After disappointing 2017 seasons from Tyler Toffoli, Tanner Pearson and Jake Muzzin, I am very skeptical that the Kings are heading in the right direction with this part of the core group. All three are talented players, I won't take that away from them, but as a group, along with Anze Kopitar, Jeff Carter and Drew Doughty, seem to be lacking something and it's hard to put a finger on it exactly.
Los Angeles will be a little different on the ice, one would assume, with the new coaching staff behind the bench, as John Stevens returns to a head coaching role this season. Stevens does inherit a solid group of veterans, who have been playing a defense-first kind of game under Darryl Sutter, so ramping up the puck movement will be job number one and with Doughty, Muzzin and Alec Martinez, there's no reason that they couldn't be successful, it's just harder to believe after last year's dud of a campaign.
Oh, did I forget about goaltending? Okay, let's be fair, the injury to Jonathan Quick, early and for as long as it lingered, wasn't helping at all. The 31-year old should be able to bounce back from a lower-body injury, which kept him out from the opening night of the season through to February, as played well on his return and he'll have a summer of strengthening behind him already.
Table last updated on August 5th
Most Intriguing or Breakout Player
Coming back from this injury and a long summer does make Jonathan Quick into the most intriguing player on the Kings roster ahead of the 2018 season. Just how high are you willing to take Quick at the draft this year?
I think the Kings will certainly remain as an exceptionally tough team to play against, throughout their lineup and Quick could very well be the lynch pin of this whole season (again!). The 31-year old could very well bounce back from this injury and if he gets as much action as previous years, he should be a 1st round pick once again this season.
Are you confident enough in Quick to take him that high?
First Round Picks
Besides their number one goaltender, the Kings aren't showing too many players on my list that would be worth taking in the top 25 picks or so. There is one or two players on that list that still are capable of getting to that 75-point mark, but I don't think the Kings are dynamic enough for anyone else to get there.
Other Pool Worthy Forwards
The Kings were able to add another pool worthy forward in this off-season with Mike Cammalleri back on the roster. He'll join Anze Kopitar, Jeff Carter, Tanner Pearson and Tyler Toffoli as the only ones I figure to be the best forwards to take out of Los Angeles. I would imagine all five will find their way to a pool team eventually.
Other Pool Worthy Defense
Drew Doughty is arguably the best defenseman in the league, playing in all situations and countless minutes, but his scoring still hovers around the 45-50 point mark, not exactly where the Brent Burns or Erik Karlsson's like to hang. Nevertheless, it's an even group in Los Angeles, with Alec Martinez and Jake Muzzin rounding out the top three. Derek Forbort was a pool worthy defender last season, but it's hard to say whether or not he can repeat the feat.
If all things go the way we think they should here, Quick is going to eat a lot of minutes, leaving either Jeff Zatkoff or Darcy Kuemper some unreasonable scraps to fight over, with Zatkoff being the favourite of the two. The 15 points that Zatkoff has projected doesn't seem to be enough to be worth considering at the draft.
Team To Pick From Late?
With very few pool worthy skaters on this team and a goalie that likes to hog a lot of minutes, I am not all that excited about the Kings, especially late on in the draft. There are a number of teams that I would rather take from, if I was left with a few players tied in the projection column late on.
Unsigned Players and Salary Cap
The Kings are all clear of any restricted free agents that need to be taken care of and their current projected roster leaves $4.8 million in unused cap space. That's not bad for a completed team in the middle of August. The Kings have already asked a couple of veterans to join camp in a professional tryout, so they are still looking for a little bit more talent, but likely on the cheap.
Forward Tyler Toffoli had off-season knee surgery, but is expected to be 100% for training camp, while Marian Gaborik may not be ready for training camp, as his lower-body issues continue to be an issue. On the blueline, both Alec Martinez and Derek Forbort had minor surgeries for their ailments and they are both expected to be ready for camp next month. Doesn't sound like a lot going on there, but some things to keep a slight eye on.