The Los Angeles Kings were a disappointment in 2016-17, finishing with just 86 points. All-star goalie Jonathan Quick was limited to just 17 games, and first line center Anze Kopitar scored a career low 12 goals. GM Dean Lombardi and head coach Darryl Sutter were fired, and assistant GM Rob Blake and assistant coach John Stevens took over the head roles. Blake didn\’t do much, but here\’s a look at what he did do.
Notable additions: F Michael Cammalieri, D Christian Folin, G Darcy Kuemper.
Notable subtractions: G Ben Bishop, F Jarome Iginla, F Teddy Purcell.
Here are my projected forward lines.
Michael Cammalieri – Anze Kopitar – Dustin Brown
Tanner Pearson – Jeff Carter – Tyler Toffoli
Marian Gaborik – Trevor Lewis – Nic Dowd
Kyle Clifford – Nick Shore – Andy Andreoff
Kopitar playing with two vets in Brown and Cammalieri is a solid top line. The 70s line will always produce. Gaborik might miss the beginning of the season, so former 1st rounder Adrian Kempe will in if Gaborik is out. The bottom six is pretty good. Jordan Nolan, Jonny Brodzinski and Boko Imama are the extra forwards, but Brodzinski and Imama could be in the AHL.
Here are my projected defensive pairs.
Alec Martinez – Drew Doughty
Jake Muzzin – Christian Folin
Derek Forbort – Kevin Gravel
Doughty is a Norris trophy candidate. He should play with Muzzin, but they to want to spread the skill around. Forbort turned into a solid NHL defenseman last year, playing 82 games. His previous career high was 14 games. Gravel has only 54 career NHL games under his belt, so he can have that successful season this year. Paul LaDue is the extra defenseman.
Getting Quick back for a full season is key. He\’s a huge part of their team. They signed Kuemper to be their backup, after he was Devin Dubnyk\’s backup in Minnesota. Jack Campbell is the third goalie and AHL goalie, and so is Jeff Zatkoff.
The Kings still are a good team. If Quick stays healthy, they can succeed, but, in a tight conference, I think they won\’t make the playoffs in 2017-18.