The Los Angeles Kings made some major changes this offseason. Firing both general manager Dean Lombardi, and head coach Darryl Sutter.
With Rob Blake and John Stevens now in charge, we should see a different Los Angeles Kings team hit the ice this coming season.
The Kings still have several outstanding players on the roster including Drew Doughty, Anze Kopitar, Jeff Carter, which should give them a chance to redeem themselves next season.
Five questions that surround the Los Angeles Kings through training camp into the new season include:
1) Can Jonathan Quick stay healthy and return to elite form?
Jonathan Quick got hurt in the very first game of the season and was only limited to 17 games in 2016/17.
Not having Quick in the lineup for more than four months hurt the Kings’ chances of keeping up in the playoff race all season. In the 17 games, Quick did play in, he posted a less than impressive 2.26 goals against average and only managed to get eight wins.
However, with a fully healed Quick who is still relatively young at 31-years-old, he has a chance to go back to his old form.
Essentially, his health will be key in helping the Kings return to the playoffs this coming season.
Many people may have forgotten that the Kings won two Stanley Cups in three seasons not too long ago in 2012 and 2014. During that time, the American was also a top-five goalie in the NHL, backstopping the Kings to two titles despite being a low playoff seed (8th, 6th) on both occasions.
If the Kings are able to sneak into the playoffs once again this year, the 2014 Jennings recipient may be able to surprise some people once again and take Los Angeles on another deep playoff run.
2) Will Anze Kopitar have a bounce-back season?
Anze Kopitar had a year he would like to forget in 2016/17.
Despite scoring 12 goals, 40 assists for 52 points in 76 games, it was the fewest points he has scored since his rookie season.
By Kopitar’s standards, those numbers were low, considering that the Kings’ captain averaged 69 points in his previous three seasons.
Overall, the Kings struggled to score as a team collectively, averaging only 2.43 goals per game good enough for 24th overall in the NHL.
A part of the reason for Kopitar’s down year might be tied to the strict defensive system employed by former Kings’ head coach Darryl Sutter.
With John Stevens now at the helm, we should see him give his players more offensive freedom to generate offense. For that reason, the Slovenian should have a bounce-back year in 2017/18.
3) How much does Mike Cammalleri have left?
The LA Kings had an awfully quiet off-season. With very little free cap space, they were unable to make any big-name signings.
In any case, they brought back former Los Angeles Kings’ forward, Mike Cammalleri on a one-year, $1 million deal.
Cammalleri is coming off two mediocre seasons with the New Jersey Devils and finished last season with only 10 goals, and 31 points in 61 games.
To Cammalleri’s defense, he played on a horrible Devils team last year.
He comes into a better situation in Los Angeles and has a chance to play with two elite centers in Anze Kopitar and Jeff Carter.
Now the real question is whether the veteran still has any game left at this level.
Perhaps playing with better players can bring the best out of Cammalleri and help him revive his game. At the same time, if he is able to find his scoring touch, he will help improve the Kings’ goal-scoring next season.
4) Can any young players make an impact on the roster?
The Kings have faltered a bit with age over the past three seasons. They looked to have trouble keeping up with the younger teams in NHL including the Arizona Coyotes, Edmonton Oilers, Calgary Flames, and the Nashville Predators.
With core players, Jeff Carter, Anze Kopitar, Dustin Brown, Marian Gaborik, and Alec Martinez all 30 years or older, the Kings are in desperate need of more youth in their lineup.
In fact, over the past few years, they haven’t really had much youth come in and make a major impact on their team. Quite frankly, that needs to change if they want to stay competitive in the Western Conference.
Ideally, if players like Adrian Kempe, Paul LaDue, and Kevin Gravel are able to step up and make a big impact on the team next year, it will go a long way in keeping the Kings afloat.
Meanwhile, players like Tanner Pearson and Tyler Toffoli will need to take another step forward if LA wants to go anywhere in 2017/18.
5) Can John Stevens help this team make the playoffs again?
Despite former head coach Darryl Sutter’s success in the past, Los Angeles felt like it was time for a change.
Not scoring enough goals has been the Kings’ Achilles heel for the past few seasons. Management seems to think John Stevens’ new coaching philosophy will be able to fix that.
We should see the Kings play a less risk-free, and less suffocating defensive-style than years past. In that, Stevens will likely implement a style that allows his players more opportunities to flourish offensively.
It will be interesting to see this new era under the guidance of Blake and Stevens can turn things around and make the Los Angeles Kings a playoff team again.
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