This year's postseason has had an interesting feel to it.. On the one hand it should be an unbelievable story that a number eight seed has won the Stanley Cup for the first time, but on the other hand the Kings steamrolled by everyone so easily that it has been almost anti-climatic. No thrilling comebacks or cardiac seven game series from this Kings team. They just beat down everyone in their path like Andre the Giant.
Anytime you win the Stanley Cup in the manner that the Los Angeles Kings did in 2011-12 it is going to take a contribution from many individuals. No team wins hockey's ultimate prize by relying on one player. The addition of Mike Richards and Jeff Carter certainly cannot be overlooked and Jonathan Quick asserted himself as one of the National Hockey League's elite puck stoppers.
Something that didn't receive nearly enough attention though was the depth on the Kings blueline. One such key contributor in the Los Angeles defensive corps this season was Slava Voynov.
The talented young Russian was the main reason GM Dean Lombardi felt ok about shipping Jack Johnson to the Blue Jackets. Voynov played in just 54 games this season, but his production in certain areas were among the best on the team.
An important stat for any defenseman, but especially so for young blueliners is plus/minus. Despite playing in just two-thirds of the Kings games this year, Voynov finished as a plus-12 which was good enough for third on the team.
A great way to earn ice-time as ayoung player is to be sound defensively. The coach is not going to put you out there in important situations if you are a defensive liability, and this can hurt your fantasy production.
A major factor in Voynov’s plus-12 rating was that he only had 30 giveaways in his 54 games.
Another reason Voynov was able to excel in his rookie campaign was due to the fact that he spent threeseasons in the American Hockey League developing his craft. He steadily improved during his time with the Manchester Monarchs, and while the AHL is not at the level that the NHL is, it is often the measuring stick to see when a player is ready to make the leap to the big time.
In 2010-11 Voynov had a huge season with 51 points and a plus-21 rating in 76 games. This no doubt left an impression with Kings brass that he was ready to play at the next level.
Not only did Voynov prove he could put up big offensive numbers with the Monarchs, but in 2010-11 he recorded 189 shots as well. In fact, that total would have been good enough for fourth on the Kings this season. Having a defenseman that can get close to 200 shots is a great value for a fantasy owner.
Speaking of value, Voynov is a great bargain for both the Kings and poolies that participate in leagues with a salary cap. He ranked first on the Kings this season when it came to cap hit per point.
It will be interesting to see what Voynov can do when he has an entire 82 game season to work with. His development may have even been accelerated by this Stanley Cup run with the Kings. Just the pressure of the post-season alone is enough to make a young player learn a thing or two. As a rookie with his talent and potential you would have to think he is only going to get better.