The hardest thing to do in the NHL nowadays, as a franchise, is win back-to-back championships, although the Kings have now won a couple in three years, which is almost as good.
Those remarkable feats, however, do not necessarily translate into good regular season numbers, which means that as hockey pool options, there are very few Kings that may fit the bill. This is more of a word of warning, just in case you thought the Kings were going to bust out of their scoring shells all of a sudden.
No, the Kings know how to win games as a team, given the cast of characters that they have and that generally only makes one player on the squad a viable early-round pick and that's their number one goaltender. From what we've seen from the Kings, this rule only has applied in the playoffs, where Jonathan Quick has been lights out, not necessarily in the regular season, where he has been good enough.
|Forwards||14/15 Proj||Cap Hit||Defense||14/15 Proj||Cap Hit||Goaltenders||14/15 Proj||Cap Hit|
|Anze Kopitar||75||6.800||Drew Doughty||60||7.000||Jonathan Quick||80||5.800|
|Marian Gaborik||65||4.875||Vyacheslav Voynov||35||4.167||Martin Jones||40||0.550|
|Jeff Carter||60||5.273||Alec Martinez||25||1.100|
|Justin Williams||45||3.650||Jake Muzzin||25||1.000|
|Mike Richards||40||5.750||Robyn Regehr||10||3.000|
|BUYOUTS & OTHER||0.000|
|Adam Cracknell||5||0.600||Derek Forbort||5||0.863|
|David Van Der Gulik||5||0.550||Brayden McNabb||5||0.650|
First Round Picks
Last season, there was only one Kings player taken in the 1st round and that was Quick, who has taken 21st out of 24 teams. He turned out to be more of a late 2nd round pick, finishing 40th overall, while teammate Anze Kopitar was closer, finishing 27th overall. This year, I see it as much of the same, where there probably shouldn't be any Kings taken, no matter how attractive Quick looks, I don't think this team is built to dominate in the regular season.
Most Intriguing or Breakout Player
The opportunity for becoming a productive scoring player on a championship team was not lost on Marian Gaborik last Spring, as the deal that brought him to the West Coast from Columbus was not lauded as much as it may have should have been. Yes, it was a big contract with very little to show for it, moving from East to West, but the Kings were not looking for a 50-goal scorer, per say, they were looking for someone who had some touch and could play their style of game. Gaborik became a perfect fit. How does this translate this season? I think he does well. I think the 65-point range is a good number for him to reach and it gives Los Angeles a little bit more punch.
Other Pool Worthy Forwards
The Kings and their forward depth is very impressive and it will show at the draft, I'm sure. The number of players that emerged as possible hockey pool draft candidates was somewhat staggering out of their Stanley Cup run. There is a good chance that Tyler Toffoli, Dwight King and Tanner Pearson will all get looks this season after being so big for the Kings in the post-season. They will most certainly compliment the forwards that would have been considered old favourites from year to year.
Other Pool Worthy Defense
The defense, just like the forwards, will likely get picked apart as well this year and why not? Alec Martinez and Jake Muzzin will attract some late round love, while Drew Doughty should be up for a huge year. Yes, the Kings will be generating some offense from the back, according to these projections and I don't think it is really out of the question. There won't be too much more than the top four, Slava Voynov included, since ice-time will be rather limited, but I gather that the Kings will be debuting some new talent on the blueline this year, possibly some Waiver Draft fodder.
Jonathan Quick's injury last year sparked a little bit of a goaltending debate between the back-ups, but the Kings swiftly took care of that, leaving Martin Jones as the clear number two guy and such a capable number two guy he is. Quick, assuming that he remains healthy, will take the bulk of the starts, while Jones will get his fair share and likely keep himself as a decent back-up option for 2015.
Team To Pick From Late?
With how many players I can see being picked this year from Los Angeles, by default, some of those players will be picked late and that should be by design, rather than desperation. I think it would be a good idea to have some of these guys on your list, just in case you're struggling for players near the end of the day.
Unsigned Players and Salary Cap
The Kings have settled with all of their restricted free agents, moved a couple pieces around, but for the most part have the same kind of line-up that they did that won the Cup. With a couple spaces left on defense still to settle in, maybe another forward, the team still has about $4.2 million left to play with, which is more than enough with their organizational depth. If this kind of cap room can be saved for the trade deadline, this team could be in the market for another Cup run.
Back in June, not long after the Stanley Cup was handed out, starting goalie Jonathan Quick underwent wrist surgery and was expected to miss 10-to-12 weeks of off-season training, but a good portion of that was likely going to be rest. Then, in fact, it all turned into rest, which was probably pretty good for Quick, who had a good run. The Kings number one should be ready to go for camp and the regular season.