2016-17 NHL Preview: Los Angeles Kings Aim for More Offense

kings

It’s now August and hockey is again just a month away, with the World Cup of Hockey in September, which means — yes — it is that time of the year again! This month we will be previewing each team’s 2016-17 season. Tonight, it’s the Los Angeles Kings.

Editor’s Note: While I am a Sharks fan at heart, I’m also a hockey fan, so fellow Sharks fans please don’t be alarmed that I’m doing a huge rival’s preview. It’s part of the job description.

Additions: Teddy Purcell, Jeff Zatkoff, Zach Trotman, Tom Gilbert, Michael Latta

Subtractions: Milan Lucic, Jamie McBain, Kris Versteeg, Luke Schenn, Jhonas Enroth

After winning two Cups in 2012 and 2014, it’s fair to say that the Los Angeles Kings have stalled a bit in their playoff success. They missed the postseason in 2015, and were ousted in the first round of the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs by the San Jose Sharks, who went on to be the defending Western Conference Champions. To further add insult to injury, the Kings were upset in five games.

The L.A. Kings lost a key player in Milan Lucic, who definitely added more physicality and scoring to their game. The loss of Kris Versteeg might also be felt as the left winger signed overseas with SC Bern in National League A of Switzerland. The loss of Jhonas Enroth as back-up means that Jeff Zatkoff takes over as Jonathan Quick’s back-up goalie. Zatkoff was 4-7-1 with a 2.71 GAA and .917 save percentage last season with the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Perhaps the biggest addition for the Kings was Teddy Purcell, who had 14 goals and 43 points in 76 games last season with the Edmonton Oilers and Florida Panthers. He began his NHL career with the L.A. Kings in 2007-08 and had a career-high of 24 goals with the Tampa Bay Lightning in 2011-12.

Zach Trotman had two goals, seven points, and 22 penalty minutes in 38 games with the Boston Bruins last season.

Tom Gilbert had two points and 12 penalty minutes in 45 games with the Montreal Canadiens.

Michael Latta joins the Kings from the Washington Capitals where he scored three goals and seven points in 43 games last season.

The L.A. Kings are definitely going to need more scoring if they’re going to move forward again in the playoffs. They could also use a little more help on the blue line, which was exposed in the series against San Jose when Alec Martinez was out with an injury. One other interesting factor is leadership. With Dustin Brown stripped of the captaincy, which was leaked early in the offseason and which he didn’t take too kindly to, Anze Kopitar takes over the leadership role. How will the Kings react to that? How will the chemistry in that locker room change? Also, does that make Dustin Brown expendable from the Kings roster? After all, there were immediate rumors of a possible buyout for the former captain. I think these are all questions that need to be considered.

With the potential leadership drama that general manager Dean Lombardi could have to deal with, there could be building frustration within that locker room throughout the season. I’d be very interested in seeing how this whole thing plays out. That said, the Los Angeles Kings are going to continue to be at a standstill. The addition of Purcell is great, but they need more contributions especially from their secondary offense. I think if Dustin Brown has yet another off year in production, we could see a potential move before or at the Trade Deadline.

Prediction: Los Angeles goes through another early playoff exit.

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