September 29, 2013 by andymisek
Our final four consists of the final four from last year, and how could it not? Los Angeles could still be suiting up 16 players from their 2012 Stanley Cup winning team. The loss of Jonathan Bernier might end up hurting LA in the long run, but not enough to knock them out of the top four. That is why the LA Kings finish 4th on our NHL Season Countdown.
The Kings moved their 2013 pick at the 2012 trade deadline in the acquisition of Jeff Carter. Their biggest move was trading Jonathan Bernier to Toronto for Matt Frattin, Ben Scrivens and a 2nd round pick. Jonathan Quick and Jonathan Bernier were arguable the best goaltending duo in the NHL, however, Matt Frattin will add another dimension to an already prolific offense in Los Angeles. Having Scrivens as the back-up will force Quick to play more games. Quick will be a genuine 70-game work horse starting this season.
The Kings also lost a few other players to free agency. Rob Scuderi and Dustin Penner are the major losses on July 5th. Matt Frattin should be able to fill Dustin Penner’s role (and then some) slotting on the 2nd or 3rd line. Rob Scuderi, however, might be a little tougher to replace. He isn’t the most skilled player, but he isn’t afraid to get in the way of shots and play the penalty kill. Skuderi also developed chemistry with Drew Doughty.
When Anze Kopitar and Mike Richards are your one-two punch down the middle, you know you have a productive offense. Kopitar is capable of scoring 70-80 points and winning a Selke Trophy (Best Defensive Forward). Lining up with captain Dustin Brown and Justin Williams will give the Kings a top line capable of taking a team to the Stanley Cup.
On the 2nd line, Richards will be lining up with long time buddy Jeff Carter. Back from their days at the 2003 draft, growing up through the Philadelphia Flyers, being trading to separate teams and yet finding themselves both on LA later that season, Carter and Richards have develop great chemistry on and off the ice. Rounding out that top six could be anyone from Matt Frattin, to Daniel Carcillo to Dwight King.
Jarret Stoll isn’t a shabby center either. He is one of the best 3rd line centers in the league and he could be lining up with Matt Frattin and Tyler Toffoli on his wings. Toffoli didn’t take long to impress everyone in LA with 5 points in 10 games. Giving him time on the third line will allow him to build into the dynamic forward he is capable of becoming.
LA’s big guns on defense are exciting to watch. Drew Doughty has already won a Stanley Cup and Olympic gold medal at 23 years old and hasn’t even entered his prime yet! Doughty will be paired with Robyn Reghr who plays a similar game to Rob Scuderi, and is hoping to create great chemistry with Doughty. If not, Willie Mitchell or sophomore Jake Muzzin could see more time on the top pairing.
Another interesting piece is Slava Voynov who really turned up his game during the playoffs scoring 6 goals and 13 points in 18 games. Voynov should be ready to see more time on the power play and be more responsible for offensive production on the point. He is capable of being the number 2 go to guy on the point after Doughty. At only 23 years old, Voynov has plenty of maturing ahead. Voynov and Doughty (and Muzzin as well) are the future of defense in LA.
Jonathan Quick is the work horse in net in LA with a massive contract. Expect him to steal a few games for the Kings, especially with the departure of Bernier. Ben Scrivens doesn’t have the capability to play up to the level of Bernier so Quick will have to take his game up another notch. With the defense LA has skating in front of him, that shouldn’t be an issue.
There are many reasons LA made it to the Western Conference Finals last year and they are expected to make another deep run into the playoffs this season . The Kings are perennial cup contenders and will continue to be a high caliber team in years to come. Kopitar, Brown, Doughty and Voynov are capable of running with the big guns in the Western Conference. Another year of cup or bust mentality in Los Angeles.