What are the Kings planning while Kopitar is out injured?

Jeff Carter LA Kings MayorsManor by IkiriLast weekend, initial reports out of Sweden indicated Anze Kopitar’s right knee had a mild sprain and he’d be out 2-3 weeks. After he received an MRI there on Monday the Kings were given a copy of the report.  Soon thereafter, Kings GM Dean Lombardi confirmed to Helene Elliott of the LA Times that the original diagnosis looked to be accurate. Officially, it’s being called a Grade 2 MCL strain.

Kopitar, who tied Dustin Brown as the leading points producer in the playoffs last year, is certainly an important player for the Kings and many believed this could be a coming out party for him in 2013.

So, now what does the team do?

Well, Darryl Sutter weighed in first.

“You know what, I can’t even honestly really tell you until we do our medicals,” the coach said. “Once the players ratify the CBA, we’re hoping Saturday, (maybe) Sunday, to do our medicals. But, until that’s done, we can’t tell you anything about anybody quite honestly.”

Never deterred, we tried again…

If – you know, hypothetically – Kopitar missed the handful of games this month, what’s the thinking at the moment?  Move Mike Richards up to the top line or put Jeff Carter in as the 1C?

Let’s just say, even though training camp hasn’t begun yet, Sutter was in mid-season form.

“I don’t know who the top line is,” Sutter remarked. “Mike Richards didn’t play on the top line? I don’t think you win a Stanley Cup with one top line, do you?”

Thankfully, Lombardi was a little more forthright.

“The one good thing about up front, is Darryl has some options,” the GM said.  “You’re not going to replace Kopitar. But, if you move Carter into the middle, it doesn’t look so bad. At least we’re kind of covered there. But, that’s not saying it replaces (Kopitar).”

No, nobody is saying it replaces Kopitar.  Come on, he’s led the team in scoring for five straight years.

However, great hockey teams are usually strong down the middle.

LA could just slide everybody up – Richards to the first line, Stoll to the second, etc.  That’s one of Sutter’s options.

Yet, the Carter option makes them stronger down the middle.  It’s a better move.

So, as we posted on twitter back om Monday, here’s what we’d do:

Dustin Penner – Jeff Carter – Justin Williams
Simon Gagne – Mike Richards – Dustin Brown
Dwight King – Jarret Stoll – Trevor Lewis
Kyle Clifford – Colin Fraser – (Brad Richardson or Kevin Westgarth)

Carter/Richards/Stoll should be stronger down the middle than say Richards/Stoll/Lewis.   You can also flip-flop Williams and Brown on the right side, that’s fine either way.

And for the Andrei Loktionov fan club members, remember this – he’s had plenty of opportunities over the past two seasons and nothing has changed from then to now. We’re not arguing his talent, just his production. That’s the simple reason why he’s not an option at the moment.  He’s in Manchester and from what Lombardi told us, don’t expect to see him in LA for training camp.

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  1. [...] those are the same line combos we tweeted out five days ago and wrote about in an article here a few days ago. Guess great minds think alike. Well, either that or Darryl Sutter reads our [...]

  2. [...] When we asked coach Darryl Sutter about his plans for the top six forwards on Thursday night he was pretty coy about things. GM Dean Lombardi spilled the news though, Jeff Carter was temporarily moving back to [...]