A 30-goal scorer in the NHL at the age of 22, Devin Setoguchi was well on his way to stardom once upon a time. But a steady decline in his on-ice performance coupled with a well-documented problem with alcohol derailed his once promising hockey career. Now completely sober, Setoguchi is in camp with the L.A. Kings and according to Elliot Teaford of the Los Angeles Daily News, the 29-year-old forward is taking full advantage of what well could be his last opportunity to make an NHL roster.
Steoguchi, who the Kings signed to a PTO earlier this month, has impressed the Kings coaching staff with the “energy and effectiveness” that is reminiscent of his early days playing for the Sharks, opines Teaford. And while the Kings may not expect Setoguchi to again score 20 or more goals in a single season at this level, there is a real opportunity for him to make the roster and contribute. The Kings lost LW Milan Lucic to free agency while Marian Gaborik injured his foot at the World Cup and is set to miss the start of the 2016-17 season. Even if it’s in a bottom-six role, Setoguchi can add quality depth to the Kings lineup if he continues to play with energy.
Kings assistant coach John Stevens had this to say about Setoguchi:
“You have to give him a lot of credit.” He was out of the league for a little bit and I didn’t know what to expect, but to his credit he came here in a very good condition and was ready to go and wanted to put his best foot forward to win a position on the squad. I think for me it’s exciting to see that, just coming in here prepared.”
“He’s going to give himself a good chance to perform well, so it’s good to see.”
Whether Setoguchi will make an impact with the Kings in 2016-17 and possibly jump start his NHL career remains to be seen. But at the very least, it appears as if he has his life in order again.
Elsewhere regarding position battles in the Pacific Division:
- When James Reimer signed lucrative contract this summer to become the Florida Panthers new backup goalie, the Sharks were left searching for his replacement. As Curtis Pashelka of The Mercury News writes, it appears as if 27-year-old journeyman netminder Aaron Dell is the front-runner to earn the #2 position behind incumbent starter Martin Jones. Dell, who played collegiate hockey for the University of North Dakota, suited up for five different professional teams prior to signing with the Sharks organization in March of 2015. He finished with 17 wins, a GAA of 2.42 and a save % of 92.2 in 40 appearances for the San Jose Barracuda of the AHL during the 2015-16 season. Troy Grosenick represents Dell’s competition for the position. The two shared duties with the Barracuda a year ago with Grosenick’s numbers – 3.16 GAA, 89.4% Save % – inferior to those posted by Dell. Of the pair, Grosenick is the only goalie with any NHL experience, albeit with just two appearances with the Sharks in 2014-15.
- Last season, Freddie Hamilton assisted on a goal by his brother, Dougie, becoming the first set of siblings to appear on the same line on the score sheet. As Wes Gilbertson of the Calgary Sun writes, Freddie would like that to be the first time of many for the brothers. While Dougie is a big-ticket player for the Flames and assured of a spot among Calgary’s top four blue liners, Freddie will have to earn regular ice time as a forward. The elder Hamilton brother recently inked a two-year, one-way contract with the club but as GM Brad Treliving noted, “Last year, we had players on one-way contracts that were making good money that went to the minors. I think all the players know that there is still the make-the-team portion of this, and that’s no different for Freddie or anybody.” Hamilton appeared in just four games with the Flames in 2015-16 and has only 33 career games of NHL experience. Hamilton’s chances of making the club could hinge largely on whether the team elects to keep Matthew Tkachuk on the roster or return the 2016 first-round pick to juniors. If Tkachuk makes the team it would likely push more accomplished players down the depth chart and leave little room for Hamilton.
- The Anaheim Ducks may be deep on defense but they have a couple of openings up front with plenty of competition for those spots. As Eric Stephens of the Orange County Register writes, veteran forwards David Booth, David Jones and Sean Bergenheim are in camp with Anaheim, trying to convert a PTO into a guaranteed deal. All three have achieved a fair amount of success in this league but have struggled in recent seasons, with Booth and Bergenheim each failing to land an NHL job in 2015-16. Jones, on the other hand, scored 11 goals in 75 games between Calgary and Minnesota.