Sometimes things fall into place and sometimes you get a little help. Sometimes you get a bit of both, and that seems to be what is happening right now with Kings camp invitee Devin Setoguchi.
2005, the year in which Setoguchi was taken 8th overall, seems like a different lifetime. It probably feels the same for the Shark draft pick. He has had a wild career arc that has included a World Junior silver medal with Canada, a breakout 30 goal sophomore NHL season, before slowly hitting a decline that would send him to four different teams, a fierce personal battle with addiction, and a trip overseas to focus himself.
Now, Setoguchi is back, and despite being an extreme longshot coming into camp he has a pretty darn good shot to earn a contract given his level of play and the depth chart opportunity that has arisen with the injury to Marian Gaborik.
It is odd to think Setoguchi was drafted the same year as Anze Kopitar, three picks prior to Anze no less. So when the Kings signed him to a PTO after his decent 2015-16 season in Switzerland with HC Davos, there was hope that tread is still on the tires and spark is still on the shot.
He at least proved the latter to a degree after he unloaded a bomb against the Ducks in the Kings September 28th preseason victory.
For Setoguchi it has been a long, and now well documented road of recovery, reclamation, and personal responsibility. Two years ago he got a "Last chance" with Calgary where he stayed sober for "A couple of weeks".
In the same Luke Fox SportsNet article the above quote came from (Which can be read here)
Setoguchi also added he had gone to rehab in April of last year. He was subsequently cut by the Maple Leafs in the ensuing 2015-16 training camp and went to Switzerland and put up 24 points in 30 games with HC Davos. A scoring rate that would have been around 3rd on the team had he completed a full season.
Back again, in a similar position to after his glory years, Setoguchi has a chance. Another last chance. However this time around he is boosted by 18-month sobriety, a marriage, a great attitude, and a year of decent level, consistent, professional hockey under his belt. While it is hard to imagine him rekindling his 20-30 goal years of San Jose, at 29 there is reason to have hope that the winger can have an impact on the Kings roster given the changes for him personally over the last year and a half.
As much as Setoguchi has created this opportunity for himself with overcoming his own personal demons and battling addiction, the injury to Marian Gaborik created an almost too perfect opportunity for him.
The Kings, already trying to fill a gap internally with the loss of Milan Lucic, now have to deal with a potentially lengthy absence of Marian Gaborik, who will miss eight weeks with a foot injury suffered during the World Cup. The Kings brought in Teddy Purcell this offseason in order to shore up right wing depth, but the loss of Gaborik hurts right up at the top. With Gaborik slated to play top line minutes alongside Anze Kopitar to start the year, the Kings are now left with a right wing group that may only include Brown, Toffoli, Purcell, Jordan Nolan and new guy Michael Latta. With Brown switching off to left wing in some pre-season games already to help bolster THAT side, it looks like the Kings are trying out all angles here and specifically giving Setoguchi a long look. While many scoffed (myself included) at the idea of the former Shark making the Top 6 out of Kings camp, it seems all the more real as we move deeper into camp.
The first real major round of cuts from the Kings camp came monday, and Setoguchi was not among them.
Here is the full list of camp cuts for the record:
Andrew Crescezni (Waivers)
Peter Budaj (Waivers)
Vincent Loverde (Waivers)
Jack Campbell (Waivers)
All four of which have cleared
Damir Sharpizianov, Alex Litnuniemi, Austin Wagner, Erik Cernak and Zach Leslie had all been cut previously. Sharipzianov was particularly impressive and did generate a little buzz during his camp time.
Zach Trotman was also placed on waivers today
He looked fairly hesitant in his game time with the Kings, and the team is probably hoping he can get better adjusted to the system and structure in Ontario. We talked with Zach and Michael Latta about their adjustment to the Kings recently
There are no surprises amongst the cut lists, however Adrian Kempe is staying up with the team for an extended look. Kempe, who played almost all of last year on the wing, has been taking shifts at center with Dustin Brown and Devin Setoguchi during games. The trio have looked pretty effective through preseason. Thomas McCollum, a goaltender with the Detroit organization last year, has remained but the likelihood of him getting a contract is significantly less with Peter Budaj safely landing in Ontario. Defenseman Kurtis MacDermid has also remained up after impressive, and of course physical, performances with the Kings in preseason.
Ontario Reign camp commences today.
The Kings will have a week off of practices before playing two more preseason games this weekend in Las Vegas as part of the final Frozen Fury before the Las Vegas Knights who say Ni take over next season. Setoguchi will likely again get a lengthy look as the Kings try to trim their roster further. Does he earn himself a contract? He has certainly had a good showing thus far. He also carries with him an inspiring story that no matter your faults or past transgressions you can right your ship with hard work.
It will be a slow week with few preseason games but plenty of talking points as the season begins for Los Angeles in just 11 days.
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