Out with the old and in with the new.
As the Kings gather for their physicals and conditioning tests Friday at the Toyota Sports Center in El Segundo, in advance of Saturday's opening day of training camp, they might need to wear name tags for the medical staff.
That’s because the organization made wide-ranging additions and subtractions to their forward positions during the offseason, adding speed, skill, leadership and much-needed playoff experience to the team’s core group of talent.
Even more impressive, they may have become younger in the process.
“We only have four guys over 30, which is kind of crazy because we’re considered a very good team,” said center Jarret Stoll, who will turn 30 in June.
The Kings traded away 35-year-old left wing Ryan Smyth, and watched center Michal Handzus, 34, and left wing Alexei Ponikarovsky, 31, leave via free agency.
They did lose some youth up front, as 23-year-old right wing Wayne Simmonds and 20-year-old blue-chip prospect Brayden Schenn were traded to Philadelphia, but the Kings should benefit from what the received in return, Mike Richards, a 26-year-old center who has averaged 28 goals and 70 points the last four regular seasons.
Just as valuable, he led the Flyers to the Stanley Cup Finals in 2010, a destination the Kings have reached just once, back in 1993.
“He knows what it takes,” said Kings center Anze Kopitar, 24, who has led the team in points the last four seasons.
The Kings added three other forwards who have taken the same road to the Stanley Cup Finals.
Simon Gagne, 31, teamed with Richards on the Flyers from 2005 to '10, won a gold medal with Team Canada at the 2002 Winter Olympics and has two 40-goal seasons on his resume.
Ethan Moreau, who will turn 36 this month, went to the finals with Edmonton in 2006, and 26-year-old Colin Fraser was on the Chicago Blackhawks team that knocked off the Flyers last year.
Richards and Moreau are also former team captains, giving the Kings additional leadership qualities in the locker room.
“Those are key players for us,” said 26-year-old team captain Dustin Brown, who is beginning his eighth season with the Kings, the longest tenure of any current player.
Still getting accustomed to his role on the team is another Stanley Cup winner, left wing Dustin Penner, 29, who came to the Kings at the trade deadline three-quarters of the way through last season. Scott Parse, 27, who missed all but five games last season because of a hip injury, is also set to return on the left side.
“It’s almost like picking up a new guy,” goalkeeper Jonathan Quick said of Parse.
Stoll said it’s unusual to have such a large turnover up front, and still upgrade the potential in the process.
“Sometimes you have, maybe, three or four new guys, but they’re younger guys, just cracking the lineup,” he said. “For us, we’ve even gotten younger and I think we’ve gotten better and that’s a [darn] good combo to have.”
Building chemistry will be one of the first items on the agenda, but Brown doesn’t expect that to take much time.
“We’ve all played hockey since we were 4 years old,” he said. “It’s just a matter of talking and figuring it out.”