Sunday, July 15, 2007

What other folks are up to while we've been at prospect camp -- Los Angeles

What in blazes is Los Angeles doing, trying to be the Gotham of the Left Coast?

The Kings have signed more than $24 million in free agency cap room so far this summer in eight players (three of whom are re-signings, including Lubomir Visnovsky for which $5.65 million of the cap hit represents a contract extension).

It isn’t the amount so much (the Kings are at about $43 million for 22 players at the moment) as the influx of players from other clubs. A club bringing in Tom Preissing, Michal Handzus, Kyle Calder, Ladislav Nagy, and Brad Stuart is doing so with the aim of ramping up expectations.

Given that the Kings haven’t been in the playoffs since the 2001-2002 season and have finished 10th, 11th, 10th, and 14th in the conference in the five seasons since, one can understand a certain frustration. The question is whether this rather substantial infusion of free agents will alleviate that frustration or add an entirely new layer to it if the new guys find trouble meshing with the hands already on-board.

With youngsters like Mike Cammalleri, Anze Kopitar, and Jack Johnson, the Kings have a youthful core, and they have a solid prospect crop waiting in the wings. Are the signings this summer the next logical step, or is it more an effort to “jump start” the developmental process? In the “how-to’s” of building a team, Los Angeles is going to bear watching this year.