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Los Angeles Kings season preview

10/3/2005

THE BOTTOM LINE

By Jim Kelley, Special to ESPN.com


The Kings are among the quietest teams in terms of blowing their own horn, but they sure can trumpet some big changes.

Offense: They picked up star forward Jeremy Roenick in a trade with Philadelphia. They signed scorer Pavol Demitra away from St. Louis, and that's two-thirds of a new No. 1 line. They have a new second line in veteran Luc Robitaille, Craig Conroy and Valeri Bure and a fistful of good young players, including Alexander Frolov and Dustin Brown. There's a nice mix of veteran talent and scoring ability.

Defense: A relatively weak 20th in 2003-04, there's hope in kid talents Tim Gleason and Denis Grebeshkov, who appear NHL ready. They join Lubomir Visnovsky, who is already a rising star as a puck mover. It will need time to jell, but there is talent there.

Goaltending: Having given up on the wildly inconsistent Roman Cechmanek, the Kings obtained Mathieu Garon, the former backup from Montreal, who appears NHL ready. He's big and has a good glove hand, but hasn't been an NHL No. 1 yet.

WHERE THEY'LL FINISH
8th
YES … Good coaching, some veteran scorers and playmakers and a better lineup than the one that missed the playoffs by the closest of margins the last two seasons.
BUT … Garon takes on a lot of responsibility. If he's not ready, the Kings don't have a veteran netminder in reserve.

PLAYER TO WATCH

Mike Cammalleri is a wing prospect with the reputation of a scorer (second in the AHL last year), but he'll need to prove it in this league.

HEY, COACH!

Andy Murray is a highly regarded coach whose teams have been hampered by budget constraints and injuries in recent seasons, but he always gets the most from his charges.


FACEOFFS
BEST OFFSEASON MOVE --> NEW FACES


Moving out the chronically injured Jason Allison and Adam Deadmarsh, freeing cap room for Jeremy Roenick (left), Pavol Demitra and others.

WORST OFFSEASON MOVE --> EXPORTS


Losing highly regarded Yanick Lehoux to Russia in a bidding war. He was a scoring sensation in juniors and appeared NHL ready.

Luc Robitaille, LW
Robitaille posted 22 goals and 29 assists in 80 games in 2003-04.

Roman Cechmanek, G
Cechmanek, who split duties with Cristobal Huet in 2003-04, struggled to a 18-21-6 record and 2.51 GAA.

Quoteables

It is uncalled for. It is ridiculous -- one of the reasons our game isn't as good as it once was.

Jeremy Roenick on a hit he took from Phoenix's Denis Gauthier during the preseason