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Rink Ramblings: U.S. Born Players -- Part Two

by Nick Nickson / Los Angeles Kings

Editor's Note: This is part two of a two-part series that started yesterday at LAKings.com. Part one looked at the goalies and the defensemen.

At forward...
Our first two lines are comprised of players who had a knack for scoring and/or creating offense.  On our No. 1 line, Jimmy Carson (Detroit, MI) is our center.  The Kings' first round pick in 1986 (2nd overall), Carson burst on to the scene by scoring 37 goals and 79 points as a rookie in 1986-87. He followed that season with 55 goals and 107 points in his sophomore season, a season where he recorded a club record five hat tricks.  He was part of the Wayne Gretzky trade in August of 1988 but was re-acquired in 1992 and played for the Kings the season they went to the Finals (1992-93).  He averaged a point a game with the Kings in 219 games.  Current Kings captain, Dustin Brown (Ithaca, NY), is our right wing.  Now in his eighth season with the Kings, Brown is the highest scoring U.S. born player in team history (over 300 points) and has played more games (over 500) than anyone born in the U.S. in team history.  Twice Brown has led the Kings in goals and he consistently brings a physical game every night.  Rounding out our first line is left wing Patrick O'Sullivan (Winston-Salem, NC).  O’Sullivan spent 188 games with the Kings and his best NHL season was the 2007-08 season when he scored 22 goals and added 53 points.  O'Sullivan's assets include his skating and his shot.

Our second line was put together because when they played together they were fun to watch as all three could skate and all three could score.  Even though he played just 88 games over two seasons for the Kings starting in 1991-92, center Corey Millen (Cloquet, MN) averaged almost a point a game with 43 goals and 80 points.  At 5-foot-8, Millen was tough to catch and unfortunately was in and out of the lineup with injuries.   Millen's left wing is Mike Donnelly (Detroit, MI).  Donnelly scored 29 goals in 1992-93 and none were on the power play.  In his Kings career, he played 307 games, scoring 87 goals and 170 points.  On the right side is Tony Granato (Downers Grove, IL).  The top scoring U.S. born player in Kings history until he was surpassed by Brown, Granato had 148 goals as a King in 380 games and played bigger than his size and on occasion could play the role as agitator quite well.  He was also a regular penalty killer during his time as a King.

Our third line is our shut-down line that will play against the opponents’ top-line.  At center is Bryan Smolinski (Toledo, OH).  Smolinski ranks fourth on the Kings scoring list for U.S. born players (78 goals and 191 points) and he spent 295 games at center for the Kings beginning in 1999-00 when he was acquired with Ziggy Palffy from the New York Islanders.  Under coach Andy Murray "Smoke" was used in a shut down role in the 2000, 2001 and 2002 playoffs. On right wing is Bob Kudelski (Springfield, MA). The Yale University alum spent parts of six seasons in L.A. and had three consecutive seasons scoring 23, 23 and 22 goals beginning in 1989-90.  In 269 career games with the Kings he totaled 72 goals and 126 points.  The left wing on this unit is Craig Johnson (St. Paul, MN).  Acquired from St. Louis in the deal that sent Wayne Gretzky to the Blues, Johnson played eight seasons with the Kings beginning in 1996.  An extremely fast skater, Johnson played 429 games as a King scoring 62 goals and 141 points.  Only Donnelly scored more points among U.S. born left wings to play for the Kings.

On the fourth line we chose Craig Conroy (Potsdam, NY).  Conroy, like Smolinski, was used a lot in a checking role while with the Kings but also had an offensive flare.  In 130 games as a King he tallied 27 goals and 55 assists. At left wing we go with Steve Jensen (Minneapolis, MN) out of Michigan Tech.   Like Sargent, Jensen was one of the first U.S. born players who became a regular with the Kings.  He spent four seasons with the Kings beginning in 1978-79 and he averaged 21 goals in each of his first three seasons and had some toughness to his play as well.  The right wing on our fourth line is Bryan Erickson (Roseau, MN).  A product of the University of Minnesota, “Butsy” had a pretty good knack around the net and was an above average skater.  In 165 games as a King in the mid-1980s, he scored 46 goals and 114 points with back-to-back 20-goal seasons in 1985-86 and 1986-87.

Whenever this team needs toughness we won't hesitate to insert Jay Miller (Boston, MA). Miller was a member of some very good Kings teams in the Gretzky Era and was on board for five seasons beginning in 1988-89. He along with Marty McSorley made sure no one messed with the Kings high-end talent.  In 230 games as a King, Miller racked up 865 penalty minutes.  To close out our 14-man roster of forwards we include Dan Bylsma (Grand Haven. MI).  Early in his tenure with the Kings he admitted that probably the only reason he was in the NHL was because he worked harder than a lot of more talented players.  You need players around who seem to defy the odds.  Bylsma spent parts of five seasons with the Kings and was adept at killing penalties. He totaled 220 games with the Kings.

So there you have it...our all US born Kings team...Stars and Stripes forever!!!

Nick Nickson is in his 31st season of calling Kings’ action on the radio. He and his partner, former Kings left wing Daryl Evans, can be heard on KTLK AM 1150 and along the Kings Radio Network.

Nick and Daryl invite all Kings’ fans to join them for “Kings Talk” on the radio after every Kings home game.  Call 1-888-570-5522 with questions and comments or watch the show LIVE as they broadcast from The Mixing Room at the JW Marriott LA Live.

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