The hits keep coming for the Los Angeles Kings, who today lost another player to a relatively long-term injury. Veteran forward Trevor Lewis broke hit foot today at morning skate when he was hit with the puck and is out on a week-to-week basis. The team also announced that Cole Kehler has been recalled given the illness that struck Peter Budaj, but the veteran goaltender is backing up Cal Petersen anyway. For now Kehler will serve as insurance should either get injured or be unable to suit up.
The big news though is Lewis, who while still not a dominating offensive presence is one of the Kings key forwards nonetheless. Averaging just under 14 minutes a night, the 31-year old Lewis had been one of the team’s regular penalty killers and was actually recording positive possession statistics this season. He had just three points in 17 games, but part of that was due to his low shooting percentage—a skill he’s never been particularly good at. Still very effective in his own end, he could be relied on by new head coach Willie Desjardins in tough situations.
Even though this seems as though someone is just beating an already defeated Kings team, perhaps this is an injury that can come with some upside. The big-bodied forward is perhaps a perfect example of how the Kings have deteriorated, as his style isn’t well suited to the new up tempo NHL game. Lewis isn’t an extremely talented skater and doesn’t possess high end puck skills, making him part of the perceived problem in Los Angeles, not the solution. His penalty killing role can immediately be taken over by newcomer Carl Hagelin, though it’s not clear who will get a increased opportunity up front with his absence.
Still, even if Lewis isn’t a world beater at this point the Kings are starting to be stretched extremely thin. Their goaltending situation is extremely troubling, and their forward group simply can’t score enough to keep them in games. Hopefully an injury like this and the recent trade of Tanner Pearson means they can inject some youth and excitement into the lineup, because if not this could end up being a very long year for Kings fans.