If it’s not broke, don’t fix it right? If you look below,
the Los Angeles Kings did not make many moves this offseason, but after winning
the 2013-14 Stanley Cup and only losing Willie Mitchell, why change what worked
Adam Cracknell – RW Willie
Mitchell – D
David Van Der Gulik – LW Andrew
Campbell – D
It was not an offseason addition, but their biggest signing
this summer was locking up Marian Gaborik for seven-years with an annual
cap-hit of $4.9 million ($34.3 million total). The Kings traded for Gaborik at
last season’s trade deadline and it turned out to be a great decision and may
have been the move that ultimately earned them the Stanley Cup. After posting
16 points in 19 regular season games, it was his 14 goals and eight assists (22
points) in 26 playoff games that made giving up Matt Frattin and two draft
picks well worth it.
The Kings have a plethora of talent up-and-down their
roster. Up front Gaborik will likely play with Anze Kopitar to start the season
and that duo has already proved to be dynamic. Gaborik has seven seasons of at
least 30 goals and Kopitar has five seasons of at least 40 assists and 70
points. But that is just the beginning for the Kings. They also have Jeff Carter, Dustin Brown, Justin Williams and young talent like Tyler Toffoli and
Tanner Pearson… It is no surprise they are the defending champs. Despite all
that talent, they rarely rank near the top of the league in goals because they
play such a strong two-way game. No one will light up the league leaders page,
but there will be consistent numbers across the board.
Drew Doughty is the leader on the blueline. He is excellent
at both ends of the ice. He has played at least 24 minutes a game in every
season since his rookie year and finished tied for seventh in the NHL with six
power-play goals and 3:53 power-play TOI per game. Learning under Doughty is
Slava Voynov, 24, and Jake Muzzin, 25. Voynov has not missed a game in the last
two seasons while averaging 38.35 points per 82 games. Muzzin had a career-year
with 24 points, but saw his goal production slip from the shortened season (7
to 5). Both play productive two-way games with tremendous offensive upside.
Muzzin can fire the puck, while Voynov would benefit from sending more rubber
at the net.
The Kings’ most important player is Jonathan Quick. To no
ones surprise, Quick was stellar last season despite missing two months with a
groin strain. He finished the season with a 2.07 GAA and .915 SV%, which is
what we have come to expect out of Quick. Over the last three seasons he has
gone 80-51-21 with a 2.10 GAA, .919 SV% and 17 shutouts. In comparison, Rask
was 66-33-14 with a 2.02 GAA, .929 SV% and 15 shutouts while Lundqvist was
96-58-13 with a 2.13 GAA, .925 SV% and 15 shutouts over the same three-year
span. Rookie Martin Jones, 24, was great as well. He went 12-6-0 with a 1.81
GAA, .934 SV% and four shutouts has the Kings’ backup.
Season prediction: The Kings finish first in the Pacific
Division and battle for the Presidents Trophy.
View the Kings’ entire roster and cap space heading into the 2014 – 2015 season
Other team previews: Anaheim Ducks, Arizona Coyotes, Boston Bruins, Buffalo Sabres, Calgary Flames, Carolina Hurricanes, Chicago Blackhawks, Colorado Avalanche, Columbus Blue Jackets, Dallas Stars, Detroit Red Wings, Edmonton Oilers, Florida Panthers