Review of 2010-2011: 46-30-6, 98 Points, 7th In Western Conference, Lost In Western Conference Quarter-finals 4-2 Vs. San Jose
Key additions via free agency: Ethan Moreau, Simon Gagne
Key additions via trade: Mike Richards, Colin Fraser
Key losses: Alexei Ponikarovsky, Michal Handzus, Wayne Simmonds, Brayden Schenn Ryan Smyth
Offense: Talk about a team looking to make an bigger impact this season, Los Angeles is going all in. Despite giving up the highly touted Brayden Schenn, bringing in Mike Richards was a huge move for The Kings this year. This gives Los Angeles top centers on their top three lines, and hey, judging by last years stats, their top 3 centers could all hit the 50+ point mark this year, there aren’t too many teams that can say that. Richards also brings his powerplay skill to The Kings, who need the help. (They were 21st in the league in powerplay percentage.) New acquisition Ethan Moreau looks to replace Ryan Smyth, who was traded this offseason. While Moreau getting near the 47 points Smyth had last year doesn’t look doable, He should still be useful to the team. A player of interest to watch this year, is also a new acquisition, Simon Gagne. Gagne has struggled with concussion and injury issues in the past, but finally seems to be back to 100% and should provide some more firpower to an already loaded Los Angeles team.
Defense: Last year The Kings PK was the 4th best in the league, headlined by Drew Doughty and Jack Johnson, The Kings defense looks to be stellar once again. Doughty and Johnson seem to be able to do an entire team’s worth of defense by themselves (scoring, blocking, hitting). While it isn’t a complaint, it would be nice to see one of their other defensemen (Mitchell,Greene,Scuderi,Martinez) get to the 20-30 point mark. If another Defenseman could step up offensively, it certainly wouldn’t hurt an already strong Los Angeles defense.
Goaltender: No question who will be starting for Los Angeles this season, Jonathan Quick shined last year going 35-22-3 with a .918 sv% and a 2.24 goals against average. Could this be the year Quick hits 40 wins? It is quite possible with the team in front of him. Backup goalie Jonathan Bernier looks to add another decent season on his resume. At one time him and Quick battled for the number one spot, which was clearly won by Quick, but Bernier has settles into the abckup role nicely, he went 11-8-3 last year with a .913 sv% and a 2.48 goals against average. The goaltending in Los Angeles only seems to be getting better, and with the team up front, there is no reason we shouldn’t see Quick back in the Vezina race this year.
Prediction: (2nd In Pacific Division, 4th In Western Conference)
Los Angeles should have a real breakout year this year. When other teams got better, so did they, and with their core, there is no reason they shouldn’t be able to come out ahead of Chicago and Detroit in the Western Conference standings. I see San Jose JUST slipping ahead of them in the Pacific Division. While Doughty re-signing remains the only question mark, it shouldn’t be an issue too much longer.
Standout Player: Mike Richards
While Richards has been able to put up a number of points in past seasons, this year with LA he should explode into anywhere from the 80 point range, to 100 point range.