When the Los Angeles Kings won the 2012 Stanley Cup, forward Jordan Nolan played in all 20 games as he brought plenty of grit and tenacity to the team’s bottom six forwards. This year the son of Buffalo Sabres head coach Ted Nolan played a mere three playoff games as the Kings captured their second championship in three seasons. Despite his struggles, the Kings owe it to Nolan to give him a “clean slate” when camp opens this fall.
For starters, Nolan is making only $700,000 next season which is a bargain rate even for a fourth liner with a mere 12 career goals. Having such a cap friendly deal on a team that needs all the space it can get in order to remain a contender is an added bonus for the Kings. With teams shelling out more and more to improve their fourth line — the Toronto Maple Leafs gave David Clarkson over $35 million last offseason — getting more “bang for your buck” (pun intended) from checking line forwards can make all the difference.
Nolan also fits the physical brand of hockey Darryl Sutter coaches to a tee as his 6-foot-3, 225-pound frame can be hellish for opposing defensemen when he comes flying in on the forecheck. While his offensive numbers will never be the “bread and butter” of his game, 10-15 points per year to go along with his physicality and tenacity bode well for him and the Kings.
While the “enforcer” role is being phased out of the NHL, Nolan is an adept fighter who has squared off with many of the league’s toughest players and held his own. Having a player who can fight in addition to play a regular shift and contribute to the game in other ways helps the Kings play their pulverizing style of hockey without wasting a roster spot on a “goon”.
When camp opens this fall it would behoove the Kings to keep in mind the good things Nolan brings to the table. While they won the Stanley Cup with him being an almost non-factor, allowing him the chance to crack the roster and possibly expand his game would benefit Nolan and the Kings.