Putting together an NHL roster is one giant puzzle. Putting together an NHL roster that is competitive and can contend for the Stanley Cup is like putting that puzzle together and finishing a Rubik’s Cube at the same time. Every team across the league, the Los Angeles Kings included, is trying solve this puzzle and solve it before the rest of the NHL .
Since the Kings have won two Stanley Cups in the last four years, Dean Lombardi seems to have found a cheat sheet for this puzzle. Now with the 2015-16 season just days away, it seems as if Lombardi has his pieces for next season.
Thanks to the Kings’ scouting department and the Manchester Monarchs developing the organization’s young talent, the Kings’ current roster is composed primarily of players that have been drafted by the Kings throughout the years. However, several vital players have been brought in via trade. While the Kings’ two newest players were both brought in via free-agency.
Let’s take a look at the 2015-16 Kings and see exactly how they were built.
Los Angeles Kings’ Draft Picks
Dustin Brown: The longest tenured King on the roster was selected at number 13 by the Kings back in 2003. Fast forward to today and Brown is the team’s captain, has played in 802 games for the Kings and has had Gary Bettman hand him the Stanley Cup twice.
Anze Kopitar: The Kings selected Kopitar with the number 11 pick in the 2005 NHL Entry Draft. Kopitar has led the Kings in scoring eight of the last nine seasons, developed into one of the best two-way players in the league and has two Stanley Cups to his name.
Trevor Lewis: Lewis was selected with the number 17 pick at the 2006 NHL Entry Draft. Lewis didn’t jump straight into the NHL, in fact he spent the 2006-07 season with Owen Sound Attack in the Ontario Hockey League. After spending the following three seasons in the American Hockey League, Lewis finally made his NHL debut in 2008. Lewis finally cracked the big team’s roster in 2010 and hasn’t missed more than 10 games in a season since.
Kyle Clifford: Selected with the 35th pick in the 2009 Draft, Clifford has developed into a solid depth player for the Kings. Amassing 483 penalty minutes in 356 games, Clifford has established himself as one of the grittier players on the Kings’ roster.
Dwight King: King became a King when Los Angeles selected him in the fourth round of the 2007 Draft with the 109th pick. King spent the beginning of his career jumping back and forth from the NHL and the AHL. However, King has become one of Los Angeles’ top utility players on the roster.
Jordan Nolan: Selected in the seventh round at number 186, Nolan’s role on the Kings is quite fitting. Nolan spends much of his time towards the bottom of the Kings’ forward rotation and may see some of his ice time go to younger up-and-coming players this season. Although Nolan only has 29 points in 194 regular seasons, Nolan has a Stanley Cup ring and is singed through the 2017-18 season.
Tanner Pearson: Since being drafted at number 30 overall in the 2012 Draft, Pearson has gotten things done and done fast. The 23-year-old spent only one season in the AHL before breaking into the NHL and becoming a part of the Kings coveted “That 70s Line”. Pearson suffered a leg injury last season that caused him to miss the majority of the second half, so he should be itching for the start of the season.
Tyler Toffoli: The Kings went after offensive talent when they selected Toffoli at number 47 in the 2010 Draft. Toffoli set career highs in goals, assists and points last season with 23, 26 and 49 respectively. At just 23 years old, and a part of the Kings’ offensive juggernaut, “That 70s Line”, Toffoli looks prime for a big 2015-16 season.
Nick Shore: After making his NHL debut last season, it looks as if Shore is prime to get regular bottom six minutes on the Kings’ roster next season. Shore was selected in the third round with 82nd pick in the 2011 Draft. Shore recorded one goal and seven points in 34 games last season.
Andy Andreoff: Selected in the third round at number 80 overall in the 2011 Draft, Andreoff has spent the majority of his career in the AHL. The 24-year-old Canadian made his NHL debut last season and scored two goals in 18 games with the Kings. Andreoff might be in the press box a good chunk of next season, but he should be with the big club for the majority of the year.
Jordan Weal: After scoring 20 goals and grabbing 69 points in 73 games in the AHL last season, and then leading the Monarchs to a championship with his 10 goals and 22 points in 19 playoff games, Shore will make the jump to the NHL next season. Selected at number 70 overall in the 2010 Draft, the Kings may have found a diamond in the rough if Weal’s offensive talent translates over into the NHL.
Drew Doughty: It is only fitting that the highest draft pick on your roster be the heart and soul of your team. Doughty was selected second overall at the 2008 NHL Entry Draft and his play shows it. Doughty plays nearly 30-minutes a night, has developed into one of the top defensemen on the planet and is only 25 years old. With the departure of some veteran names this offseason, watch for Doughty to assume an even bigger role for the Kings.
Alec Martinez: Being drafted by a team, coming up through that same team’s system and then scoring a Stanley Cup clinching goal for that very same team is something only a few NHL players can say they have done. Martinez is one of those players. Martinez was selected in the fourth round of the 2007 Draft, played 147 games with the Manchester Monarchs and scored the Stanley Cup clinching goal in 2014. Talk about climbing the ladder.
Derek Forbort: Forbort was selected 15th overall in the 2010 Draft and has yet to start for the Kings. However, Forbort looks set to be the Kings’ seventh defensemen and should be in the line up at some point this season.
Jonathan Quick: Two Stanley Cups, a Conn Smythe Trophy and the record holder for most games played, wins, and shutouts in a Kings uniform. Not bad for a goalie selected in the third round at number 72 overall way back in 2005.
Players Traded To The Los Angeles Kings
Milan Lucic: The Kings’ most recent trade brought this 235-pound bruiser from Boston to Los Angeles. Lucic’s change of scenery will place him on the Kings’ number one line with Kopitar and Marian Gaborik. There is a lot of mystery as to what exactly Lucic will bring to the Kings’ roster, but many hope his first line minutes will get him back to the 30-goal mark he reached in the 2010-11 season.
Jeff Carter: Many Kings fans rank trading for Carter just as high as trading for Wayne Gretzky when it comes to influential moves in Kings history. Carter was brought in at the 2012 trade deadline and proved to be a catalyst for an anemic Kings offense. Carter grabbed eight goals and 13 points in 20 playoff games for the Kings that postseason. After putting up 27 and 28 goals in the last two seasons, Carter is showing he’s still got some gas left in the tank and should be just as big a threat along with Pearson and Toffoli on “That 70s Line”.
Marian Gaborik: See Carter’s section above and just insert Gaborik for pretty much the same story. Gaborik was brought in around the 2014 deadline and played a vital part in the Kings’ run to the Cup that season. In the 2014 playoffs, Gaborik put up 14 goals and 22 points in 26 games for the Kings and was a viable candidate for the Conn Smythe, if it weren’t for Justin Williams and the whole “Mr. Game 7” thing.
Matt Greene: Greene is the last remaining piece of the 2008 trade that sent Lubomir Visnovski to Edmonton and brought Greene and Jarret Stoll to Los Angeles. Two Stanley Cups and 435 games later, Greene has developed into a fan favorite as well as a leader in the locker room and staple on the Kings’ blue line.
Brayden McNabb: McNabb was grabbed by the Kings back in 2014. After coming to Los Angeles from Buffalo, McNabb spent some time in Manchester. However, McNabb signed a new contract with the Kings after the 2013-14 season and was with the big club all of last season where he dressed for 71 games.
Los Angeles Kings Free Agent Signings
Jake Muzzin: Muzzin has been a bit of a journey man. The defenseman was originally drafted by the Pittsburgh Penguins in the fifth round at 141 overall in 2007 but never signed with the team. Muzzin then entered the Draft again in 2009 and was not selected. Muzzin was not a part of the NHL until he signed a free-agent entry level deal with the Kings in 2010. Since then, Muzzin has worked his way up through Manchester and has become a top pair defenseman for the Kings. Muzzin is a fancy stat monster, boasting a 58.1% Corsi-for rating which led all defensemen last season.
Christian Ehrhoff: Coming into this offseason, the Kings needed a defenseman that could slide into the team’s second pairing. Los Angeles found their man when they signed Ehrhoff. The veteran will fill the hole left by Robyn Regehr’s retirement and Slava Voynov’s departure and will play alongside McNabb.
Jhona Enroth: Enroth was brought in to fill the hole behind Quick. The Kings unloaded former back up Martin Jones and brought in Lucic as a result. Shortly after shipping away Jones, the Kings brought in veteran Enroth to play back up to Quick.
Eric received his BA in Journalism from California State University, Northridge. Eric has contributed to RinkRoyalty.com, Buffalowdown.com and California Rubber Magazine.