Who would you guys rather have as our 4th line LW, Thornton or Ivanans. This is assuming Zeiler will play center. I would preferably have Ivanans out there, who would be a much better choice to protect the young guys rather than Thornton.
Thankfully with Thornton and Willsie being on the final year of their contracts, the Kings fourth line in the future could be centered by a natural center, Brady Murray, with Zeiler on the RW and Ivanans or another player from the system on the left.
I figure for next season, on most nights, we will see Thornton dressed (if he isn't hurt). But seeing how he's rarely 100%, Ivanans should get in his fair share of games. I figure Ivanans to appear in 50-60 or so games.
Ivanans, who signed an extension this past year, will also be unrestricted next summer. I would hope he continues to improve his abilities, with and without the puck as well as further proving himself as a top heavyweight in the NHL. If he does so, he will warrant yet another contract extension from the team.
I am going in a different direction than most, I want an energy group than will hit lights out: Tukonen / Zeiler / Ivanans
Extras: Thornton & Willsie
This group won't score a lick, but they would put a hurt into the opponents...a good opprotunity for Tuk's if he can make the team. I don't see Thornton or Willsie adding adding the fierce hitting I would want from the 4th line....just my opinion.
I like it because it keeps the guy making the runs and giving out the late hits protected by two guys most players won't want to get tangled with. Especially in the case of Ivanans.
Willsie doesn't bring "fourth line attributes" to a 4th line role. He brings second and third line attributes and those are nowhere near good enough to have him playing in those spots on most any team in the league, IMO. Sure he could play for Phoenix or something, but for a team with a forward group like this, I expect far better.
I remember making a case when he was signed that Willsie would be a good addition to the third line, boy was I wrong.
No matter it is put, our fourth line will be a constant rotation of Zeiler, Ivanans, Thornton, Willsie, Dallman/Murray/Training Camp surprise. All bring different attributes to the table, and it will allow Crawford many different options each night. It is a nice mix, but one that could stand to get faster and younger, but should with the release of Willsie, Thornton, Dallman next year.
Considering that the options for fourth line center are limited I'd be thinking something along the lines of Mike "Pecawood" Peca. I realize he could just be this years McCauley/Bure but he could be just the ticket for centering that ubiquitous fourth line. Good on face offs (50% Last year). Penalty killer. Always a good plus/minus (even on atrocious Islanders teams of the early 2000's variety). Feisty. Some reports out say he'd play for half of last years salary on a one year deal. With the MC arbi we have enough to squeak him in. There is really no one in the orgie that is "ferpecto", so to speak, so yeah, serious consideration.