I've admitted that I have a weakness when it comes to the Western Conference - basically I don't (edit: can't without Center Ice which I can't afford) really watch much of it or know all the players. But I definitely wasn't the only Caps fan saying "Who?" when it was announced that the Capitals traded (Ed. note: *sniffle*) prospect Stefan Della Rovere to the St. Louis Blues in exchange for D.J. King. So for all those Caps fans who were wondering who the heck this D.J. King is, I've compiled some information, much in the style of my "Focus on Prospects" posts. Just to help Caps fans get acquainted and know what to expect. Here we go...
Name: Dwayne "D.J." King
Weight: 230 lbs
Weight: 230 lbs
Hometown: Meadow Lake, Sask.
Based on popular opinion, there's no question over what King's role is on a hockey team: he's a fighter. A Donald Brashear 2.0 if you will - obviously younger than Brash at 26, but big, tough, and willing to drop the gloves with the toughest guys in the league. In fact, he's already dropped the gloves with, well, all the toughest guys in the league. Blues fans have pointed most often to his regular bouts with Derek Boogaard pretty much every single time the Blues met the Wild (and now with Boogaard also joining the East as a New York Ranger, their bouts can continue). A notable fight with Boogaard is below, and is one of the longer hockey fights I've seen, as well as covering about half the ice:
He's also regularly matched up with Ducks tough guy George Parros (three times alone in the 2007-08 season). King has even traded blows with... John Erskine? In the 2003 preseason (a year after King was drafted), Erskine was with the Dallas Stars. In a preseason game against the Blues, King and Erskine got into it, and King dropped Erskine with a heavy right hook.
All right, so the guy can fight. Anything else? Well, not really. But that's why he's a fourth-line guy. King started out his career playing in the WHL with the Lethbridge Hurricanes. While there, his stats very much mirror Matt Bradley's current NHL stats - usually averaging around 12 goals a season. He hasn't scored much more than 1 goal a season since being in the NHL, though that's not his job. Hockey's Future says he can be a "fourth-liner in the NHL when his team is in need of some muscle." He doesn't have much of an offensive prowess but can "bang in the occasional goal." Not that we would need another power forward with the likes of Ovechkin, Backstrom, and Semin.
And "muscle" is something that the Capitals need - the Caps have been without a proven fighter since the departure of Donald Brashear, aside from the occasional fights courtesy of Matt "Paper Skin" Bradley, and to a lesser extent, Jason Chimera. This has been a bit of a weak spot for the Caps - without a tried and true enforcer, guys like Mike Green, Alexander Semin, and Nicklas Backstrom have had a target on their backs (targets that have gotten Green and Semin injured in the past). It's important to note in the above video that in the scrum, King seems to be coming to the defense of his teammate Weaver, who was boarded a bit after the whistle. Case in point: after the trade, King was told about Max Talbot's recent comments on Ovechkin, and King responded:
"Wow. I guess that’s not going to be happening too much longer, I guess."
In summary, King is huge, physical, and protects his teammates. While he's not exactly a 2C or the defensive defenseman that the Caps still need, he is filling a role that has been missing in the past. He's had major problems with injuries, but seems to be recovered from his latest, and is fresh off a conditioning stint in Peoria. He should be right at home on a tough forechecking line with Bradley and David Steckel. It's tough to say how well he's going to do in an offense-loaded system as is typical to the East, but let's just say that training camp should be very interesting.