When I first heard his name, it was nearly fifteen years ago when he was a multiple representative of Team Canada at the World Juniors before being drafted by the Calgary Flames 46th overall in 2000. However, he re-entered the draft two years later to be drafted 36th overall by (to the disgust and dismay of Flames management) the Edmonton Oilers. But what was Calgary’s loss was Edmonton’s gain and ultimately, what was Edmonton’s loss became Los Angeles’ gain.
I am referring to none other than Jarret Stoll who was acquired by the Kings in June 2008 and, like the deals that brought Justin Williams and Trevor Lewis (err, the pick the Kings used to draft him) to the Golden State, I was initially unhappy with the trade thinking primarily about the player Los Angeles had dealt away.
Having gotten his name on my Kings jerseys just months before and even wearing No. 17 when I played hockey myself, I was upset that Kings management had to part ways with Lubomir Visnovsky. But from watching a lot of Oilers games (especially during their Stanley Cup run in 2006), I knew very well what the Kings were getting in return: a bruising, fearless defenseman by the name of Matt Greene and one Jarret Stoll, who had plenty to offer any team.
From his explosive skill in the faceoff circle to his timely goals to his ability to step up his game in the playoffs, Jarret Stoll had plenty to bring the table when he arrived in Los Angeles. For his promotional campaign prior to the 2009-10 season for the rebuilding club, Stoll said that he didn’t come to Los Angeles for the beaches – and he backed that up.
After registering 41, 47 and 43 points respectively in his first three seasons with the Kings, the native of Melville, Saskatchewan in 2011-12 scoring a career-low with six goals and tying a career-low in points with 21. Of course, in all fairness, most Kings felt a drop in production during that offensively-anemic campaign.
During the playoffs, though, Stoll came to life with the rest of his team. While he did only register five points in 20 games that spring, Stoll took his veteran leadership and helped put his team on a higher level which included a crucial overtime (and series) winner against heavily-favoured Vancouver in the opening round. While the goal did clinch Los Angeles’ first series win since 2001, the team’s momentum soared sky-high as the Kings went on to win 12 of their next 15 games to capture their first-ever Stanley Cup crown.
Fast-forward to last season where Stoll played in all 48 regular season games for the Kings. During that time, the former Memorial Cup winner with the WHL’s Kootenay Ice scored a modest seven goals and 11 assists. But like the season before, it wasn’t his stats that made Jarret Stoll stand out in Los Angeles.
During the lockout-shortened season of 2013, the 31-year-old did what he did best: win the important faceoffs as he had a percentage of 56 per cent in the dot which not only led his team but found himself in the Top 10 in the entire league.
In addition, opponents felt the wrath of Jarret Stoll’s 6’1, 213-pound frame as the veteran joined Dustin Brown as the only two Kings forwards to reach triple digits in the hits department last season. While his 107 hits paled in comparison to Brown’s total of 156, Stoll still nonetheless let his presence be left and had opponents feeling confused when he hit the ice. Would he beat them in the faceoff circle, with a bone-crunching hit or a beautiful set-up play for the goal? None of the opposition knew and quite frankly, Jarret Stoll and the rest of the Kings liked it that way.
Unfortunately, the Kings got sidetracked a little during this past spring’s postseason when Jarret Stoll was on the receiving end of a controversial hit that left him sidelined with a concussion. While they did regroup and made it to the Western Final, the Kings had a harder time with their opposition than they did the previous spring.
Entering the 2013-14 season however, Jarret Stoll should be ready to go despite his setback a few months earlier. At 31, Stoll is by no means nearing the end of his career. Heck, he’s not even in the same vicinity as far as I’m concerned. So, with that said, expect a lot from Jarret Stoll this season. If he contributes in a significant way offensively, that would be great – but not the end of the world if doesn’t. Stoll has mastered work in the faceoff circle like few others have and if he needs to lay out a devastating hit to light a fire under his team, No. 28 will make no reservations in doing just that.
If the Los Angeles Kings have a Jack-of-All-Trades-type player, Jarret Stoll’s name would fit that bill, although he isn’t the only King to fall under said category. Nevertheless, Stoll brings so much to the table that it really is hard to imagine a Kings team without his services.
I am as excited about the upcoming season as anyone and Jarret Stoll is, without a doubt, a big reason for that.