Dobber's offseason fantasy hockey grades – Los Angeles Kings
For the last 15 years (12 with The Hockey News, last year’s via pinch-hitter Cam Robinson) Dobber has reviewed each team from a fantasy-hockey standpoint and graded them.
The 16th annual review will appear here on DobberHockey throughout the summer. This is not a review of the likely performance on the ice or in the standings, but in the realm of fantasy hockey.
Impact of changes – One player. All the difference. Kovalchuk is a first line left winger who injects scoring depth onto the roster in a big way. Using the Frozen Tools NHLe calculator on Kovalchuk’s KHL stats (go here for the tool), his numbers pro-rate to 71 points last season and 77 points the season prior (82 NHL games). His last season in the NHL pro-rated to 69 points in 82 games, so if you use something in the mid-60s for 2018-19 you won’t be too far off, since he’s another year older (35).
The smart money is on Kovalchuk slotting in on Anze Kopitar’s line along with Dustin Brown, bumping Alex Iafallo to the third line. That’s also where I’m leaning. But it’s not 100%, it’s actually closer to 55%. A big part of me thinks that Kovalchuk jumps onto Jeff Carter’s line with Tyler Toffoli, which bumps Tanner Pearson down to the third line. For one, Kopitar is coming off his best season yet and Brown is coming off a huge rebound year. Why mess with the dynamics of that? Secondly, Iafallo’s fancy stats were really strong. Not only that, but his even strength production in the second half was better than Pearson’s. His IPP (individual points percentage) was also similar to Pearson’s, which means that when points were scored while he was on the ice, he was a part of it as much as Pearson. This won’t mean a huge jump for Iafallo if he hangs onto that spot. If he only got 25 points there last year, with no PP time, he won’t do much better this year. But it should make you downgrade Pearson.
Brown should also be downgraded because the top PP unit went with three forwards – Kopitar, Carter and Brown. Now it will be Kopitar, Carter and Kovalchuk.
Ready for full-time – Other than depth players Mike Amadio and Jonny Brodzinski, who finished last season with the team and have little fantasy value, I don’t have anyone new as a lock to make the team with the exception of goaltender Jack Campbell. The Dallas castoff had a solid couple of seasons for LA’s AHL affiliate Ontario. Last year his first half was absolutely tremendous, but then he stumbled in the second half along with the rest of the Reign. Things were great again once he got recalled for several starts with the Kings late in the season, when he stopped 134 of 145 shots for a 2-0-2 record. The 26-year-old was an 11th overall pick back in 2010 – a rare goaltender selection in the top 15. (Read Campbell's scouting report here)
But what if Campbell struggles? Jonathan Quick is used to a heavy workload, having started 64 games or more five times in his career including last season. But he’s also had serious injuries take him out of the lineup for much of a season twice in the last five years. The goalie that the Kings tap as their hopeful future number one is Cal Petersen. Petersen isn’t ready yet and could use the full season as Ontario’s full-time starter. He had split last season with Campbell. But if he’s doing well down there and the Kings need him due to a struggling Campbell and a Quick injury, then Petersen is one to keep an eye on. (Read Petersen's scouting report here)
Defenseman Daniel Brickley was highly sought after as a UFA in college. The Kings got him to turn pro a year early and he picked up an assist in his only game with them. He’ll compete with last year’s free agent defenseman signing, Oscar Fantenberg, for the final roster spot on D. Both rearguards have offensive upside and whichever one wins the full-time role will see secondary PP time. (Read Brickley's scouting report here)
The three top prospects in the system – centers Gabe Vilardi, Jaret Anderson-Dolan and defenseman Kale Clague – are each about one year away. However, that’s not to say that one or two of them won’t see a handful of games after training camp as a trial run. Vilardi may be the Kings’ top prospect, but he missed much of last season injured and so to me he is the least likely to see a few NHL games in October.
Los Angeles Kings prospect depth chart and fantasy upsides can be found here (not yet ready for mobile viewing, desktop only right now)
Fantasy Outlook – The Kings were 17th in goal scoring last season under Coach John Stevens, which is a nice upgrade from 29th under Darryl Sutter. And now they add Ilya Kovalchuk. So a slightly below average offensive team gets bumped up to average. The prospect system also looks to be average in terms of fantasy potential, at all positions. Goaltending is above average as Quick proves again and again to be one of the better options when he’s not hurt.
Fantasy Grade: C+ (last year was C)
Other Fantasy Grades:
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- Top 10 Players With an Inflated Shot Percentage in 2018-19
- Fantasy Take: Soderberg traded to Arizona
- Wild West Summer Series 2019: Chicago
- Eastern Edge: Potential landing spots for Duchene and Panarin
- Fantasy Hockey Podcast: Runaround Subban