These two veterans get high marks at the halfway point of the season. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
The secondnd half of our mid-season look at the players on the LA Kings.
Good morning, class. I know you're excited and you all want to know what your mid-term grades are, but first I want to speak to you as a class about what I've seen this semester. You're a hard-working, talented group, but I feel you're not working quite hard enough. These grades aren't nearly high enough and I know you can do better. All those easy assignments I gave you in January? Half of you didn't even turn them in! Our lessons and work is going to get a lot harder from here on out and we shouldn't have some of these grades.
This is Part II of our mid-season report card; Part I can be found here.
Alec Martinez: B
|2010 - Alec Martinez||22||2||4||6||-4||12||1||0||0||16|
Alec Martinez is probably the sixth or even seventh highest rated defenseman in the Kings' prospect pool, yet he's the one surviving in the NHL. Despite being a rookie, Martinez actually has the best grasp on when to jump into the play of any Kings defenseman without getting caught out of position if the puck goes the other way. He's not great in his defensive zone and Martinez will probably get squeezed out of the Kings organization by the defensemen below him, but hopefully the Kings can get a good piece for him.
(Fun Fact: Alec Martinez is about six months younger than Jack Johnson. That's crazy when you consider how long Jack's been around.)
Willie Mitchell: Incomplete
|2010 - Willie Mitchell||17||1||4||5||4||5||0||1||0||14|
Mitchell's like one of those kids that's nice enough, doesn't cause any trouble, but then he's gone for two weeks at a time. You get the idea that he knows the material and he's probably smart enough to pass the final, but can you really give him an A over kids who were there everyday? We'll judge him at the end of the year.
(Another Fun Fact: Mitchell hasn't committed a minor penalty this season, despite playing 17 games in a prime defensive role. That's amazing.)
Alexei Ponikarovksy: C (My Grade), F (Murray's Grade)
|2010 - Alexei Ponikarovsky||24||3||4||7||2||12||0||0||0||35|
Ponikarovksy was supposed to fill the Alexander Frolov role this season, but he's spent much of the year injured, benched or yelled at for inconsistent play. What I'm trying to say is that he's filled Frolov's role exactly and Murray hates him. I'm not seeing what Poni is doing to earn Murray's ire but he's doing... something. Maybe he's making fart noises while Murray's trying to give a speech to the team or something. The Kings need to get Poni going, though, because he's the kind of player that would make a large contribution in the playoffs.
Jonathan Quick: A-
|2010 - Jonathan Quick||32||1872||19||11||68||2.18||849||781||.920||4|
Quick was so close to getting an A but then he faltered in January and got a minus tacked on at the end. For the most part Quick has been excellent, though, using his natural acrobatic ability to make game-changing saves while using a newfound calmness to keep the team focused in front of him. Quick is the type of person that rises to challenges; I think the specter of Jonathan Bernier motivated him all season and drove him to his early season excellence. He's going to need to at least stay consistent to his current numbers for the Kings to make the playoffs. Hopefully he doesn't fade down the stretch like he did last season.
Brad Richardson: C-
|2010 - Brad Richardson||36||6||3||9||-6||19||0||1||1||53|
Last season's surprise hero, Richardson was expected to solidify the Kings' fourth line; instead, he's been in and out of the line-up in favor of younger players. Richardson, though only 25, is viewed as more of a finished product and has often been left out in favor of the younger Trevor Lewis on the fourth line and on the penalty kill this season. He's fast and has a good shot, but Richardson, for whatever reason, just hasn't locked into a spot. He, like Alec Martinez, might find himself on another team if the Kings decide to make a move at the trade deadline.
Rob Scuderi: A
|2010 - Rob Scuderi||42||1||10||11||13||12||0||0||1||25|
Rob Scuderi is like the teacher's aide. He's quiet, doesn't seem to do much, but he's a welcome support for Terry Murray and always knows what to do. Scuderi has been remarkable this season, playing top defensive minutes with a variety of partners. He's the type of player that doesn't seem to do... anything, and yet he has a huge impact on the game. He's been one of the Kings' best players and one of the few constants on a defense that has been in flux for most of the first half. He's the Kings' unsung hero.
Wayne Simmonds: D+
|2010 - Wayne Simmonds||42||9||7||16||-4||54||0||0||2||65|
Poor Meat Train. After scoring 42 points last season, all at even strength, big things were expected from Wayne Simmonds this season. He has been given power play time, he's been moved throughout the line-up, and he's just not producing like he should be. He's capable of dazzling goals but the compete the Kings need each night hasn't been there. It kill me giving him a bad grade because he's probably my favorite player, but his inability to get on the board consistently like he did last year is hurting the Kings. He needs to be a big riser in the 2nd half of the season.
Ryan Smyth: A
|2010 - Ryan Smyth||42||17||12||29||4||25||7||0||1||118|
I guess the ol' goat has something left in him, after all. Smyth was left for dead after last season, one which started with a bang and ended with a whimper, but he's picked up his game this season. Smyth has been one of the few players excelling on the power play this season and he's also the best forward on the team at knowing when to break out of the zone for an odd-man attack; unfortunately, he can't do anything on those odd-man attacks but that's another matter. Overall, Smyth has led on the ice and helped mentor Kings prospect Brayden Schenn off, and he's actually earned his rather large paycheck so far this season.
Jarret Stoll: C-
|2010 - Jarret Stoll||42||11||16||27||3||18||2||1||1||108|
It's probably not fair to judge Jarret Stoll and Michal Handzus like we have; both are primarily defensive centers that can chip in offensively on occasion, but actually relying on them for offense in foolhardy. Yet, here we are. Stoll started out strong, scoring the bulk of his points in October and November before falling hard in December. He was recently switched with Michal Handzus into more of a defensive, shutdown role, and it remains to be seen how he adapts to that.
One area where Stoll has excelled has been in the faceoff circle, where he currently sits 5th in the entire league in faceoff percentage. Next time you watch a game, watch how many times he taps his stick to the ice: I'm pretty sure his faceoff percentage when he taps his stick twice is somewhere around 90%, while every other time it's around 30%.
...I watch too much hockey.
Marco Sturm: Incomplete
|2010 - Marco Sturm||11||3||3||6||3||17||1||0||0||20|
Since Sturm's a transfer student and a foreign exchange student we'll give him a break for now. Sturm has played 11 games with the Kings since he was basically given away by the Boston Bruins and so far he's been... adequate. He has six points in those 11 games but he hasn't really shown the speed he's known for. That's understandable since he's coming off major knee surgery. Conversely, however, Sturm has shown better defense than I thought he would and a willingness to get to the front of the net that I didn't know he had. He's been under fire from Terry Murray for being lazy in practice, although Murray has since praised Sturm's game in recent days. He even got into a fight (the first of his career) in his last game. Sturm will hopefully grow into an impact player for a Kings' team that sorely needs one.
(I tried twice to bring up Westgarth' stats and the SBNation technology fritzed on me both times. I like to think it was trying to protect me and you from the horror that is Kevin Westgarth.)
The F stands for "Fighter." It also stands for what I yell every time he blows a defensive assignment.
Justin Williams: A
|2010 - Justin Williams||42||16||19||35||12||45||5||0||3||125|
Justin Williams is the feel-good story of the NHL season, in my opinion. In the past two seasons, Williams has played 61 games; this season, he's on pace to play all 82. In the past three seasons he's scored 43 points; this season, he's on pace to score 70. Williams is the only Kings forward besides Anze Kopitar that you can consider skilled with the puck; he stands out as a wizard amongst a group of trolls. You have to worry, however, about the toll a full season will have on his body. He hasn't played over 50 games in five years. Williams, recently paired with Kopitar on the top line, will need to stay healthy and effective if the Kings want to score some goals in the second half.
Most Likely To Improve: Wayne Simmonds, Drew Doughty
Most Likely To Regress: Ryan Smyth, Justin Williams
Most Likely To Be Traded: Brad Richardson, Alec Martinez
Most Likely To Be Called Up: Vyacheslav Voynov, Oscar Moller