The Los Angeles Kings have made a number of organization changes as of late, naming John Stevens as their new head coach in April and shuffling the deck in the front office to include Rob Blake as general manager and Luc Robitaille as club president.
On the ice, the Kings will look largely the same. The addition of Mike Cammalleri is the most noticeable move, but the lion’s share of improvement will have to come from within. Los Angeles has faith in its group and made the necessary shifts in coaching as a result. Pierre Turgeon is part of that shift, joining the unit as offensive coordinator.
If the Kings can get their ducks in a proverbial row, they’ll ice a solid hockey team in 2017-2018. And if they can get good hockey out of Anze Kopitar and a full season out of Jonathan Quick, they’ll be back in the post-season.
But if not, the front office won’t be the only thing shuffled next time.
Kopitar is still the Kings’ top draw down the middle. He gives them a serious offensive threat, even if he did slip in 2016-2017. The 29-year-old posted just a dozen goals and 40 assists in 76 games last season, a 22-point drop from his 2015-2016 production. He also posted his worst points-per-game average and worst shooting percentage in his career last season, so you can bet he’ll want to bounce back in a big way.
If Kopitar had an off year, Jeff Carter had an “on” year. The Ontario-born centre had 32 goals in 82 games and came up with a total of 66 points, averaging 18:01 of ice time a game and cracking off 250 shots on goal. He produced 22 points on the power play and put together his best season since hitting 66 points in 2010-2011 with the Flyers.
Tyler Toffoli had a knee injury that limited him to just 63 games and he had minor surgery in the off-season, but all signs suggest he’ll be ready for camp. His production slid last season, especially after the injury, but the Scarborough native is still a threat on the wing. He had 34 points last season and four power play goals.
Tanner Pearson saw his stats swing upward in 2016-2017 and that was due in large part to the time he spent with Carter. The 24-year-old had two dozen goals and a total of 44 points, with three goals on the man-advantage. He averaged 16:19 of ice time and registered 187 shots on goal, plus he was responsible in his own end.
Drew Doughty led all NHLers in total ice time last season, averaging 27:08 a game. He managed 44 points in 82 games, including 12 goals, and has put together at least 44 points in each of his last three seasons. He’s a fixture on the power play and seems to put up points even if his team slips in the standings.
Woodstock’s Jake Muzzin had 28 points in 82 games and averaged 22:17 of ice time per contest. He had four goals on the power play and registered 184 shots on goal. In most categories, he took a step back from his totals in 2015-2016. He also posted the worst plus/minus of his career, but he’s still a reliable guy when it comes to offensive totals.
Alec Martinez rounds out Los Angeles’ top three blueliners. He had 39 points in 82 games last season and averaged 21:38 of ice time a game. He finished with a -17 plus/minus rating, but he set career-high totals in points, shots on goal and power play points. He also dishes out hits and blocked shots, which could make him a decent value selection in your fantasy league.
Quick injured his groin in the season opener in 2016-2017 and had just 17 starts last season, which put him in line for an 8-5-2 record. He posted two shutouts in that time, with a 2.26 goals against average and a .917 save percentage. He’s won 35 games five times in Los Angeles and is a consistent goalie, even if his team isn’t.
Darcy Kuemper is the backup. He could see an increased role if Quick injures himself again, but he won’t see many starts otherwise. He was snagged as a free agent and posted an 8-5-3 record last season with Minnesota. He’s never seen more than 28 starts in a season and fits well in the support role, plus he can handle the puck.