Man, the Kings could be in trouble very soon. Yes, they still have their superstar players but the roster gets thin very quickly. They were absolutely destroyed by their rival San Jose in the first round last season and it shouldn’t come as much surprise. The Sharks neutralized their top 6 and killed the Kings with their depth. While the actual team has question marks because Dean Lombardi can’t fill out a roster (just his team USA decisions), there are still plenty of fantasy studs on this team along with a couple interesting players. Let’s take a look at what they’re working with:
Jonathan Quick is the Eli Manning of the goaltending position. He’s an average player who had two incredible runs to lead his team to championships. Amazingly, he was starting on team USA when they have two goalies who are clearly better than him. Anyways, outside of his crazy 2011-12 which still boosts his reputation, Quick is actually coming off one of his best regular seasons with a 2.22 GAA and .918 sv% (still worse than his USA teammates). That also came with 40 wins in 68 starts making him the #5 goalie last season. Why is he 8th in my ranks and he’ll be dropping to 10 when they’re updated? Quick just simply isn’t as good as the goalies in front of him. He’s been helped for years playing on a great team like the Kings in a horrible division but I really have my doubts about this roster. Quick is 41st in my rankings but he’ll be at 43rd once they’re updated behind the two goalies after him. He’s still a #1 but we saw his best season last year as the #5 goalie. Don’t take him earlier than that because the upside isn’t there.
The Kings signed Jeff Zatkoff over from Pittsburgh to be the backup goalie. While the goals against average was poor for the Penguins, the save percentage was a strong .917. I’d look to stream him almost all of his starts.
Drew Doughty is coming off the best season of his career with 14 goals, 37 assists, +24, 52 PIM, 26 STP and 197 shots. That put him as the #5 fantasy defenseman and won him the Vezina, which is a complete joke. So why do I have him at 114th overall well below consensus? A few reasons. One, the goals are very fluky. Doughty scored nine power play goals which is one less than the three previous seasons combined. He’s not getting back to 14 goals and I’m not sure he even gets to 10. Two, his #5 spot in the rater was boosted largely because of his plus-minus. While Doughty has been a plus player for four straight seasons, two of them were +3 and +4. There’s no guarantee he comes close to +24. Lastly, his numbers are strong across the board but he’s not elite in any category. The assists are close as are the PPP (although I doubt he repeats that) but all the defensemen in front of him either make a massive difference in a category or two e.g. Shayne Gostisbehere or are simply better across the board e.g. Roman Josi. Doughty is a strong #2 fantasy defenseman but don’t draft him or count on him being a #1 again.
Last season, Jake Muzzin was a solid #2 fantasy defenseman with 40 points, strong shots and 64 PIM. I really like Muzzin as a #3 but there is risk taking him again as a #2. One, we don’t know what role on the power play he is going to have yet. Muzzin should be on the first unit but it’s not a guarantee. More importantly, his penalty minutes the last three seasons have been 64, 22 and 58. I don’t think they’ll drop that much again but if they do, then Muzzin is a #4 or worse with only 40 points. He’s a very nice pick in the middle rounds.
The only other defenseman close to being draftable is Alec Martinez. The Stanley Cup hero from 2014, Martinez set career highs with 10 goals and 21 assists last season. That came with a strong plus-minus, decent PIM and PPP but poor shots. It’s very bottom end so I probably wouldn’t draft him; I don’t have any issue with him as your #5 or #6 though in a 12’er. My biggest issue is I don’t think he’ll have the role necessary for him to be valuable in fantasy. It’ll take an injury to Doughty or Muzzin for that to happen.
Just like for the better part of the last decade, the Kings forwards start with their best player, Anze Kopitar. Kopitar bounced back strongly from a disappointing 2014-15 to score 25 goals and 49 assists while being +34. Almost as importantly, his shots went back up from a paltry 134 over 79 games to 177 over 81 games, still not average but close enough to it that it isn’t a big detriment. I have Kopitar 35th overall because it’s hard to count on the +34, the PIM are poor and it’s not great anywhere besides assists. Despite all of that, he’s still a 3rd round pick for me because it’s extremely dependable.
Jeff Carter is an incredibly boring fantasy player but what he does is still top 100 worthy. Carter scored 24 goals and 38 assists while taking over 3 shots per game. The PIM and PPP aren’t great but assuming you have that covered, his points and shots are a great fit in the 8th-9th round.
Carter’s linemate Tyler Toffoli is incredibly similar to Carter in value for fantasy purposes. Toffoli scored a career high 31 goals while getting 27 assists and being +35. He’s been +21 or better in his three full seasons but I’m still hesitant on guaranteeing him being that good in his fourth season. Toffoli isn’t a good power play player and the shots are merely average for an elite goal scorer. He’ll be ranked 101th in my updated rankings for his goal scoring prowess.
It’s crazy to think we’re done with guys who must be drafted but after three forwards, I think we are. They have three other guys worth considering: Marian Gaborik, Teddy Purcell and Tanner Pearson. If I’m taking the shot on one of these guys, it’s Gaborik. He’s a massive injury risk but he’s one year removed from 27+20 in 69 games. He’ll almost certainly play with Kopitar and if not, it will be Carter so he’ll play with a great center. I have him 192nd overall making him a late round flier I’m willing to drop after a slow start.
Pearson should remain with Carter and Toffoli assuming health for the three of them. Pearson scored 15 goals and 21 assists last season but the problem is he’s poor in the other categories. There are no PIM, the shots are well below average and he barely gets power play time. Pearson may sneak into my top 250 in case he does get the power play time but I’d prefer to stream him.
I’m a bit more intrigued by Purcell. Purcell finished with 14 goals and 29 assists last season between Edmonton and Florida. It’s not great anywhere else but there’s a chance for some improvement if he does play on Kopitar’s left wing. At the least, Purcell should be an elite streamer but he could work himself into a hold if Purcell sticks in the top 6.
I don’t see the upside for anyone in the projected bottom 6 to be drafted.
TOP 5 PROSPECTS (It’s a pretty horrible prospect pool)
1) Adrian Kempe
2) Michael Mersch
3) Michael Amadio
4) Wade Allison
5) Paul LaDue
That’s all for now guys. There’s only one season preview left, the Anaheim Ducks, which I plan on bringing to you guys either tomorrow afternoon or Wednesday morning. The goal is to have our next podcast on the Central Division out tomorrow morning so that will determine when the Ducks preview is posted. The top 250 should also be completed in the upcoming days. As always, feel free to ask any questions or leave any comments below. Take care!