The 2013 season didn’t end the way the Los Angeles Kings would have liked, but they had a much more successful title defense than the Stanley Cup champions of the last several years did, in advancing to the Western Conference Finals. Part of the reason they were able to do so was due to the play of Slava Voynov.
Voynov had a true breakout season. A player that was stuck down in the minors, and then with inconsistent playing time, there was a point in his career where Voynov considered going back over the Russia to play in the KHL. He’s a far cry from that point these days.
This summer, the Kings had one top priority, above all else, which was to get Voynov locked up on a new contract, given his status as a restricted free agent. They were able to do so with a lucrative contract, which is for six years and $25 million. The money involved was actually a touch lower than what was initially expected, given his strong playoff performance.
Early on this season, though, Voynov has found himself in a bit of a funk. There’s little doubt that at least some of those struggles are related to the long term deal he signed this summer. Through eight games, he has three points, two of which didn’t come until the Kings’ most recent two games.
There’s no doubt that the beginning of this season is a bit of an adjustment, both mental and physical, for Voynov. He has to get in the right state of mind after getting that new paper, in addition to the fact that he’s adjusting to a central role with the Kings on the blue line.
He’ll snap out of it eventually. This is one of the game’s better young defenseman, and is capable of contributing in all areas for Los Angeles. It’s only a matter of time before he’s putting pucks in the net and getting that plus/minus back into the positive.