Our Friends in Europe and Lombardi’s Roster Philosophy
I’ve come across a couple things involving former Kings players/prospects and former Monarchs stars Bud Holloway and Oscar Moller. If the names are unfamiliar, Moller actually played for the Kings in 2010-11 including a playoff game against San Jose.
The use of Moller was always a bit mysterious. Despite lacking size, he never played small- he wasn’t afraid to go to the net or use his body to make plays. He was the victim of a couple big hits, but none that caused any unplayable injuries. Despite this, Moller seemed very confident with the puck and on the forecheck- I remember seeing him create more turnovers in one playoff game against San Jose than any other player in the entire series. Most importantly, this was a period which offensive talent was supremely lacking for the Kings (remember praying for the return of Scott Parse?).
At least Moller got his shot, sort of. All Bud Holloway ever did was excel at every level he played and never even saw the press box in Staples Center. Now, they’ve (at least presently) given up on their NHL dreams and are playing for Skellefteå AIK in the Swedish Elite League.
First is an episode of Swedish ‘Cribs’ starring Bud Holloway. It’s pretty hilarious in a subdued Canadian Hockey humor sort of way:
I knew Oscar would make an appearance somehow.
Second is a video from a recent Puck Daddy post of the best goals of the year from the SEL. They didn’t make the actual top 10, but they made back to back plays in the ‘best of the rest’ list (at the 6:06 mark if the link doesn’t automatically start at that timecode):
Last, this is undeniably one of the greatest hockey highlights of all time. It’s a simple little play in which Oscar Moller helps Bud Holloway by retrieving his stick for him- without bending over or even stopping skating:
I don’t know if they practiced that or if Oscar Moller is just a hockey genius. Either way it’s amazing.
Of course it is hard to determine from a few highlights taking place in a league overseas that these players could be successful in the NHL. But the fact that they weren’t at least given a fair shot seems to indicate that Lombardi’s plan for building the Cup winning team in LA was to put together a roster focusing on size and then skill, and all of the recent roster moves have proved as such:
- Acquiring Dustin Penner
- Signing Trent Hunter
- Signing Ethan Moreau
- The call-ups of Dwight King and Jordan Nolan last year
- Shipping Loktionov to New Jersey
- Letting Hickey go via waivers
- Acquiring Jeff Carter, who is the largest among ‘available’ goal-scoring veterans in the last few years
- Acquiring Keaton Ellerby
- Acquiring Robyn Regehr
There are a few exceptions to this: the acquisition of Simon Gagne, who, while not small, does not play a physical game; and the trading of the physical Wayne Simmonds and Brayden Schenn to Philadelphia for the not-large Mike Richards, but if the newly acquired jewelry isn’t enough an explanation for this trade, see this article. Those, however, are the extent of the exceptions.
What is still baffling to this day is why players like Andrei Loktionov, Oscar Moller, Bud Holloway, and Justin Azevedo (now also playing in Europe) even get drafted by the Kings if they were never going to consider giving them full time roster spots in the NHL due to their size? Humans don’t typically grow much taller after age 18 as far as I’m aware.
As far as Holloway and Moller are concerned, it’s fun to see them succeed wherever they are, and it seems like they are having a good time and playing some good hockey, though I’m sure they’d much rather be donning the Black and Silver in LA.
Of course, one can’t imply that management was misguided after seeing the Kings raise the Stanley Cup in 2012, so suffice to say, sour grapes have been fermented and enjoyed.