For the last 8 years the LA Kings have missed out on the playoffs and have been treated like the younger, less successful Golden State brother by the Anaheim Ducks and San Jose Sharks.
At one time, the Kings were the talk of the town. Wayne Gretzky isn’t around to boost the team reputation any more, but in hockey-savvy towns, we’re all envious of the roster the Kings have put together.
While LA didn’t make it past the Canucks in the first round, there is plenty for the organization to be excited about. The Kings have a young roster, with plenty of talent and it seems to excite both the traditional hockey analysts and the advanced statisticians alike.
All the players listed below are under contract through next season with the exception of Frolov who is an unrestricted free agent.
Depth at Forward
The Kings have a collection of forwards that would make most teams blush. Not only do they have 6 forwards with fantastic scoring and Corsi ratings, but they have the right mix with two of each winger and two centers among the group.
LA has a scintillating offensive leader in Anze Kopitar. The Slovenian is big, fast and racks up points like a deer hunter. Every good team needs a go-to scorer and Kopitar does that for the Kings.
Anze Kopitar, C, 81 pts, 0.526 Corsi%
Wayne Simmonds, RW, 40 pts, 0.503 Corsi%
Ryan Smyth, LW, 53 pts, 0.536 Corsi%
Michael Handzus, C, 42 pts, 0.459 Corsi%
Justin Williams, RW, 29 pts, 0.590 Corsi%
Alex Frolov, LW, 51 pts, 0.514 Corsi%
Add players like Dustin Brown to the mix and the depth at forward is obvious, especially with other young players like Braydon Schenn and Brandon Kozun.
Future Norris winner on Defense
He may win the Norris this year, and he will definitely win it in the future. As I wrote back in February, he was Team Canada’s best defenseman. Drew Doughty is the next great blueliner in the NHL. The combination of great vision, skating ability, defensive awareness and the desire to play physical make him the full package at age 20.
The Kings also have a pair of d-men who further drive puck possession in Matt Greene and Davis Drewiskie as you can see below. They may not be the players who get a ton of media attention, but when it comes to driving possession and shot differential, they are both excellent. While many will brag of Jack Johnson’s skill, he really hasn’t been as valuable to the Kings as these two, but has the talent to step up his game as he showed for Team USA.
Drew Doughty, D, 59 pts, 0.518 Corsi%
Matt Greene, D, 9 pts, 0.521 Corsi%
Davis Drewiskie, D, 8 pts, 0.531 Corsi%
Jack Johnson, D, 36 pts, 0.487 Corsi%
An Emerging Netminder and Talent in the Bank
With Jonathan Quick emerging as a solid goalie this year, the Kings have the luxury of a starting goalie they can depend on and young Jonathan Bernier developing in the backup role. Most teams would kill to have both.
Bernier had a stellar save percentage in only a few games, so it doesn’t tell us much, but he probably deserves to see 20-25 starts next year given Quick’s solid but unspectacular 90.7% mark.
With a roster full of young talent, plenty of cap room for next year (~$15M) a a few playoff games under their belt against top competition, the Kings are a team built for a good push over the next 2 or 3 years.
If they can recapture some of the old magic, maybe the stands will be littered with celebrities again and one of the players can marry a Kardashian sister.