Post-season heroes come in all forms from the star player to the unknown fourth-liner. We all know the exploits of the great playoff performers. However, we hardly hear about the unlikely playoff heroes. These unlikely post-season stars can contribute in many ways. Contributions could be for an entire playoff run, a series, a game, or even a goal. These unlikely heroes have made big plays that no one expects. This series looks at all of these unknown stars. These are the unlikely Los Angeles Kings playoff heroes.
Los Angeles Kings Playoff Heroes
Before the Moment
Unlike the majority of NHL players who experience one draft, Jarret Stoll served two entry drafts. The Calgary Flames drafted Stoll in the second round during the 2000 NHL entry draft. Unable to solidify terms with the team, Calgary traded him to the Toronto Maples Leafs. Unfortunately, the fax to NHL headquarters involving Stoll’s contract being signed did not reach the deadline. Jarret Stoll re-entered the 2002 entry draft and was selected by the Edmonton Oilers once again in the second round.
Jarret Stoll would join the Oilers for five seasons, with the 2005-06 season being a career-high for him with 22 goals and 46 points good for 68 points. He and the Edmonton Oilers would advance to the Stanley Cup Finals that season, with Stoll posting 10 points in 24 games. Notably, Stoll would score the double-overtime winner in Game 2 of the series versus the Detroit Red Wings. The 2008 season would see the Los Angeles Kings completed a trade with the Oilers, bringing Stoll to Hollywood. Stoll in his first three seasons would average 18 goals with Los Angeles. In 2011-12 he would register just six goals in 68 games played.
Apart from the astonishing 58 percent of draws won by Stoll and the absurd 15 punishing hits over the course of five games, there was more to the hero’s moment. Jarret Stoll would step out of the shadows in Game 2 against the President’s Trophy winners. What became a wild third period in Game 2, Stoll would score on the power play to give the Kings a 3-1 lead. Although the final score would end 4-2, Stoll’s goal would stand as the game-winner.
Game 5 saw the Kings in a commanding 3-1 series lead, looking to finish off the Canucks. In a dramatic finish, over-time would be a deciding factor of the series. Early in the over-time, Dan Hamhuis would carry the puck out of Vancouver’s zone to turn the puck over at the blue line. Jarret Stoll would find himself facing a 2-on-1 with Dwight King. Rather than passing to King, Jarret Stoll would rip the puck top shelf over Roberto Luongo‘s blocker to clinch the series winner.
With no time to waste after hoisting the Stanley Cup, Stoll and the Kings would agree to a three-year, $9.75 million contract. Unfortunately, Stoll would lack on the score sheet in the 2012-13 post-season run. Making it to the Western Conference Finals, he would produce one lonely point in 12 games. Jarret Stoll would come up with six points while winning the Stanley Cup for his second time in 2014.
On the final contract year between Jarret Stoll and Los Angeles, he would post six goals, and 11 assists for 17 points in 78 games played. He would become a free agent in the summer and signed a one-year deal with the New York Rangers, posting just three points to find himself on waivers. The Minnesota Wild would claim Jarret Stoll putting up six points the remainder of the season. Stoll played four games with Minnesota in the 2016 playoffs and came up empty on the score sheet.
In 2016-17 Stoll attended the Columbus Blue Jackets training camp to secure a PTO tryout, later released in October. In conclusion to Stoll’s NHL career, he is now retired but hasn’t fully stepped away from the game as he has a role with Los Angeles in their player development department.
Before the Moment
Alec Martinez was drafted in the fourth round by the Los Angeles Kings in 2007. In 2008, he made his debut for the Kings’ AHL affiliate, the Manchester Monarchs (Now in the ECHL league). He posted 23 points in 72 games with the Monarchs. In November 2010, the Los Angeles Kings recalled Martinez to the NHL, scoring his first-ever NHL goal on the power-play.
Martinez would play 20 games in the AHL as he would bounce between the Kings and the Monarchs in the 2010-11 season. In 60 games played in the NHL that season he would accumulate five goals and 11 assists for 16 points. Los Angeles would make the playoffs that year with Martinez appearing in all six post-season games, contributing one assist. Eventually, Martinez would earn a two-year, $1.475 million contract with the Kings in the offseason of 2011. Heading into a fresh contract and a full-time role with the Kings, Martinez added 12 points for the 2011-12 regular season.
Alec Martinez would become one of the most memorable players in Los Angeles Kings playoff history inside their franchise. In 2012 he would assist on the game-winner of the Stanley Cup Finals in Game 2. The defencemen would open the scoring of Game 3. The goal would result in his first NHL post-season goal, which concluded as the game-winner. Los Angeles would drop the next two games, nonetheless win Game 6 to capture their first Stanley Cup.
In 2014, the Western Conference Finals between the Chicago Blackhawks and Los Angeles Kings saw seven games. The moment leading up started with Justin Williams grabbing the loose puck in the corner and passing to Martinez. He took a soft wrist shot from the blue line towards Chicago’s net that would hit Nick Leddy and bounce past Corey Crawford. The goal at 5:47 into sudden-death overtime, scored by the Kings defender, would send them to the Finals.
The 2014 Stanley Cup Finals would see five games, the fifth and final game needing extra time. The New York Rangers would fail in favour of two powerplay chances in each over-time. However, Martinez would grab a loose puck in the defending zone and skate up the ice, creating a 3-on-2 rush. He would pass the puck to Kyle Clifford, who then passed to Tyler Toffoli. Toffoli ripping a wrist shot at New York’s goaltender, Henrik Lundqvist which left a juicy rebound heading straight to Martinez. Leaving no room for error, he buried the puck in the net. Lord Stanley would be presented to the Los Angeles Kings for the second time in their franchise.
The unsung hero would spend six seasons with the Los Angeles Kings after winning his second championship. In the offseason of 2016, Los Angeles and Martinez would come to terms on a new deal worth $24 million for six seasons. Martinez would play a full 82-game season for the first time in his professional career in 2016-17. Furthermore, to playing a full season he would capture a career-high of 39 points.
However, Martinez and Los Angeles would part ways during the 2019-20 trade deadline. In a deal with Las Vegas Golden Knights, two 2nd round picks would be sent to the Kings. In the final 10 games of the 2020 season, Martinez combined for eight points in a Knights’ uniform. Alec Martinez would appear in 20 post-season games, scoring two goals and six helpers. The 33-year-old has one year remaining on his contract with Vegas.
Before the Moment
Dustin Penner would go undrafted but find himself in 2004 signing a three-year, entry-level contract with the Anaheim Ducks. He would spend his first year with Anaheim’s AHL affiliate, Cincinnati Mighty Ducks. Making a short appearance in the NHL with Anaheim, he would register seven points in 19 games. Penner would finish the rest of the 2005-06 season down in the AHL with the Portland Pirates, finishing strong with 84 points. In the 2006-07 regular season, Penner would earn himself a full-time roster spot in Anaheim, tallying an impressive 29 goals. Anaheim and the likes of Penner would win the Stanley Cup that season. He tallied three goals and five assists for eight points in the post-season.
Anaheim would struggle with cap issues not able to re-sign the restricted free agent. The Edmonton Oilers would offer sheet Penner $21.25 million in a five-year deal. Anaheim would refuse to match the offer leaving the Oilers to acquire Dustin Penner. The rugged left-winger would record a career-high in the 2009-10 season, posting 32 goals and 31 assists for 63 points. At the 2010-11 trade deadline, Penner’s time in Edmonton would come to an end as the Los Angeles Kings would acquire him.
With Penner joining the Kings after the trade-deadline in 19 games played, he would post six points. The Los Angeles Kings would see post-season action only to lose in the first round of 2010-11. Penner would contribute two points seeing 87 minutes of ice time through the six games. I’m sure Los Angeles expected more from a previous four-time 20 plus goal scorer.
Dustin Penner would have somewhat a disappointing 2011-12 regular season only to register 17 points in 65 games. Although he would make up for his lack of play in the Los Angeles Kings playoffs that saw Penner contributing 11 points. In Game 5 of the Western Conference Finals, the unsung hero would bury a rebound late in the first overtime to defeat the Arizona Coyotes. The Los Angeles Kings would head to the Stanley Cup Finals for the first time in 44 years.
Dustin Penner would become the 21st player to play for both Anaheim and Los Angeles and the first to win a championship with both teams. In the offseason of 2012, after capturing his second Stanley Cup, Los Angeles would extend Penner in a one-year deal worth $3.25 million. Not only would his performance suffer after signing his new deal, but Penner would also suffer from an injury. Los Angeles would treat Penner’s injury as a “lower back spasms” only later to have the player come clean about the truth. #Pennercakes would be a trending joke around the league as he’d come clean about throwing his back out due to a delicious stack of pancakes.
In conclusion, the remainder of Dustin Penner’s NHL career, he would return to Anaheim in 2013 as a free agent, signing a one-year deal worth $2 million. He would have a comeback season posting 32 points in 49 games only to be traded at the deadline to Washington Capitals for a fourth round pick. Penner not meeting expectations would find himself either on the fourth line or scratched. Dustin Penner would call it a career after his season with Washington due to breaking his neck in two places.