The Los Angeles Kings failed to make the playoffs last year. Just three years removed from winning the Stanley Cup, the team fired their coach and GM. Rob Blake was brought in as GM while John Stevens has become the head coach of the club in an effort to return the team to the post season. The Los Angeles Kings 2017-2018 season preview examines whether the team will fare any better this season under the new management.
The King’s largest pick up during the offseason was the addition of Mike Cammallari. Cammallari played his first three full seasons in the NHL with LA. After spending time with The Calgary Flames, Montreal Canadiens, and New Jersey Devils, the winger is back in the City of Angels. He will look to provide some offense spark on a team that finished 25th in the league in goals scored. Last season the sniper posted 31 points in a season that saw him injured for much of it.
Jeff Carter finished 19th in the league in goals scored with 32 during the 2016-2017 season. Carter led the team in scoring and will be relied upon to produce during 2017-2018. Tanner Pearson also had a solid offensive campaign with 44 points in 80 games played.
Anze Kopitar, one of the leagues best defensive forwards, finished second on the team in scoring with 52 points. The Slovenian also finished with a -10 rating, which is not acceptable for someone who has the talent to be in the discussion for the Selke trophy every year. The Kings will need Kopitar to rebound this season if they expect to make the playoffs.
The Kings will expect more offense out of Tyler Toffoli. Despite having a shortened season due to injury, Toffoli scored at a 0.53 point per game rate compared to 0.71 in the previous season. The Kings offense will rely heavily on Toffoli, Pearson, Kopitar, and Carter to improve the team’s scoring rates.
The Kings defensive corps is lead by Drew Doughty. Doughty logged 27:08 per game of ice time, while posting 44 points last year. Alec Martinez was the next highest scoring defender behind Doughty with 39 points. Along with Doughty and Martinez, Jake Muzzin will be expected to play a large role on the backend. Muzzin had a down year in 2016-2017 putting in a -21 rating along with only 28 points, down from 40 the year prior. The team will need him to get back on track if they want a shot a the postseason.
Derek Forbert should slot into the top four along with Doughty, Martinez, and Muzzin. The big 6’ 4’’ defender had a solid first season in the NHL, finishing tied on the team in plus minus with Doughty at +8. He will be expected to play a shutdown role and eat a lot of minutes for the team.
The King’s blue line gets thinner after their top four. Kevin Gravel and Christian Folin round out the top six. They suited up for 49 and 51 games respectively and have yet to take on larger rolls than depth players.
In net the Kings hope that Jonathan Quick can stay healthy. The former Stanley Cup and Conn Smythe winner was injured in LA’s first game during the 2016-2017 season. Peter Budaj was thrust into the starters role but played very well in Quick’s absence. The Slovak kept LA within playoff contention during his tenure as the Kings number one goalie, posting a .915 save percentage and 2.18 GAA. Upon Quick’s return to the line up Budaj was dealt at the trade deadline to Tampa Bay for Ben Bishop. The Kings did not retain Bishop, electing to trade his negotiating rights to Dallas for a fourth-round pick. To fill the backup roll this year, the Kings picked up Darcy Kuemper from free agency. Kuemper, who has played all 102 of his career games in a Minnesota Wild uniform had a mediocre season backing up Devan Dubnyk last year. The Saskatoon, Saskatchewan native posted a 3.13 GAA and .902 save percentage in 18 games.
Los Angeles Kings 2017-2018 Season Preview: Overall Outlook
The Kings are in a fairly tough division. Anaheim, Calgary, Edmonton, and San Jose all have teams that look good enough to make the post-season. LA will need their offense to produce much better than they did last year to return to the playoffs. Jon Quick will likely need to play outstanding the entire season for LA to even have a chance to make it out of the regular season. The Kings will likely be an in-betweener team, just on the verge of making the playoffs. I would not put my money on them making it there though considering the strength of the Western Conference in general, and because there are four other teams in the Pacific Division that look like playoff caliber teams.
- The Kings will look for Jonathan Quick to stay healthy. Without Quick in net the entire year, it will be difficult for this team to make the postseason.
- Anze Kopitar will look to rebound from his disappointing season last year.
- Should the Kings stay healthy they could compete for a playoff spot, but with the strength of the Western Conference it will be tough for them to make it past April 7th.