The Los Angeles Kings were only one step away from another Stanley Cup Final, but fell to the eventual winners from Chicago and it would be silly to think they wouldn't be in the mix for the last dance again this year.
The core of the Kings has been super-glued together and it looks like they are preparing for another run, which will include another strong regular season. The Kings had their ups and downs in the shortened 2013 regular season, finishing 2nd in the Pacific to Anaheim, but with changes abound elsewhere and division realignment, there is no reason why the Kings shouldn't be in the conversation for a division title this year.
There are going to be a good number of talented players to take in this year's pool and they'll be scattered throughout the first few rounds of the draft. I'm sure if you're reading this, you know that already.
Team Table (Players sorted by 2013 points)
Pool Worthy Forwards (35+ Points)
The forward group in LA have their constants, with their respectable ice-time, plus a little bit of depth to go along with it. You are going to be safe with picks like Anze Kopitar, Mike Richards, Justin Williams, Jeff Carter and Dustin Brown, but it will be up to you to really gauge where they will fall in the scoring race.
Under the Darryl Sutter system, there has to be some consideration for tighter defensive play, so I haven't really given any one player an excessive projection, figuring between the general health of these five guys to historically be spotty as well. They are all good players and should be on your team, I would remain somewhat cautious about picking them too high.
Pool Worthy Defensemen (20+ Points)
A lot about the Darryl Sutter system also has me somewhat reserved about making a Kings defenseman too high of a pick as well. Drew Doughty was a 59-point player in 2010, but I can't seem him coming close to that this year, because that would mean the reins would be off and he would be allowed to skate free.
Slava Voynov, who signed a pretty significant deal in the Summer, is definitely worth considering this year, as he finished as the Kings' top blueline scorer last season. He should be due for another good year and will make a good 1-2 punch with Doughty.
Pool Worthy Goalies (25+ Points)
Now that Jonathan Bernier has been shipped over to Toronto in the off-season, there will be few questions about having another number one goalie behind Jonathan Quick, which may limit the pre-game and post-game questions, but will it also limit the encouragement to keep playing well to keep his job? My guess is no, but it is definitely a question worth asking. I expect Quick to have another stellar year.
Players I am looking at through training camp will be forward Tyler Toffoli and defenseman Jake Muzzin, as they have showed some real spark over the last season and this could be a good year for a couple of breakout players. Right now, I have Muzzin in the line-up, which he should be and Toffoli on the outside looking in, but he isn't far away.
Still a fair number of questions around Willie Mitchell and his health. Mitchell missed all of last year with a knee injury and is still a question mark looming over training camp, which starts in a couple of weeks. I don't think he's a real hockey pool player, but his presence could be a benefit to a guy like Quick, who could win a couple more games with more stable defense in front of him.
Only one RFA left on the ledger, goaltender Martin Jones. With Ben Scrivens already in the fold from the Bernier deal, Jones likely isn't a priority.