not injured himself in the first period of the first game this season, the numbers would presumably favor drafted players even more. Injuries to McNabb and Gaborik may have lowered the number of games played by players acquired via trade, but when healthy both players are relative locks to appear in the Kings lineup.
With the exception of Jeff Carter and Tanner Pearson, the Kings have struggled to score this season. Their 2.49 goals per game ranks 23rd in the NHL and 11th in the Western Conference. Injuries to Marian Gaborik (21 games) and Tyler Toffoli (19 games) are clear culprits but by no means the only explanation for the dearth. Players like Jake Muzzin, acquired via free-agency but developed by the Kings bolster the weak overall production of the Free Agent signings, but for the most part the bulk of offense is provided by players hand-picked by the Kings scouting and development staff with significant contributions from high profile trade acquisitions.
The Kings will most likely spend the remainder of the regular season battling for a playoff spot. Cap concerns and the impending expansion draft make this trade deadline particularly tricky for the Kings but if Dean Lombardi has proven anything over his tenure it's that he's capable of finding players via trade (Carter/Gaborik) or late season call ups (King/Toffoli) that can contribute to a deep playoff run for the Kings.