Like every training camp, it’s a given for fans to wonder what their team’s going to look like when the regular season starts.
For fans of the Los Angeles Kings, they got most of their answer on Tuesday and while promising prospects like Adrian Kempe and Michael Mersch will be starting the year in the AHL, there was one player in particular who did make the cut whom fans might very well become extra invested in.
Arriving to camp on a professional tryout, Devin Setoguchi has been nothing short of impressive for the Los Angeles Kings thus far. He played so well that on Tuesday, the Kings rewarded the 29-year-old with a one-year, two-way contract worth $575,000, according to Jon Rosen of LA Kings Insider.
As talented a player as Setoguchi is, though, his issues off the ice have been well-documented, especially in a piece last month written by Kevin Pollak of The Hockey News.
In the article, Pollak discusses the issues that the native of Taber, Alberta, has had to deal with, including alcoholism, substance and depression.
Setoguchi, who was drafted eighth overall by the San Jose Sharks in 2005 celebrated an auspicious start with the club, netting 31 goals and adding 34 assists in 2008-09, his first full NHL season. He would go on to notch 20 and 22 goals respectively in his next two seasons in San Jose before being traded (with Charlie Coyle) to the Minnesota Wild in exchange for the ever-popular Brent Burns in June 2011. Setoguchi would spent the next two seasons with the Wild – with a brief stay with the ECHL’s Ontario Reign in between – before moving on to Winnipeg, then Calgary, then Switzerland over the course of the next three seasons.
While giving him a chance despite his personal issues certainly make the Kings look good, this is by no means a charity signing. Setoguchi’s issues certainly make him more human and someone fans can identify with on a personal level, but after the former Saskatoon Blade scored a goal and two assists in the preseason, Setoguchi has shown that he earned his way here. The injury to Marian Gaborik certainly played a factor but nonetheless, Setoguchi has proven that he deserves another shot at the NHL level and soon enough, we will just how he fares with the Kings moving forward.
In reference to said personal issues, this writer can certainly identify – to a degree, at least — with Devin Setoguchi. Having had depression for many years, Setoguchi is a sentimental favourite of this writer’s entering the new season. More on that later, though.
For the time being, Setoguchi’s signing is, for all intents and purposes, an extension of his training camp. Given that his new deal is one of the two-way variety, the 29-year-old understands that he could be reassigned to Ontario at any time.
“It’s still, for me, an everyday evaluation on my attitude, my work ethic, my play, my ability, so I’m just thankful to be here, but at the same time I know how important and how critical it is for me to push myself every day in order to get back,” Setoguchi told Jon Rosen of LA Kings Insider.
Personally speaking, even though he did play with one of the Kings’ most heated rivals, this writer can safely admit that he was a fan of Devin Setoguchi’s when he was a member of the San Jose Sharks. Yet, while he hasn’t had the same success he did in later years, this writer, in addition to many others, are hoping that being in Los Angeles will provide a sense of resurgence for the journeyman.
In 30 games for HC Davos last season, Setoguchi scored 11 goals and added 24 points. We will see just how Setoguchi fares in his return to the National Hockey League but until then, congratulations are in order for turning a PTO into a well-earned contract.