If there’s one spot, other than goaltending of course, that the Los Angeles Kings didn’t need to change anything in, it’s on the blue line. With a solid group of blue liners, the Kings are as strong defensively as any club in the league, and it could be even better in 2012-2013.
Slava Voynov didn’t spend the entire season with the Kings last year, but he managed to make an impact nonetheless. After toiling for four years in the minor leagues, and even contemplating a move back to Russia, Voynov played just 15 games for Manchester before spending 54 and the playoffs with the Kings.
Voynov finished with 20 points on the year in his 54 games in the regular season. He logged regular minutes and contributed some on the power play as well.
At just a shade under six feet, Voynov isn’t the biggest guy on the ice. But he’s smart defensively and can play the physical game if he has to, with 74 hits in 54 games last year. He’s also getting smarter defensively as he sees more ice time.
Being his first taste of NHL action, Voynov didn’t really blow anyone away and was nothing more than steady on the blue line for the Kings. But this season could very well end up propelling him to have a very nice season in 2012-13. It might even be a breakout year for the 22-year-old.
His first full action at the highest level resulted in a Stanley Cup. Not only was Voynov along for the ride, he played consistent minutes for this team and appeared in all 20 postseason games for the Kings this spring and summer. That should have his confidence level sky high heading into the new season.
It might not be instant, but Voynov could establish himself as one of the better young defensemen in the National Hockey League by the time the 2012-2013 campaign is all said and done.