There's very little question that the group of Jonathan Quick, Anze Kopitar and Drew Doughty are among the top three players at their position, while Tyler Toffoli emerges as another one of the league's top trigger men and Jeff Carter continues to roll along, somewhat out of the spotlight. There is a lot of cap space tied up in those first three and their season depends so heavily on how well they play, before you can even begin to look at their depth.
The Kings were not terribly busy in this off-season, but thy did go out and add Teddy Purcell to their forward ranks and will certainly give a shot to Jeff Zatkoff to be their back-up goalie, but otherwise, the build from within continues and if this season doesn't quite go so well, it may be time for the Kings to evaluate their youth system and their scouting staff.
It might be a dead giveaway, but I can't say that I'm overly excited about the Kings, as a whole, and the luck that the Blackhawks have had with their scouting and their depth is one of the biggest reasons why they have succeeded so well. The Kings' depth has done well enough to help them not lose, but they could really do much better to help themselves win, which is a big difference. Hockey pool-wise, I would be looking at those top five to seven players and then more than likely moving on.
Table last updated on August 5th
Most Intriguing or Breakout Player
Continuing to trend upwards, forward Tyler Toffoli should continue to produce for the Kings, as he builds on 29 points in 2014, 49 points in 2015 and 58 points in 2016, pushing his projection up to 65 points. The 24-year old has been doing all the right things, since joining the Kings at the top level and the Kings have been repaid for their patience with him.
A 2nd round pick in 2010, he may have exceeded some of the expectations that were placed upon him around that draft, but now we can comfortably expect a little bit more and the Kings have a franchise scorer in the making.
First Round Picks
There has been no evidence to suggest that taking Jonathan Quick or Anze Kopitar out of the 1st round conversation, although Kopitar could be a 2nd round pick, depending on the tastes of those teams near the end of that 1st round. Quick, on the other hand, will continue to eat up minutes for Los Angeles, as they don't really have a guy waiting in the wings for the number one job.
Other Pool Worthy Forwards
There's nothing to say that Jeff Carter won't continue his strong play in the coming season, his game doesn't seem to have the biggest valleys, despite how high some of his peaks have been. Tanner Pearson continues to be a bit of a puzzling player, as he could be better than his projections, but he hasn't really shown that in big flashes yet. Teddy Purcell and Marian Gaborik should also be in the conversation at some point, but they get to be big gambles as well.
Other Pool Worthy Defense
Of course, we know that Doughty is a lock and I think Jake Muzzin is very much the same, but his issue is where to place him on the list. He's currently in the 40-point range, but even in that range, he might not be the first guy I turn to at the draft. Alec Martinez, however, could be a good add at a later pick, as he has shown some flashes and could be a guy worth picking up to boost from the back end.
In behind Quick, it's a three-horse race, led by former Penguins' back-up Jeff Zatkoff, as he tries to hold off both Peter Budaj, the veteran, and Jack Campbell, long-time Stars prospect, finally looking for an NHL job. Of the three, Campbell may make the most interesting case, especially given his age and his desire to finally be a number one in the bigs. As it stands, Zatkoff does have the edge going in, thanks to experience.
Team To Pick From?
That lack of confidence in the team's depth is where they will lack in the late rounds and it has been said and repeated already. I think you'll find better home run possibilities on other teams, rather than the Kings.
Unsigned Players and Salary Cap
The Kings have all their restricted free agents taken care of, but their leftover roster still has a good number of potential players for other teams left on the market, like forward Kris Versteeg or goalie Jhonas Enroth. Both may not command big bucks and could still be very serviceable.
Los Angeles won't be looking at those two, since they don't have a lot of space left on their side. Their current projected roster only has $637,000 in cap space, give or take, and they could easily start the season with less than a 23-man roster for flexibility purposes.
Defenseman Tom Gilbert had undergone major knee surgery in February, while playing for Montreal last season and his return time would have him ready to go about now. He could be a sleeper pick, heading into the season, but it could be a question of how many minutes he wants and how many minutes he's going to get, before you can determine how much of an influence he will be in the 2017 season.