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2017-2018 NHL Preview: Los Angeles Kings

The Kings have a talented defensive core and goalie, they need more goal scorers

Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

In this 31 part series, I will be working my way back from 31st to 1st in my projected 2017-2018 standings. Eighth up are the Los Angeles Kings who won their franchise's first two Stanley Cups in 2011-2012 and 2013-2014. Since then they've made the playoffs once in the last three seasons, winning just one playoff game against the Sharks in the 2015-2016 season.

Basic Stats:
2016-2017 NHL Standings: 22nd
Western Conference Standings: 10th
Pacific Division Standings: 5th
Goals for Rank: 24th
Goals against Rank: 6th

Overview: The Los Angeles Kings finished 22nd last year. In the offseason they lost Jonathan Bernier and Jarome Iginla backfilling with Michael Cammalleri but one of their core issues remains the fact that they are the 4th oldest team in the league. While that old core won Stanley Cups, they are getting older and slower each year. It isn't unrealistic to project Jeff Carter, Anze Kopitar, Dustin Brown, Marian Gaborik, Drew Doughty, Matt Greene and Alec Martinez as on the decline at this point (all except Doughty are 29 or older). Not necessarily at a rapid descent but it would be more likely to see their point totals go down than up. Jeff Carter scored 16% of the team's goals and at one point mid-way through the year he was producing 25% of their goals. I assure you this is not a stat I put out there as a good sign (looking at you Tanner Pearson and Tyler Toffoli, now is the time to step up big). Their saving grace is that Drew Doughty is a fantastic defender. Behind him, Derek Forbort, Alec Martinez and Jake Muzzin are also good. Behind all of them is Jonathan Quick, who is still one of the league's 5-6 best goalies. Unless they find some additional goal scoring they will likely remain in the same rut they were in last year--excellent defense with little offense. John Stevens did a good job with the Flyers but he is not a yeller or big motivational speech kind of guy which can lead to lackluster attitudes and play.

Major Additions: Michael Cammalleri
Major Subtractions: Jonathan Bernier, Jarome Iginla

Prospects and Picks:
-Gabriel Vilardi. Personally, this was a steal for LA at 11. I thought Gabriel would be a top three pick and a bit further. He is strong with the puck, able to make plays happen using his 6'2 size but like any young skater he has some form to work on. At 17 he probably has 2 years before he sees time in the bigs but if he works on his skating he could be a solid top 6 forward for the Kings.

-Adrian Kempe. The Swedish prospect was drafted 29th overall in the 2014 draft. He scored 12 goals with 30 points across 46 points last year playing for the AHL affiliate the Ontario Reign. He was brought up where he played 25 games scoring 6 points with 2 power play assists and a shorthanded assist. He has international experience showing his ability to be physical and willingness to back check. He rarely loses 1:1 corner battles and could bring a good competitive bite to the Kings if they decide to bring him on to start the season or even mid-season.

Sleeper Fantasy Asset:
-Tyler Toffoli. Tanner had a breakout moment last year but I'm trusting in Tyler on having a fourth year slump (is that a thing?)
2013 -€” 2014: 62GP; 12G; 17A; 29P; +21; 9.7SPCT
2014 - 2015:  76GP; 23G; 26A; 49P; +25; 11.5SPCT
2015 -€” 2016:   82GP; 31G; 27A; 58P; +35; 14.6SPCT
2016 -€” 2017: 63GP; 16G; 18A; 36P; +6; 9.7SPCT

Tyler was representative of the team as a whole, just generally down. Personally I think Jeff Carter goes down from 66 points to more around 60 and we see Tanner Pearson and Tyler come back up around 40 - 50 point range.

Injuries have limited his past few seasons but at his peak Jonathan Quick is among the best goalies. Keep a loose eye on him if he slips down your draft board as he is good enough for sub 2.25 GAA with a .920+ save percentage.

Cap Situation:
They currently have around $6.8MM in cap space with 21 players signed.
Projected finish:
2017-2018 NHL Standings: 24th
Western Conference Standings: 12th
Pacific Division 6th

NHL 25th: New Jersey Devils (Eastern Conference 13th; Metropolitan Division 7th)

NHL 26th: Detroit Red Wings (Eastern Conference 14th; Atlantic Division 6th)

NHL 27th: New York Islanders (Eastern Conference 15th; Metropolitan Division 8th)

NHL 28th: Vancouver Canucks (Western Conference 13th; Pacific Division 7th)

NHL 29th: Florida Panthers (Eastern Conference 16th; Atlantic Division 8th)

NHL 30th: Las Vegas Golden Knights (Western Conference 14th; Pacific Division 8th)

NHL 31st: Colorado Avalanche (Western Conference 15th; Central Division 7th)