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2018-2019 NHL Preview: Los Angeles Kings

Welcome back Ilya!

Arizona Coyotes v Los Angeles Kings Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

In this 31 part series, I will be working my way back from 31st to 1st in my projected 2017-2018 standings. Twenty-Seventh up are the Los Angeles Kings who are in their 51st season in the NHL. They made the playoffs every other year for the last four seasons losing in the first round both times (to the San Jose Sharks and Las Vegas Golden Knights). They are seven years removed from their two Stanley Cup wins in 2012 and 2014.

2017 – 2018 NHL Stats:
NHL Standings: 12th
Goals for Rank: 17th
Goals against Rank: 1st
PP Rank: 17th
PK Rank: 1st

Projected 2018-2019 NHL Stats

NHL Standings: 5th
Western Conference Standings: 3rd
Pacific Division Standings: 2nd
Coach: John Stevens (47-31-8 regular season, 0-4 playoffs with the Kings
(167-140-42 regular season; 11-16 playoffs all time)

Los Angeles Kings v Montreal Canadiens Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images


The Kings had their window, walked away with two Stanley Cups and are now in a transitional period. Anze Kopitar had a Hart Trophy level performance last year scoring 35 goals and 92 points across a full season of 82 games. He had 27 power play points and 2 shorthanded assists. Jeff Carter was limited to 22 games due to an ankle injury that required surgery. He’s back and skating but might never be 100% again. It’s looking like the top line will be Ilya Kovalchuk, back from the Russian KHL, Anze and Dustin Brown while the 2nd line will be up and coming Tanner Pearson and Tyler Toffoli with Jeff Carter (“That 70’s Line” since all three have jersey numbers in the 70s). The bottom two lines hold considerably less talent with Adriean Kempe and Alex Iafallo holding that down. The addition of Ilya should not only help their goals for (17th) but their power play too (also 17th) which makes them a threat next year. Defensively, the Kings are DEEP, James Norris winning Drew Doughty, Jake Muzzin, Alec Martinez, Derek Forbort, Dion Phaneuf and Paul Ladue, all solid. The strength of this team is driven from its defense and goaltending where they allowed the fewest goals against with the best penalty kill in the league. In net Jonathan Quick has been among the most consistent goalies in the league (as long as he’s healthy). He had a 2.4 GAA (10th in the league) and .921 Sv % (11th in the league). He has been below 2.45 GAA and above .915 for five straight seasons now. John Stevens is now in his 2nd season as head coach, he has a winning record in the regular season and should serve as a good pillar going forward.

Major Additions:

Ilya Kovalchuk, Peter Budaj

Major Subtractions:

Jarome Iginla

Prospects and Picks:

-Gabriel Vilardi. Taken 11th overall in the 2017 draft, he spent last season in the OHL putting up 58 points in 32 games. He can light the lamp but he also plays tough defense backchecking hard on plays. He elevates when the pressure grows, something that will be tested as he moves up to higher leagues this year.

-Rasmus Kupari. Taken 20th overall in this year’s draft, he put up 14 points in the Finnish Liiga last year. He is an offensively oriented defenseman. He has good hands and is a quick skater. He will need time to develop physically and work on reading plays professionally and position himself better.

Sleeper Fantasy Asset:

-Dustin Brown. I’m a big Dustin fan, he’s had his ups and downs but he is a valuable player to have on a team. He served as team captain from 2008 – 2016 (Anze Kopitar took it). He does not typically put up a ton of points, from 2012-2017 he did not exceed 40 points in any season. Last year, they put him with Anze Kopitar where he proceeded to put up 61 points and IF (big IF) they keep him on that top line with newly added Ilya Kovalchuk you better believe he can climb close to 70 points this year.

Los Angeles Kings v Vegas Golden Knights - Game One Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Cap Situation:

$66MM Spent; $9M in Cap room; 20 players signed; average team age 28.


Is Jonathan Quick a top 3 goalie this year?

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