Still, I can't help it. The big galoot is a fascinating player to me in many different ways.
He's weird-looking, for one.
I mean, look at him:
No person that has ever looked like that has ever gone on to be good at anything. If Douglas Macarthur looked like Dwight King we'd all be speaking Japanese and saluting our fearless God-Emperor before toiling in the rice mines. Dwight King's face is what a penis's face would look like if penises had faces, smile included. He's repulsive.
And then there's Dwight King's game. It's... utilitarian? King is basically good at what the Kings want their players to be good at and literally nothing else. He's good along the boards, he drives to the net, he makes a solid first pass out of the defensive zone, and that's it. That's literally all he can do. Not that he sucks at doing other things: he literally doesn't do other things. It's kind of amazing. He's like one of those guys who can beat Super Mario 2 in 10 minutes; cool, dude, but maybe you could also try playing Sonic or something.
Dwight King scored 13 goals last year. I watched all 13 to determine just how many involved Dwight King was actually involved in scoring. What I mean is, how many goals did Dwight King actually score because he did something to create the play? I decided to look at this by determining that the puck was on Dwight King's stick for more than 1 second within 5 seconds of the goal being scored. I figured if he has it and then passes it and immediately gets it back, he should get credit for that, right? I just wanted to see some measure of talent from our friend Dwight (or, as Bob calls him, "Duh-white").
So, how many goals did Dwight King show some honest to God skill on? Here are his goals:
October 26th, 2014: Jeff Carter passes it to Justin Williams, who enters the zone and shoots the puck at Sergei Bobrovsky. Bobrovsky bounces the puck into the air and no one knows where it is. Dwight King, heading to the net, glimpses the puck as it falls and tries to hit it out of mid-air. He misses. He swings again after the puck has hit the ground and sneaks it in short side. He smiles like a weirdo.
November 6th, 2014: Dustin Brown makes a nifty pass along the boards to King and he shoots it on net. The puck is stopped and around the boards to Jake Muzzin. Muzzin fakes a shot and passes it down to Mike Richards. Richards turns and throws it at the net. It bounces off King and goes in. He whispers into Richards' ear, making him visibly recoil.
December 14th, 2014: Dwight King stops a Maple Leaf from leaving the zone with the puck, puts his head down and crashes the net. He stuffs the puck underneath James Reimer for the goal. This goal was officially assisted by Robyn Regehr and Alec Martinez but it's basically an individual effort for Dwight. What the fuck. DWIGHT KING SKILL ALERT
December 18th, 2014: Dwight is given the puck by Jarret Stoll and flips it in from the red line. It bounces and hops over Martin Brodeur for a goal. Martin Brodeur immediately retires in shame. This is the quintessential Dwight King goal.
January 1st, 2015: Kyle Clifford retrieves the puck from the corner and passes it to Mike Richards in the high slot. Richards shoots it and Dwight, who was crossing the net, stops the puck. He carries it around Ryan Miller and shoots. He somehow misses the first attempt but then scores on his own rebound. It's not quite a second but we'll give it to him. DWIGHT KING SKILL ALERT
January 3rd, 2015: Two goals in one game! Holy fuck!
Goal one: Dwight gives the puck to Anze Kopitar, who brings it from the half-wall to the point and passes it across to Jake Muzzin. Muzzin slap passes it to Dwight, who redirects the puck into the net.
Goal two: Dwight gives the puck to Anze Kopitar, who passes it from the half-wall to Jake Muzzin at the point. Muzzin shoots it and King scores on the rebound. This is a different goal from the first one, I swear.
February 9th, 2015: Jeff Carter carries the puck into the zone with speed. King follows and makes a beeline towards the front of the net. Carter throws it to the middle and it goes off King and into the net. He hugs Tyler Toffoli in violation of the terms of his parole.
February 12th, 2015: Toffoli and Carter work for a solid 10 seconds to score while Dwight searches for open space. Carter gets the puck and passes to a wide-open Dwight in front of the net. Dwight ekes one through Hiller to score. Dwight turns and makes this face:
February 14th, 2015: Jeff Carter works the puck out from behind the net and passes it to Toffoli in the slot. Brayden Holtby sells out to save Toffoli's shot but the rebound gets behind him and Dwight pounds it to the back of the net.
March 28th, 2015: Toffoli blocks an exit attempt by the Wild and passes it to Carter. In a mini two-on-one, Carter passes to a wide open Dwight and Dwight puts the puck in the net.
April 4th, 2015: Jeff Carter steals the puck and splits the D for an uncontested shot. Semyon Varlamov makes the save but the rebound pops directly to Dwight King. He scores.
April 6th, 2015: Dwight & Carter enter the zone with speed on a two-on-two. Carter carries the puck behind the net but then throws it out front. Dwight's stick is tied up but the puck bounces off his stick and into the net.
So there you have it. Dwight King scored 13 goals last season. He showed hockey skill on 2 of them. 2 goddamn goals. Amazing. You'd think Dwight would accidentally skate the puck into the zone and then score, but... nope. He defies the laws of hockey.
Dwight King undoubtedly doesn't have a whole lot of skill, at least at what we'd consider skill. ...So why doesn't he suck more?
You can find the answer by comparing Dwight King to some of the other shitty hockey players on the Kings, Kyle Clifford and Jordan Nolan. King plays the same position as Clifford and has the same body type as Jordan Nolan. King's numbers, both traditional and advanced, have always been way better. But why?
Well, it's like this:
What Dwight King is good at are actually very important.
I said Dwight King is good at 3 things earlier: working along the boards, crashing the net, and making a pass out of his zone. These are all critically important to winning hockey games. You can see with the way the Kings draft and develop that the thing they value the most is winning puck battles along the boards. The Kings' two best forwards of the last few years, Anze Kopitar and Justin Williams, were their two best players at this. The third best is arguably Dwight King. (Toffoli is also very sneaky good at this but King is probably a little better.) The big reason King is more effective than Clifford and Nolan is that, despite their size, they suck along the boards. King is great.
And crashing the net, while not something we interpret as skill, is also critical. I made a whole thing about how Dwight King doesn't touch the puck before it goes in, but honestly: who gives a fuck? If he plants his bulbous ass in front of the net and it bounces off his dick and in, does it count any less? If it didn't take skill, why can't Kyle Clifford do it? Why couldn't Matt Frattin do it? Why didn't Brian Boyle & Matt Moulson figure out how to do it until they were in their late 20's? It's a skill.
Finally, King is very good at one of the more critical but unsung parts of hockey: getting the puck out of the zone. The Kings' system requires a winger to man the half-wall in the defensive zone and provide support to his d-man and center. King is excellent at this. He's patient, he doesn't cheat, and he can protect the puck long enough to allow a teammate to get open for a pass. Seriously, watch him: there's a reason he's not carrying the puck in the zone and it's because he's usually helping out in the defensive zone.
There's another reason King isn't carrying the puck in: he knows he sucks at it. I mean honestly, would you rather King dump it to Tyler Toffoli every single time, even if it puts Toffoli in a tough spot, or would you rather he tried to hero ball it and jack up a horrible shot? He's the anti-Nick Young: he knows what he's good at and does only that. He's... Tyson Chandler? I don't know, basketball isn't really my thing. He's that, though.
Now, there are limitations to Dwight: because of his rather unique skill set, you can't put him with just anyone. The rumored 3rd line of King-Nick Shore-Dustin Brown is basically a cataclysm waiting to happen because both King & Shore are better at moving without the puck than having it on their stick and Dustin Brown is a dumbfuck. It's easy to say that King is better with someone like Kopitar, Williams or Toffoli because, well, everyone is, but I think with King it's... more true. Truer? It's that. If King can be put in a position where he's only in charge of playing defense, working the boards and crashing the net, he thrives. If he has to do anything else, he struggles. It's really that simple.
You can really see that in his numbers last year. When King plays with Jeff Carter or Anze Kopitar, his CF% shoots through the roof. More importantly, so do Carter & Kopitar's. They do the best with the puck on their stick. Dwight King gets them the puck. Even Richards, who by and large sucked last year, did better with Dwight because Richards likes the puck on his stick.
Meanwhile, when King plays with someone like Jarret Stoll, their numbers tank. Why? Because Stoll needs wingers who could handle the puck. (He needed a priest this season because he was biblically terrible this year, but still.) King accentuates good player's skill while exacerbating the skills of bad players. He's a garnish, not a meal.
Dwight King: Trending Up or Trending Down?
Verdict: Trending Up
Yes, things are look up for our boy Dwight. His situation is a little murky at the moment, with the Kings' LW depth chart looking like this:
King would seemingly be in a precarious spot: Lucic & Pearson are clearly better than him and someone like Michael Mersch can probably do most of what King can do in a few years, but I have a feeling things will work out for ol' Dwight.
For one, he's on a great contract that pays him less than $2 million dollars for the next 2 years.
For another, he's seemingly beloved by the rest of the team (it's honestly heart-warming how excited the rest of the team seems to get when this idiot scores a goal). It's dumb but if you have a solid 3rd liner who doesn't cost very much and is liked in the room, why wouldn't you keep him?
Three, he's... good? Yeah, he's good. I think people can get so caught up in what a player can't do after they turn 25 that they don't focus on what they can do. King was a solid 3rd liner on two Stanley Cup-winning teams and is in the midst of his prime. He's the stereotypical Kings player, even more so than Kopitar or Trevor Lewis. He is Kings hockey.
...At least until the Feds show up and seize his computer and all his belongings. Or we all determine that we don't believe in him anymore, causing him to lose his power and vanish. Either or.