Los Angeles Kings 2020-21 Season Preview

       A good way to sum up the Kings\’ roster is that there are a couple of high paid, aging players, and then  just about nothing else. These next few years are meant for building up the Kings\’ young talent and seeing what sticks, and what doesn\’t. 

Additions: F Andreas Athanasiou, D Olli Maatta.

Subtractions: D Ben Hutton, F Trevor Lewis, D Joakim Ryan.

Best Move: Signing Andreas Athanasiou to a one year deal. 

Worst Move: Not taking more chances on the younger UFAs, or offer sheets (I\’m talking to you, Anthony Cirelli).

One Move I\’d Make: Check in on the not smart GMs on if they want Drew Doughty.

Best Contract: Adrian Kempe, two years remaining with a $2 million cap hit.

Worst Contract: Drew Doughty, seven years remaining with an $11 million cap hit.

New Division Rivals: Anaheim, Arizona, Colorado, Minnesota, San Jose, St. Louis, Vegas.

Pending UFAs: Alex Iafallo. 

Pending RFAs: Andreas Athanasiou, Blake Lizotte, Matt Roy, Trevor Moore, Michael Amadio.

Forwards

While he isn\’t worth the $10 million he\’ll earn for the next four seasons, Anze Kopitar is still the best forward in Los Angeles. Kopitar scored 21 goals, hitting the 20 goal mark for the 11th time in his career, and he led the team with 62 points. He received a Byng vote, and finished seventh in Selke voting. Alex Iafallo was second on the team in points, with 43. He scored 17 goals, and because he arrived in the NHL at a late age, he\’ll become a UFA after his fourth season. The Kings will have the cap space to retain him, although they might trade him at the deadline. Former captain Dustin Brown is entering his 17th season with the franchise. Brown scored 17 goals with 35 points in 66 games last year, and that point total was higher than any of his seasons from 2012-13 to 2015-16, with some of those earlier years coming in his prime. Adrian Kempe scored 11 goals, hitting at least that mark for the third straight season. He also had 32 points with a 55.2 CF%. In his first full NHL season, Blake Lizotte had 23 points in 65 games, with a 55.1 CF%. Kempe and Lizotte played a lot together last year. Since both have more defensive value than offensive value, the Kings could balance that out by putting them with Andreas Athanasiou, who they signed yesterday. Athanasiou is the polar opposite, an all-offensive speedster. He scored 30 goals in 2018-19, but only had 11 in 55 games last year. While the top-six consists of more experienced players, the bottom-six consists of mostly rookies. One of the exceptions to that is Jeff Carter, who is moving to right wing. Entering his 16th NHL season, Carter scored 17 goals in 60 games last year. He could play with two of the teams\’ best prospects, Gabe Vilardi and Quinton Byfield. Vilardi scored three goals with four assists in a 10 game NHL trial, and had 25 points in 32 AHL games. The second overall pick in the draft earlier this year, Byfield scored 32 goals with 82 points in 45 games as a 17 year old in the OHL. One of them will have to play the wing unless the Kings stick them on the fourth line, and I think that could be Byfield for now. Martin Frk scored six goals in 17 games last year, and was a power play specialist in the AHL, scoring 23 goals with 36 points in 37 games for the Ontario Reign. A second rounder in 2019, Samuel Fagemo has a chance at the starting lineup. He scored 13 goals in 42 games for Frolunda in Sweden last year. He has 11 points in 18 games in Sweden this year. The Kings traded a second rounder for 2017 7th overall pick Lias Andersson, whose stock has tumbled over the past few years. Andersson had 11 points in 19 games in Sweden this year, and has nine points in 66 NHL games for the Rangers. 2014 third rounder Michael Amadio scored a career high 16 points in 68 games. The influx of young talent coming in could push Amadio and Austin Wagner out of the lineup. Wagner played in 65 games last year, with 11 points and a 54.9 CF%. 

Defensemen

Drew Doughty has tumbled over the past two seasons. A former Norris winner, Doughty had 35 points in 67 games last year. But, for the second consecutive season, Evolving-Hockey estimated his value at negative dollars. That isn\’t good for a guy with an $11 million cap hit for the next seven years. Olli Maatta comes in with the tough task of turning that around. He had 17 points in 65 games for the Blackhawks last year, with a 6.7 GAR. Puck moving defenseman Sean Walker had a nice rookie season, with 24 points in 70 games. That play earned him a four year extension with a $2.65 million cap hit. Another puck moving defenseman, Michael Anderson, got into six NHL games and had a goal last year. Anderson had 15 points in 53 AHL games. He was a 4th rounder in 2017 who went to Duluth for two years. While Walker finished with more points, Matt Roy got a Calder vote and a Byng vote. Roy had 18 points in 70 games, but had a very high GAR of 12.4. Roy also had a 56.1 CF%. 2019 first rounder Tobias Bjornfot got into three games at the beginning of the season, then went to the AHL. There, he had 19 points in 44 games. During the break, Bjornfot played in his home country of Sweden. Kurtis MacDermid got into NHL games for the third straight season, this team with a career high 45 games played. He had eight points in those games. 

Goalies

Jonathan Quick is still the starter at the moment. Quick will turn 35 a week after the season starts, and he had a negative GSAA for the second consecutive season last year. 2019-20 was actually an improvement on an awful 2018-19. Quick finished with a .904 SV% and a 2.79 GAA in 42 starts. Cal Petersen has rough AHL numbers, but has performed in 19 career NHL games, eight of which came in 2019-20. Petersen has a .923 career SV%, and will be a full-time back-up in 2020-21. 

Projected Lines

Alex Iafallo – Anze Kopitar – Dustin Brown

Adrian Kempe – Blake Lizotte – Andreas Athanasiou

Quinton Byfield – Gabe Vilardi – Jeff Carter

Samuel Fagemo – Lias Andersson – Martin Frk

Extras: Michael Amadio, Austin Wagner

Olli Maatta – Drew Doughty

Michael Anderson – Sean Walker

Tobias Bjornfot – Matt Roy

Jonathan Quick

Cal Petersen

Projection

2020-21 is a great chance for the Kings to work on developing young players. The team is really bad, but they are the only team in the NHL that actively hopes that their bottom-six outplays their top-six. I think that the Kings could easily finish dead last in the NHL this year, but at least they could have some bright spots, like Byfield or Vilardi or Bjornfot.

Published by carterhud

Carterhud.com. SI Kids Kid Reporter, Prime Time Sports Talk writer

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