It was a busy summer for sure in Los Angeles, but perhaps the biggest signing the Kings made was re-signing restricted free agent Mike Cammalleri to an extension. Cammalleri, 25, scored 80 points last season, a number that is expected to grow as the Kings bolstered the attack over the summer.
Cammalleri joins Alexander Frolov, who was second on the team with 71 points a year ago, and 22-year-olds Dustin Brown and Patrick O’Sullivan to round out one of the elite groups of players under age 25 in the NHL. Brown was atop the League leaders in hits last season and O’Sullivan is just beginning to scratch the surface in terms of producing at the NHL level.
Of course, no discussion of the Kings’ kids can be complete without mentioning franchise man Anze Kopitar, who was among the top NHL rookies last season. The 19-year-old Slovenian phenom scored 20 goals and 61 points in his maiden season, finishing third on the team in scoring. He is a player the Kings plan to build around for many years to come with a skill set on par with last season’s top rookies like Pittsburgh’s Evgeni Malkin and Jordan Staal. Kopitar is big at 6-foot-4, can play all three forward positions, and has an incredible set of hands that allowed him to score highlight-reel goals in bunches.
With that in mind, Lombardi bolstered the Kings’ forward corps over the summer with veteran free agents like Handzus, another big body, and Nagy, one of the more sought-after forwards on the open market. Last season with Phoenix and Dallas, Nagy scored 12 goals and 55 points, totals expected to grow with some stability (he was traded at the deadline because he was in a contract year). Handzus figures to make the Kings a better team defensively and he should pick up where he left off before a knee injury cut his last season short. Calder, another free agent, is an energetic player who will help Los Angeles establish an identity this year.
The Los Angeles power play lives and dies with Cammalleri, who racked up 16 extra-man goals as the triggerman of the unit. He’ll have plenty of help again this season from Frolov (10 PPG), Brown (13), as well as Nagy, who scored one-third of his 12 total goals on the extra man.
Kopitar stands to improve on his power-play production after scoring seven goals there last season.
Up and Coming
Brian Boyle -- Drafted No. 26 overall in 2003, Boyle is a 6-foot-6 center who could be a monster in front of the net. Talented at both ends of the rink, the big man also played some defense at Boston College, where he achieved folk hero status with 53 points and 104 penalty minutes his senior year. Saw action in two AHL games with Manchester last year following the NCAA season..
Marc-Andre Cliche -- Spent the last four years in the QMJHL. … Acquired from the Rangers in the deal that sent Sean Avery East. … This 20-year-old can play center or wing, and at 6-1, has decent size. … Scored eight goals and 18 points last year for Lewiston.
Trevor Lewis -- Another first-round pick, selected by LA No. 17 overall in 2006. … In eight games with Manchester last season following the conclusion of the Owen Sound season, scored four goals and six points.
The Kings have plenty of question marks up and down the lineup, but the biggest one might be attached to their biggest player. Michal Handzus missed 74 games last year with a knee injury, so there’s a chance he might not be the defensive dynamo he once was. When the Kings acquired him, Lombardi called him “the key guy”, interesting because he only played eight games last season for Chicago. If healthy, the big man could be a force up the middle.