Each day in the month of August we’ll be examining a different NHL team — from looking back at last season to discussing a player under pressure to identifying X-factors to asking questions about the future. Today we look at the Los Angeles Kings.
31-42-9, 71 points (8th in Pacific Division, 15th in Western Conference)
Playoffs: Did not qualify
Todd McLellan — head coach
Willie Desjardins – head coach
2018-19 Season Summary
As far as seasons go, they don’t get much worse than the one the Los Angeles Kings just endured.
They couldn’t score (30th in goals-for), not even on the power play (27th at 15.8 percent) and they couldn’t stop much from going in (22nd in goals-against), and certainly not on the penalty kill (29th at 76.5 percent).
Ilya Kovalchuk‘s NHL return couldn’t save them — he was simply a massive bust.
Their highest goal-scorer had 22 goals, only two players had more than two goals and just one had more than 60 points. And Anze Kopitar‘s season paled in comparison to his 90-plus point campaign from the year previous.
Jonathan Quick forgot how to stop the puck, posting a tremendously ugly .888 save percentage, by far the worst numbers of his career.
The pain extended all the way to the draft lottery in June where the Kings could have selected, at worst, Kaapo Kakko, if the odds would play out to their 30th-place finish. Instead, they fell three places to the fifth-overall pick… one final kick in the pants.
And it hasn’t been much of an offseason, either.
Here are the moves that have been made since the beginning of the year, per Adam’s story:
- Traded Carl Hagelin, who had played only 22 games with the team after being acquired for Tanner Pearson, to the Washington Capitals for two mid-round draft picks
- Traded Nate Thompson, who had played only 79 games with the team, to the Montreal Canadiens for a fourth-round draft pick
- Traded Oscar Fantenberg, who had played only 74 games with the team, to the Calgary Flames for a conditional pick in 2020.
- Bought out the final two years of Dion Phaneuf’s contract
- Signed Joakim Ryan to a one-year deal in free agency
The pessimist fan will tell you it’s all doom and gloom right now and they’d be right. The Kings are used to being juggernauts in the Western Conference. Those days are long gone. Next season isn’t going to be pretty.
The optimist, meanwhile, will say the upcoming season — while nearly lost before it even has a chance to begin — is about the kids coming up and a lot of assets coming the team’s way around the trade deadline.
Pending free agents Tyler Toffoli, Trevor Lewis, Kyle Clifford and Derek Forbort could all be on different teams before the season is through. If a team gets really desperate for, say, a goaltender, shipping out Jonathan Quick may become a possibility, too.
That would all add up to cap space to be used up next summer, even with Phaneuf’s buyout hitting it for just over $4 million.
That should offer a glimmer of hope, at least, because there’s not much to suggest this coming season will be any better.