Connor Keith returns to the Down the Frozen River scene with this season preview of the Los Angeles Kings. This was written before final roster cuts were made, but the season came along quickly and I kind of failed as an editor when it came to posting things in a timely manner. But that shouldn’t make any of Connor’s analysis any less valuable! Enjoy.
Los Angeles Kings (46-28-8, third in division, sixth in conference, Stanley Cup champions)
After winning their second Stanley Cup in three seasons, GM Dean Lombardi & Head Coach Darryl Sutter are ready to make it three for four. Based on the roster changes made over summer, or lack thereof, the Kings are no doubt in a position to do just that. All of the players that played every game in the playoffs are still wearing black this season, which should strike fear into anyone in the Western Conference come April.
The goaltending situation remains as it did to close last season in Los Angeles, with Jonathan Quick & Martin Jones returning. Quick, who played in 49 games last season posted a 27-17-4 record, allowing only 100 goals last season for a save percentage of 91.5% & only 2.07 goals against. He posted six shutouts over the course of the regular season, making over 22% of his wins a result of keeping the opposition off the board. In the playoffs, he played in all 26 games for a save percentage of 91.1%, but saw an inflation in his goals against average (2.58, an extra half-goal per game). Two of his playoff wins were shutouts (12.5%).
Martin Jones played 19 games last season for a 12-6-0 record. He only allowed 33 goals for a save percentage of 93.4% & 1.81 goals against (both numbers stronger than Quick’s, but with a much smaller sample). Four of his wins were shutouts, meaning that greater than 33% of his wins were a result of the other team being held scoreless.
The Kings come into the season having lost very few big names, but the most notable is Willie Mitchell (signed with Florida).
They lost only one of the top 11 players with most regular season games with the Kings last season in Willie Mitchell (76) playing 76 regular season games last year. Additionally, they lost two of the top 20 players with the most playoff games with the Kings last season in Willie Mitchell (18) & Jeff Schultz (seven, has been sent back to Manchester). The Kings are adding players that can play most of a regular season, though, in Derek Forbort (74, 2010 draft pick), Vincent LoVerde (70, undrafted) & Scott Sabourin (69, undrafted).
The Kings are not bringing back only one of their top 16 shot takers this year as Willie Mitchell (73) is not returning. Mitchell accounted for fewer than three percent of the Kings’ shots last regular season, so his numbers will not be desperately missed in that perspective. More important than regular season numbers, Willie Mitchell is taking 23 shots from the post season to Florida. In the Kings’ quest for the Stanley Cup, he provided fewer than three percent of the Kings’ shots.
The top goal scorer from last season not returning to the Staples Center? Matt Frattin (traded to Columbus), who provided a whopping two goals (a little over one percent of all goals scored last season). The Kings have added Brian O’Neill (26, undrafted), Nick Ebert (13), Scott Sabourin (12), Colin Miller (5, 2012 draft pick), & Maxim Kitsyn (3, 2010 draft pick) to more than to make up for the missing goals.
One of the leading 14 assisters will not be with the Kings this season as Willie Mitchell (11) isn’t returning. To make up for this, the Kings have signed Nick Ebert (41), Brian O’Neill (21), Vincent LoVerde (18), Derek Forbort (16), Scott Sabourin (14), & Colin Miller (12). These new additions will spend most of this season in Manchester to further develop their skills.
Two of the top eight +/- guys in the regular season have been lost, including Willie Mitchell (14) & Jeff Schultz (10). Included in that, the Kings also lost Willie Mitchell’s 10 in the postseason, which led defensemen. To make up for these lost numbers, Los Angeles has signed Nick Ebert (53), Vincent Loverde (37), Brian O’Neill (31), & Derek Forbort (19).
The Kings lost two of the top six penalty minute earners in Willie Mitchell (58) & Daniel Carcillo (57). Sadly, the Kings picked up Scott Sabourin, who had minutes (115) equal to Mitchell & Carcillo combined. New hire Maxim Kitsyn only served two minutes in the sin bin last season (20 games), which averaged out to almost six seconds per game. This will be a huge asset to keep the Kings from defending the power play.
Present roster consists of 14 forwards, seven defensemen, & two goalies (23 men).