Athletic article Trent Yawney recaps the season of all the D

jammer06

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For those of you with access to the athletic, I cant recommend todays article by Lisa Dillman highly enough:

L.A. Kings defense analysis: Who does a coach expect to take a ?big jump??

Some short recaps for those of you without. I'll give the article more time before quoting. If you like close information to the teams that's what these subscriptions are for.

Drew Doughty: Trent really thinks that the progression of Mikey or the addition of a talent equal or better will push Doughty's game to a higher height than even his Norris season. It's hard to imagine but Drew has really been carrying a 1 D pairing without talent for quite some time. Muzzin left in the 18-19 season and arguably had stalled in his development even then. Granted the impetus for the olympics was strong for Drew at the start of the season but unlike when Trent put Maata in a position to fail, Mikey let Drew do his thing.

Mikey Anderson: Trent further complimented Mikey's growth, remember he's only 23, and laid some groundwork lauding his work with Roy in the playoffs. No doubt there's been talk with the staff in how players would slot should a move be made for the #1LD and they are open to Mikey and Roy as a 3-4 with a super pair or vice versa. In particular Trent praised Mikey's work away from the puck doing the little things that let Doughty do his with the puck.

Toby Bjornfoot: (note while third in the reviews I wouldn't read anything into that) Trent spoke very candidly of Toby, his high's were great, but his consistency was maddening. Drawing a direct correlation to his skating drew an indirect correlation to his confidence. Toby's tasks this summer are both physical and mental, but at only 21 years old there's a strong belief he can grow into all of this. The question is with playoff expectations if that's going to have to happen in a 7D spot. Trent specifically called him out to use his skating and take chances so they can move his game forward. They need him to take steps to being a top 4 and appear to be willing to give him some leash. They don't want him as a 5-6.

Matt Roy: Trent re-emphasized that he believes Roy can play both sides, and then immediately mentioned how breaking him back into the lineup on the leftside was unfair and didn't allow him to get his timing back. A strong mea culpa to the fact that Roy is probably limited to the right side and could be in jeopardy to the talent coming up. Still at 27 he's getting to the age where he will get consideration due to his body of work over some of the youngsters until they can replicate some of the physical presence they feel he brings.

Sean Durzi: Trent spoke specifically about how when Durzi first came up he wanted him to play like a number 1 even if he was only getting 10-12 minutes. The fact that his time grew due to circumstances that didn't warrant it without those injuries, the mindset helped him into accepting those minutes. He also complimented his sandpaper ability to get in the heads of opponents and complimented his progression of risk taking. Trent made special point to note that although he sometimes hurt the team, they were willing to accept it due to the progressive way they viewed his game, even at 23. Considering how patient they've been with Roy and Walker I'd say this isn't just talk but a modus operandi they feel is optimized for their coaching.

Maata/Edler: These both read the same, views them as consummate pros and that they know the score with the youngsters coming up. I'd say that Trent was very careful not to speak about next season regarding their contributions for obvious reasons.

Jordan Spence: Trent was clearly most glowing here of the youngsters. Wants him to compete but doesn't really feel like if the progression is as expected there's going to be any surprise. The expected upside is definitely here and is Trent's pick to make the biggest jump next season. For all of you thinking that Clarke and Faber are automatics....well the line got a little longer for them to jump.

In all a great look at how the D is currently viewed and just what kind of expectations are probably set for next season. I'd say the tone of the comments and the belief is that if they had a 100% Drew they feel that the second round was a real possibility and I wouldn't be surprised if that's the mantra for next season. Take the Divisionals. I'd also say that the way that Trent was talking its really clear there's a slotting expectation to get both Drew and possibly another top line player in there. Will be interesting to see who is targeted for that.
 
To me it was Anderson, Durzi and Maata that really stood out last season as well as in the playoffs.

Anderson was clearly getting into McDavid's head which speaks volumes about him, and should continue to improve next season. In the playoffs he was arguably our best overall defense and made a significant impact while showing a complete lack of intimidation going up against some of the best players in the world.

Though I understand the points made in the article, Durzi has possibly more fight in him than any Kings defenseman and despite his weaknesses, which we will likely see more awareness of by opposing teams next season, we really need a player with his spirit out there. I'd expect him to take a step backwards next season while focus is placed on rounding out his game before taking a step forward thereafter.

Maata came in with pretty low expectations from most of us, but turned out to be one of the most solid defenders on the Kings despite his limited speed. In the playoffs I would actually say he was our best defensive defenseman which is pretty crazy as one would think Edmonton would be a team that could take advantage of his shortcomings. He also took a lot of punishment in that series and kept moving forward. Hoping we bring him back next season at a more realistic AAV.
 
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