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Kings Release Training Camp Groups, I Overanalyze Them

Training camps are a large affair in hockey: not only is the senior team there, but also the 2 minor league teams and the plethora of players plying their trade in Junior hockey, college, and Europe. Since there are so many people at camp, most teams will split their rosters into groups to get probable lines more time to get comfortable with one another. The Kings split their training camp into three groups and the results were... probably meaningless but nevertheless enlightening.  A look at the people whose stock probably rose and fell:

Riser: Thomas Hickey

Hickey is in Group A along with Davis Drewiske and Peter Harrold, the incumbent 7th and 8th defensemen from last season. With Matt Greene out for a while with a bum shoulder, Hickey has a good opportunity to surpass both Drewiske and Harrold and win a job out of camp. His competitors for the job are in different groups so all eyes will be on Hickey.

Faller: Johan Fransson

Fransson was thought to be in contention for the final defensive spot but right now he's skating with Jack Johnson, Rob Scuderi and a bunch of scrubs. He's in a spot where you'd expect a warm body to go, not a man with a realistic shot of making the team.

Riser: Willie Mitchell

The Kings' newest acquisition is opening camp alongside Drew Doughty. That is a good place to be.

Faller: Rob Scuderi... maybe.

Scuderi was Drew Doughty's defensive partner for most of last season and they excelled together, but it appears the Kings will try Scuderi alongside Jack Johnson. Johnson is a dynamic presence on the ice but his defensive skills are still lacking; the hope is that Scuderi can cover for Johnson's mistakes. Basically, Scuderi went from playing with Drew Doughty to being a babysitter.

Alternatively, the Kings are just getting everyone on the team used to playing with Doughty since he'll probably be playing almost half the game. That makes sense too.

Riser: Dustin Brown

Dustin Brown has been the Kings' best right winger for the past 2 seasons but he's usually played on the Kings' 2nd line. To open camp, it looks like he's being given a chance to skate with Ryan Smyth and Anze Kopitar on the top line. Brown was often given the task of creating offense pretty much by himself last year, but it looks like the Kings are rewarding him with 2 talented skaters this season.

Faller: Justin Williams

The oft-injured winger was fantastic in the first half of last season until he broke his leg. Now he gets to skate with Jarret Stoll and probably Scott Parse in Group C. Plus he has the most NHL-ready winger prospect on the Kings, Oscar Moller, skating right next to him in camp. There's still a chance that Williams could come to camp healthy and show off the talents that made him so highly sought-after by the Kings, but he's probably looking at 15-16 minutes a game to start the season.

Riser(s): Alexei Ponikarovsky, Michal Handzus, Wayne "Meat Train" Simmonds

They didn't actually rise or fall, I just like a Poni-Zeus-Meat line. Who doesn't love Poni Meat?

 

The full rosters for each group are below, with their numbers in bold. On Saturday the team will be in two large groups as they run through basic elements of Terry Murray's system, then they'll break off into 3 groups on Sunday and through most of camp. I'll be there Sunday and I've indicated which players I'll be watching closely in bold. I'll also be twittering random thoughts throughout the day (I hope) so if you want to follow me just follow @rudykelly for updates. Or search for me or whatever, I'm still figuring out Twitter. Apparently I turned 75 years old overnight.

 

GROUP A


Goalies: Jean-Francois Berube (75), Martin Jones (65), Garrett Zemlak (46)
Defensemen: Andrew Campbell (81), Davis Drewiske (44), Peter Harrold (5), Thomas Hickey (37), Patrick Mullen (59)
Centers: Justin Azevedo (62), Michael Handzus (26), Trevor Lewis (61), Michael Pelech (70)
Left wingers: Jordan Nolan (71), Alexei Ponikarovsky (27), Brad Richardson (15)
Right wingers: Wayne Simmonds (17), Linden Vey (57), Kevin Westgarth (19)

GROUP B


Goalies: Erik Ersberg (31), Jonathan Quick (32)
Defensemen: Drew Doughty (8), Samuel Groulx (63), Alec Martinez (53), Willie Mitchell (33), Jake Muzzin (85)
Centers: Corey Elkins (47), Anze Kopitar (11), Andrei Loktionov (48)
Left winger: Riley Brace (52), Rich Clune (56), Dwight King (74), Ryan Smyth (94)
Right wingers: Dustin Brown (23), Bud Holloway (50), Brandon Kozun (51), David Meckler (58)

GROUP C


Goalies: Jonathan Bernier (45), Jeff Zatkoff (36)
Defensemen: Nicolas Deslauriers (80), Johan Fransson (40), Jack Johnson (3), Dylan King (54), David Kolomatis (83), Rob Scuderi (7)
Centers: Robert Czarnik (77), Brayden Schenn (55), Jarret Stoll (28), Jordan Weal (60)
Left wingers: Kyle Clifford (64), Zach Harnden (78), Scott Parse (21), Ray Kaunisto(82)
Right wingers: Oscar Moller (9), Tyler Toffoli (73), Justin Williams (14), John Zeiler (13)