An incredibly stingy defense was one of the primary strengths of the Los Angeles Kings last season, leading the franchise to its first ever Stanley Cup title. But with injuries to key members on the blue line this season, the team has struggled to find consistency in its own zone.
After ranking second in the NHL defensively last season, allowing an average of just 2.07 goals per game, Los Angeles is currently 22nd in the league through nine games, surrendering an average of 3.00 goals per game in 2013.
Injuries to key veteran defensemen Willie Mitchell and alternate captain Matt Greene have left a pair of young and inexperienced blueliners in Davis Drewiske and Jake Muzzin to try and fill the void for the defending champs. Drewiske, 28, and Muzzin, 22, had played in just 117 NHL games coming into the season, and neither has quite the size that both Mitchell (6-3, 205) and Greene (6-4, 235) provide on the back end. The defense is beginning to reveal its vulnerabilities, while neither Drewiske nor Muzzin have really shown enough to fortify their place in the Kings' lineup.
At 6-5, 216 pounds, Ellerby will bring some much-needed size to the teams' defense, and will likely be given an ample opportunity to prove himself while Mitchell and Greene remain out.
Before earning himself a roster spot in Florida, Ellerby played 150 games over three seasons with the Rochester Americans of the AHL (American Hockey league), posting 11 goals, and 36 assists.
The Kings traded prospect Andrei Loktionov to the New Jersey Devils on Wednesday in a deal that brought them a fifth-round pick in the 2013 draft. The team turned right around and flipped that same fifth-round pick to acquire Ellerby from the Panthers on Friday.
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