It’s Good to be the Kings
The Los Angeles Kings improbable run to a Stanley Cup championship last year was nothing short of incredible. After finishing in eighth spot in the Western Conference in 2011-12, the Kings did the unimaginable and marched all the way to the franchise’s first title. Unfortunately for hockey fans, the Kings triumph is the last bit of NHL action we have seen in six months. Unless of course you count an angry Gary Bettman press conference, the relentless interviews of a stubborn Donald Fehr, or a horrid Steve Fehr sweater.
Los Angeles’ victory looks even more impressive when you consider they barely snuck into the playoffs, and finished second to last in the league in goals for. The Kings’ struggles to find the back of the net were especially troubling when you give their roster a quick scan. They seem to bolster plenty of firepower, but also had many players that had off years. In fact, if not for Anze Kopitar and his 76 points, the Kings offense could have set new record lows in futility.
It’s hard enough to win one Cup, but probably even more difficult to repeat. Playing late into June cuts into a player’s recovery time, and the following season is often accompanied by a championship hangover. Los Angeles shouldn’t have to worry about that because of the lockout and everyone should come back refreshed. Of course I am still operating under the insane assumption that there still will be a season. Otherwise, Los Angeles will have this work stoppage to thank for extending their Cup reign to two years.
Let’s just imagine for a minute that the NHL is actually run by rational and intelligent people, meaning we will have some sort of a season. Here’s an outlook for some Kings players in 2012-13.
Anze Kopitar – C
Kopitar is slowly creeping up the NHL ladder towards superstar status. He probably could have had more than 76 points in 2011-12 if the majority of his team-mates hadn’t been so anaemic offensively. His drop in power play production over the last two seasons is slightly concerning, but nowhere near enough to not make Kopitar a must have if you get the chance to take him.
Dustin Brown - RW
Brown is Mr. Everything when it comes to fantasy stats. Brown finished second in the NHL last year with 293 hits and added 54 points, while finishing with a plus-18 rating. The rugged winger is also typically good for over 200 shots and 20-plus goals. Brown can give your squad a boost in many different spots.
Justin Williams - RW
When healthy, Williams is one of the more reliable and underrated players in the game. If he plays the full season then you are looking at 55-plus points from Williams to go along with over 200 shots. In fact, he led the Kings in 2011-12 by firing 241 pucks at the net. Also, nearly half of his 22 goals came with the man advantage last year, so he can produce consistently on the power play as well.
Jonathan Quick – G
If Quick hadn’t recorded ten shutouts last year then the Kings probably wouldn’t even have seen the post-season, let alone a Stanley Cup. Look for Los Angeles to straighten out some of their offensive issues and that should help Quick’s win totals rise. The lockout should have also helped to give his body a rest after that long playoff run, making him more refreshed for the 2012-13 campaign.
Mike Richards – C
Both Richards and Jeff Carter seemed completely blindsided when they were dealt from the Philadelphia Flyers, and their play in 2011-12 suggested they were still in a cheese steak haze. Richards posted his lowest point and shots totals since the 2006-07 campaign. Expect the pesky center to bounce back though as he looked to show some signs of life as the year progressed. At the end of the season he finished with a five game point streak, and carried that momentum into the playoffs by recording 15 points in 20 games.
Jeff Carter – C
Carter has the ability to play in the middle, but with Kopitar and Richards around, expect him to be on the wing somewhere in the top-six in 2012-13. Considering he only played in 55 games last year because of injury, his totals weren’t all that terrible. Not to mention he played 39 games with the Blue Jackets, which is enough to make anyone regress. Carter also seemed to regain his scoring touch during last year’s postseason. He notched eight goals and had four multi-point games during the Kings’ Cup run.
Drew Doughty – D
Doughty’s holdout during training camp really seemed to throw him off in 2011-12. He had just 36 points and only 13 of those came with the man advantage, which was a career low. The encouraging thing with Doughty was that he set a career high in shots on net. With his contract situation resolved and his future firmly set in Los Angeles, expect Doughty to return to his usual form.
Dustin Penner – LW
Penner scored just seven goals last year, but it was only three seasons ago where he had 63 points. If Penner comes into this season interested in not wasting his size and talent, he could be a good sleeper. On the other hand, if the Penner that got injured while eating some pancakes shows up, your squad could get torpedoed in a hurry. We joke about pancakes, but some of those delicious breakfast dishes can be treacherous. Trying to lift a short stack of the New York Cheesecake or Blueberry/Banana/Chocolate Chip pancakes from IHOP can be hard on your back. Lift with your legs Dustin, lift with your legs.
Slava Voynov – D
Voynov impressed in his rookie season last year with the Kings and had 20 points in 54 games. It’s hard to gauge a young player’s development, but Voynov is flourishing again this year with 15 points for the Manchester Monarchs of the AHL. He’s definitely worth a look in the later rounds of your draft.
Simon Gagne - LW
It’s hard to believe Gagne is still just 32 years old. However, with his history of concussions you can’t really expect to get the player that Gagne was earlier in his career. He missed the bulk of last season with concussion issues so it remains to be seen what role he will play in 2012-13. The skill is there, but his health remains in question.
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