Our journey around the Pacific Division now takes us to sunny Los Angeles California to take a look at the LA Kings.
The Kings have had a curious off season, losing 5 players and only adding 3. The services of Wayne Simmonds, Ryan Smyth, Michal Handzus, Alexei Ponikarovsky, and Brayden Schenn were lost this off season. The loss of Simmonds will cost the Kings a fast and crafty forward that could stretch the defense, while the losses of Smyth and Handzus will cost the Kings 2 solid, veteran forwards.
For a few weeks it seemed, that Brad Richards was going to take his services to Los Angeles. It was the Rangers though, who swept in and won the Richards sweepstakes. It is uncertain how much this hurt the Kings, since they are already fairly deep at the center position.
The Kings only added 3 players this off season, but each player will play a big role this upcoming season. Mike Richards, Simone Gagne, and Colin Fraser were added to the roster. Mike Richards will join Anze Kopitar to form one of the best top-two center combinations in the league and Simone Gagne will likely pair up with Richards as the two played together in Philadelphia. With Dustin Penner, Dustin Brown, and Justin Williams all returning, the Kings offense will be incredibly potent and dangerous next season.
One question mark going into this season is the current contract situation with all-star Drew Doughty. Doughty, who is a restricted free-agent, is yet to sign with the Kings and is still looking at other teams as well. The issue however, is how much money Doughty commands. The Kings are the only real contender in the Doughty sweepstakes, and it seems certain that Doughty will return to LA. The question though is when and at what cost.
After a 46-30-6 season that saw the Kings finish 4th in the Pacific Division, it is uncertain what to expect this year. The Kings are certainly a potent offensive team with arguably the most dangerous top 6 forwards in the league. However with the Doughty questions and a drop in talent for the last two lines of forwards, Kings fans should expect to squeak into the playoffs this year.