There has been a turbulent activity going on in the National Hockey League since the start of July. The free agents’ market was opened on July 1, which provided the teams and players with a fine opportunity to make the better decisions for them. The teams have been trying to get their hands on the best of players for the upcoming Stanley Cup while the players have also been very busy to declare their attachments with the respective teams. The huge amounts are being offered to the players depending on their previous performance and consistent behaviour in the game.
Almost every-day the players are featured in the news on account of their affiliation to the new teams. The air, these days is full of potential speculations about players; who they associate with, the contract periods, and the cash offered to the players.
The two-time 50 goals scorer, Russian Ilya Kovalchuk, was the biggest unrestricted free agent on the market this summer. He was approached by several teams but the Los Angeles Kings and the New Jersey Devils were among those who heavily courted Kovalchuk to join them. After a twist-filled screenplay which lasted the better part of three weeks, Ilya Kovalchuk finally ended the suspense and signed a 17 years 102 million dollar surprising deal with the New Jersey Devils. Ilya Kovalchuk ultimately decided to stay in the Garden State with the Devils.
Los Angeles Kings, who were believed to be the frontrunners of Kovalchuk, made several offers to him last week but they lost the grip in the end. Reportedly, Kovalchuk was not offered enough money by the Kings which became the obvious reason of his attachment with the Devils.
Another option for the Los Angeles Kings was the marginal sixth defenseman, Simon Gagne but he also slipped through their hands. In fact the signing of highly desired Ilya Kovalchuk promptly paved the way for the Flyers to deal Simon Gagne to the Tampa Bay Lightning. The Kings should feel sour about it as they could have drafted a good player in the form Simon Gagne but again heavy contract money took the player away from them.
In the current scenario, the Kings are only depending on a group of forwards who presumably won’t make a huge difference from the squad that eventually gave in to a superior Vancouver Canucks team in the playoffs. The kings’ fortune would improve greatly if the right-winger player Justin Williams and Ryan Smyth have a good level of fitness and luck stands with them to avoid injuries.
In 2009, Justin Williams was placed on an injured reserve after he broke his leg and it was very disturbing for the team. Williams is considered one of the most fragile players in National Hockey League but if he could manage to avoid the injuries, he could be a real advantage for the Los Angeles Kings. He really hopes to shake the injury bug this season. Quite similarly, Ryan Smyth suffered from the upper-body injury and stays out of the stadium for most of times.
But in the case of Gagne, even though he also struggles with the injuries, Kings would have been better off with him.
Now that Los Angeles Kings have let both the players go, Ilya Kovalchuk and Simon Gagne, they are left with limited options in hand. There are various thoughts and opinions about how they will manage to stay in the championship. Will they try their luck with left winger Alex Frolov or gamble with Lee Stempniak or formulize some other strategy?
This is the time that Kings have to come up with a final plan and act very sensibly in order to make a good fighting team and survive in the championship.