Devin Setoguchi’s battle with addictions made his fight back to an NHL tryout with the Los Angeles Kings an inspirational story, but Setoguchi’s comeback tale doesn’t look as though it will end with training camp coming to a close and the regular season approaching.
With rosters set to be finalized Tuesday, it appears as though Setoguchi, 29, has earned himself a spot with the Kings to start the 2016-17 campaign. While no deal has been signed yet, LA Kings Insider’s Jon Rosen reported Monday that the Kings and Setoguchi are working on a contract.
“I started this chance on a comeback last year, worked into this year, knew coming into camp that there was $57,000 in cap space…So for things to work out in the right way and for me to get my opportunity, it’s not like I’m here and I’m here to stay,” Setoguchi said, according to Rosen. “It’s still, for me, an everyday evaluation on my attitude, my work ethic, my play, my ability, so I’m just thankful to be here, but at the same time I know how important and how critical it is for me to push myself every day in order to get back.”
Setoguchi’s road back to the NHL began during the 2015-16 campaign, a season he spent playing with Switzerland’s HC Davos. In 30 games with the Swiss NLA club, Setoguchi potted 11 goals and 24 points, and that was enough for him to at least earn a look from the Kings come training camp.
It’s not as if Setoguchi blew the doors off the pre-season — he managed one goal and two points in five games — but a combination of his skill set and the injuries the Kings are dealing with helped him land the spot, namely the broken foot Marian Gaborik suffered at the World Cup of Hockey.
Gaborik’s injury may not have only helped Setoguchi land a contract, though. Rosen reported Monday that Setoguchi skated with Anze Kopitar and Dustin Brown in practice, and it’s possible that Setoguchi could find himself as a first-line winger come the start of the campaign. If that’s the case, he’ll have every opportunity to hit the ground running, but he understands a lot will be expected of him.
“You’re going to get the opportunity to play, and it’s what you do with it that makes you and your game,” Setoguchi said, according to Rosen. “Obviously they’re both really highly talented players, and I’m thankful to be in the position I’m in right now, but I can’t get complacent or take things for granted.”
Kings coach Darryl Sutter echoed that sentiment when it came to Setoguchi’s game. Sutter said he was excited for Setoguchi and happy to see him succeed in this situation, but proving himself each game was the only way to really stick around.
“It’s strictly going to be a day-to-day, game-to-dame thing, that’s clear,” Sutter said, according to Rosen. “For me, it was no different evaluating him than it was players that we needed to be better than they were last year.”
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