Surprise, cockfags! SBNation has been running season previews for every team in the league, and now it's Los Angeles' turn. Read this and then head over to Blueshirt Banter to hear how the Rangers aren't completely screwed paying Chris Drury, Wade Redden and Marian Gaborik $21 million dollars a season the next 3 seasons... haha just kidding, they're screwed.
2008-09 Season Review:
Drew Doughty was good, so was Wayne Simmonds, Anze Kopitar was underwhelming, Jack Johnson was hurt, Jon Quick was a surprise, Jason Labarbera sucked balls, and the Kings missed the playoffs again.
Who's In: Justin Williams (RW- trade, CAR), Ryan Smyth (LW- trade, COL), Rob Scuderi (D- UFA, PIT)
Who's Out: Patrick O'Sullivan (RW- trade, EDM), Kyle Quincey (D- trade, COL), Derek Armstrong (C- UFA, STL), Jason Labarbera (G- UFA, Phoenix), Denis Gauthier (D- UFA, shot into Sun), Kyle Calder (LW- UFA, ANA), Tom Preissing (D- COL), Brian Boyle (C- Trade, NYR)
Team Strengths: The Kings' biggest strength is their ability to keep the puck out of the net. The Kings were only 11th in goals allowed last season with 226, but they excelled at keeping the puck away from their net (tied for 4th in shots allowed). They were hurt last season by lackluster goaltending in the first half of the season but the introduction of young Jonathan Quick should help alleviate that this year.
The Kings also have a lot of forward and defensive depth; when you can afford to put someone like Alex Frolov on your stopper line and your defense is good enough that you can't find room for someone like Thomas Hickey on the backend, you can feel pretty confident that if someone gets injured then the rest of the team will pick up the slack. The Kings also have depth in goal, with 23-year old Jonathan Quick backed up by both Erik Ersberg and young prospect Jonathan Bernier. You can't expect any one of them to be a great goaltender this season but you figure you have a one in three shot, which isn't bad.
Team Weaknesses: The Kings do have a lot of depth, but what they lack is elite talent at any one position. The hope is that 22-year old Anze Kopitar will become that elite talent this season (he's definitely getting paid like one at $6.8 million dollars a year), but that's a lot of pressure to put on someone that young. Likewise, the workhorse of the defense is 19-year old Drew Doughty, who played 23+ minutes as an 18-year old last season. Both players will eventually become elite players in the NHL, but the Kings need them to be that player now and they may not be ready.
Kings' fans were hoping that the Kings would trade for that elite scorer that has been missed since Ziggy Palffy left Hollywood, but both Dany Heatley and Phil Kessel found homes elsewhere. Instead, the Kings traded for gritty left winger Ryan Smyth (who I hate, but that's another story) and oft-injured right winger Justin Williams. Both men have been perennial 30-goal scorers at one time, but age and injuries have lowered their value of late. The other major acquisition of this off-season, Rob Scuderi, is a nice defenseman (and was invaluable during the Penguins' cup run), but he's not exactly someone you build a defense around. The Kings have a lot of indians but they still need a chief.
The Kings main lines are pretty much set, with only the 4th line, 6th defenseman and back-up goaltender up for grabs. Click here for more in-depth analysis of training camp battles.
The Kings generally follow a formula where they have two shooters and one set-up man on each line. Kopitar, Frolov and young prospect Ted Purcell are the set-up men, while the others are expected to get to the front of the net for head coach Terry Murray. The bottom 5 forwards are interchangeable; no real decisions have been made at this point.
Predictions: The season pretty much rests on 2 people: Anze Kopitar and Jonathan Quick. If Anze Kopitar can continue the career path he was on before last season's hiccup and score 80+ points, and if Jonathan Quick can repeat his performance from last year, the Kings should be in the mix for the playoffs. The Western Conference is tough to pick. The Kings could finish anywhere from 6th-13th and will be fighting with Anaheim and Dallas all season for a playoff birth in the Pacific Division.
What the hell: I'll go out on a limb and say that, for the first time since 2004, the Kings finish better than the Anaheim Ducks and make the playoffs.