How many third lines do the Kings have?
The main issue with Brown/Handzus/Simmonds as a line is who would play on the right side. Brown sucked on the right last year, and talked openly about how difficult it was for him. Does Simmonds switch sides on that line? The funny thing is, x/Stoll/Brown is <i>also</i> really a third line. The Kings have two third lines right now. Or two seconds and a third…and no fourth. Or something.
Lewis is a great candidate to play on the right side with Handzus and Simmonds, or, for that matter, with Stoll and Brown. What if Cliche (another defensive specialist) has a great camp? What if anyone pulls a Moller/Simmonds and makes the team ahead of schedule? There is no room, without some kind of — dealing.
It’s obviously premature to try to cobble together lines before camp, to say nothing of rookie camp, prospect camp, summer free agency and the draft. Nevertheless! As of today, the Kings’ roster starter kit includes:
(press box) F13/F14
Moller, Purcell, Richardson, Lewis, Zeiler, Boyle are the guys who have played NHL games. Cliche, Clune, King, Wudrick, Westgarth, Azevedo, Loktionov are the guys who haven’t. Of all the guys on that list, Zeiler is the only one I can see being a candidate for being on the roster as an F13/14. Maybe they re-sign Armstrong for that purpose. Or it’s Ivanans, but so far he’s got a semi-regular spot on the fourth line / bench.
If you consider that DL is likely to add a top-six forward (drop him in the F4 slot, although obviously F1-F6 will be shuffled at will), it becomes clear that something’s got to give re F7-F12: Handzus, Simmonds, Moller, Purcell, Lewis, Ivanans, Richardson, Zeiler, Boyle. At least one of those names is not going to make the team, and three or four of them will not play very much (assuming Ivanans is going to dress more than half the time).
Moller and Purcell, in particular, are top-six players. So there is a huge issue regarding the <i>concept</i> of the fourth line — if it’s a bruiser/enforcer line, I don’t really know what to do with Moller and Purcell, who don’t fit there. If it’s a speed/energy line, they fit, but then Ivanans doesn’t, and we all are assuming that TM/DL want that enforcer around. Maybe Ivanans is the nightly healthy scratch and we go with a fourth line of Purcell/Moller/Lokionov (or Azevedo or someone similarly dangerous). I would love that. But I think it’s a loooooong shot. I’m more worried that DL also sees the log-jam, but will side with the enforcer concept and either send Moller to the AHL for half the season (he’s waiver exempt) and trade Teddy.