Ok so after the first round it was a bit too early to know if what we were looking at was for real. Now after 14 games, we the Kings fans know what is real with this team. So, we can talk about the much anticipated off-season.
Lets face it, we're contenders now.
Top six - The right wings and the centers are fine. Brown obviously is playing great at the first line left wing.
I know there's a lot of us thinking and wishing that we would sign Parise. And there's talk of us re-signing Penner. I think the latter is more likely. The former...well, when was the last time we ever got a high-profile UFA? Like...never. All I know is this. Gagne is coming back next year...he's not retiring. Penner, he'll play the 2nd or 3rd line, whatever we ask...same with Gagne.
I doubt we can sell the idea to Parise to play the 2nd line and leave his captaincy and the East Coast. But, signing Penner and getting someone like Umberger will be cheaper than signing Parise, I believe.
Bottom six - The fourth line, we just need to take care of Colin Fraser. The rest of the line is good. The third line we'll lose Stoll. Lewis can move to center on that line, no problem. We'll have to see how Clifford and Richardson play out. King will be there too on the third line.
I think if we acquire someone for the third line, RJ Umberger from Columbus would be a perfect fit for our culture, our system and he has the size, toughness and skill to boot plus he's the right age for our group (so's Penner). We'll also have Gagne and Penner in the third line mix as well. I fully expect to have an even better third line next year and it's important as we do that four line thing. While we have Gagne for this coming year, after that I'm guessing he retires or does something else...either way that money he has can go to Quick. We need forwards that have a four+ year future with this team.
Defense - Our top pairing of Doughty and Mitchell is inked in. Voynov is almost untouchable too. The rest of the three, Scuderi, Greene and Martinez all can be considered in play. It would make more sense for us to go after Ryan Suter as he's younger than Scuderi and better than Greene. Very likely if we were to get him, he could replace Scuderi who would replace Greene on the bottom six. Martinez is also tradable for a good pick as we have almost no picks this year and we have Hickey, Muzzin and possibly one other defenseman both looking ready to play. Obviously Drewiske is gone.
To be real, we can go after Suter but we won't get him...again, top UFA, again, tough sell to play on the second line/pairing.
Although our six has been solid, I would definitely shake things up as we have to contend for years, especially with Martinez. Who knows, maybe one of the two guys mentioned above could be even better?
Goaltending - no changes until Quick has a new deal.
So to summarize...we don't go after Parise and we just re-sign Penner, giving us plenty of LWs; we don't re-sign Stoll; maybe get another 3rd liner like RJ Umberger to replace Lewis who replaces Stoll for the future; make a run at Suter if possible who can replace Greene or Scuderi (better Scuderi) and again is in the same age group; move Martinez to give a shot to Hickey and Muzzin while getting us a pick this year.
If we land neither Parise or Suter, we're still in good shape for the present and future. And we may even save money for future moves and for future deals like re-signing Quick.
So happy to say that we needn't worry about what this team should do in the offseason until mid-June or so. Not too many holes to fill, which is always a positive. And the Kings would be stupid to break apart any of their top six D when as a unit they form one of the best if not the best defensive groups in the NHL. Forget Suter, he'll be overpaid and he's overrated.
We're going to have to get used to tinkering with the roster here and there in order to stay in contention. Luckily for us fans, we don't have to have any major changes due to Dean Lombardi's careful salary management. No Dale Tallon/Ray Shero blowups for us. It's something all good teams have to do but we won't have major ups and downs.
Guys... if it's OK, I'd like to close this thread for now and re-open it when the season is actually over - when we can all offer an informed opinion on changes. I'm not sure we're going to get anywhere with this over the next two weeks.