When we look back at their championship success, it is no secret that the Los Angeles Kings were blessed with exceptional talent from top to bottom. Skilled veterans like Anze Kopitar and Dustin Brown, a defensive stalwart in Drew Doughty and even the key acquisitions of Jeff Carter and Mike Richards all played integral roles in both of the Kings’ Stanley Cup victories. But like in most situations, a championship team needs help from their unsung heroes, and the Kings received just that in 2012 and 2014. On Saturday, the silver-and-black re-signed arguably their most crucial unsung hero to a brand new four-year deal.
Just days into his new job, Dean Lombardi entered the 2006 NHL Draft with a purpose. Already poised to put his rebuilding plan in place, the new Kings GM got right to work. That unfortunately included the trading of a very popular player in, rest his soul, Pavol Demitra. He was traded to Minnesota for Patrick O’Sullivan, who had a couple of good years in Los Angeles. The Kings also received the Wild’s first-round pick that year which, while it wasn’t evident at the time, turned out to be a significant piece to their championship puzzle. With the pick, the Kings selected a 19-year-old center from Salt Lake City, Utah, by the name of Trevor Lewis.
After a patient progression in the minors, Lewis made the Kings on a full-time basis. But while his 89 points in 424 career games with the silver-and-black wouldn’t impress many, it is not his scoring touch that makes Trevor Lewis so invaluable to the Kings and their success.
While he may not block a plethora of shots or dish out a ton of hits, Trevor Lewis’s work on the penalty kill has made the Kings one of the better teams in the league when shorthanded.
From 2010 to 2014, the silver-and-black averaged a superb PK rating of 84.7 per cent, helping to turn one of the more hapless teams in hockey into a championship winner in a short period of time. However, the Kings’ penalty kill has dipped a bit in recent years as, after amassing an 83.1 rating in 2013-14, the silver-and-black dropped to 80.9 in 2014-15. In fairness, though, the latter season saw the Kings suffer from a depleted defensive corps. From Willie Mitchell‘s off-season departure to Slava Voynov‘s exile to a slew of injuries, the Kings just could not keep up the same way they had in previous years. Lewis, however, remained a constant as he quietly remained his team’s silver lining on a penalty-killing unit that had fallen on harder times.
Thankfully for the Kings, their PK improved this past season — albeit slightly — to 81.4 per cent and, again, while the likes of Kopitar, Doughty and even Milan Lucic were given the brunt of the limelight, Trevor Lewis continued to quietly earn his keep, helping to lead the silver-and-black to a franchise-record 48 regular season wins.
Over the course of the past few seasons, while some haven’t been as courteous to give him a second thought, many more fans have slowly but surely began to appreciate what Trevor Lewis brings to the table. For a defense-first team, there are few Kings more valuable than a defense-first player. Trevor Lewis fits that bill as his efforts, while unheralded to a large extent, have brought championship success to a Los Angeles Kings team which, just a few years prior, would have seemed like nothing more than a pipe dream.
At four years and $8 million, the Kings not only retain a quality player for his skill but at a considerable discount as well. After all, the old adage of defense winning championships has been proven in other sports but it may not be any more prevalent than it is in hockey.
The Los Angeles Kings have their blue-collar, lunch-pail talent who, if they hope to return to championship form, will do so with Trevor Lewis in full tow, quietly but surely restoring the epitome of success in the City of Angels.