Coming off a career year in point totals, LA Kings’ winger Dustin Brown is now sidelined with a broken finger and out indefinitely. And while I know that it wasn’t on Brown to exactly “carry” the team’s offense, it’s a shame to see him miss time when he was slated to play to the right of Anze Kopitar and Ilya Kovalchuk.
The Kings’ forward lineup now, suddenly, looks a bit strange and unsatisfying.
Forward Lines without Brown
In order to keep their second “Jeff Carter Line” intact (Pearson, Carter, Toffoli), it looks like the Kings are going to have Alex Iafallo reprise his role of first line left winger on Kopitar’s line, moving Ilya Kovalchuk over to Kopitar’s right.
Iafallo - Kopitar - Kovalchuk
I’d be a little surprised of Kovalchuk doesn’t eventually move back over to the left wing spot, since that’s where he typically plays despite being a right handed shooter. I suppose it’s an effort to avoid having two first line forwards playing on their off-wing.
This puts rookie Austin Wagner on the third line left wing spot, which likely would have gone to Gabe Vilardi, were it not for the rookie’s lingering back issues.
Currently Vilardi is listed as an injured, non-roster player.
On the Bright Side
Jaret Anderson-Dolan has also made the opening night roster, though was a fourth component to LA’s fourth line of Kyle Clifford, Mike Amadio and Nate Thompson during the team’s recent handful of practices. If Anderson-Dolan gets a chance to play, I’d expected him to slot in as Wagner’s replacement on the third line as a left-handed shooter.
While Wagner’s speed is enticing, I would (personally) rather see Anderson-Dolan get that third line look.
It’s possible we see some of both him and Wagner before October is done with.
Get well soon, Gabe and Dustin.