Dobber's offseason fantasy hockey grades – Los Angeles Kings
For the last 16 years (12 with The Hockey News) Dobber has reviewed each team from a fantasy-hockey standpoint and graded them.
The 17th 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.
Incoming – Mario Kempe, Martin Frk, Joakim Ryan, Coach Todd McLellan
Impact of changes – It’s only one man’s opinion here, but anyone would be an upgrade in coaching over Desjardins. Especially when considering it from a fantasy standpoint, which obviously thrives on offense. Will McLellan bring that? As already noted, anyone would be better than Desjardins. Anze Kopitar for 60 points? Jeff Carter at 33 points? Really? Push Ilya Kovalchuk to play more defense? Seriously? Sure, let’s hitch that plow to this new Ferrari. Makes sense.
That nonsense stops. Whatever product ends up on the ice under McLellan, win or lose, at least it will score more. This would be most felt by owners of the aforementioned three, as well as the likes of Tyler Toffoli and Adrian Kempe.
Ready for full-time – Nikolay Prokhorkin was a highly-regarded fourth-round draft pick from 2012. He was a boom-or-bust pick with higher upside but a good chance of either not developing or just staying in Russia. Now 25, Prokhorkin definitely developed in the KHL. He posted a point-per-game last season and the Kings were thrilled to get him under contract after the season. The Kings need a scoring winger desperately, so you know he won’t be held back. The job is there for him if he can seize it. You can read more on Prokhorkin here.
Carl Grundstrom is a hard-hitting winger with some untapped potential offensively. The next generation Dustin Brown? In 15 games for the Kings to end the season, Grundstrom had six points in 38 (!) Hits and really showed that he belonged. He’s not the type of player to sit back and lose a roster spot so look for him to push hard in camp. A solid fantasy asset if your league counts Hits (duh).
The 24-year-old defenseman Sean Walkerearned himself a spot in the second half last season, showing great poise in his own end. A defense-minded coach such as Desjardins really started leaning on him for defensive-zone starts, which bodes well for Walker’s NHL future. He does have 20- or even 30-point ability in the right circumstances, but is not draftable in fantasy leagues at this time. Consider him a potential 20-point, 80-PIM No.5 stay-at-home type.
Jaret Anderson-Dolan made the team initially last year. He is a two-way forward, strong at both ends of the ice, and is a future stalwart on the penalty kill. He has great work ethic and that should see him make the team sooner, rather than later. He will probably play at least the first half in the AHL. Long term he has a future on the second line.
The undrafted Matt Luff was signed as a free agent by the Kings in 2016. After a couple of modest seasons in the OHL and then AHL, he really broke out last year when he picked up 31 points in 36 AHL contests. It earned him four call-ups where he totalled 11 points in 33 games for the big club. He’s on the short list for getting called up again, but is 50-50 on making the team out of training camp. But he’s the type of player who will work hard to stay up and could surprise.
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 only scored 202 goals last season, a dismal number that beat only one team (Anaheim). Look for that to increase by at least 10% just from the coaching alone. It’s not as if McLellan is ‘Johnny Offense’, but he’s certainly better than Desjardins in that sense. If Prokhorkin works out and Kopitar becomes Kopitar again, that should be more than enough to put more pucks in the net. But team lacks scoring depth, and both Carter and Kovalchuk are aging. Goaltending is unreliable, with Jonathan Quick always getting hurt and Jack Campbell unproven. I do like prospect goalie Cal Petersen, but he’s a year away and also unproven. The prospect pipeline is above average, bolstered by a strong draft this summer. Alex Turcotte, Anderson-Dolan, Gabe Vilardi, Rasmus Kupari, Grundstrom, Arthur Kaliyev, Prokhorkin and Luff all make my Top 90 when it comes to fantasy prospect forwards. The ship is turning around, but they’ve only just begun and it’s too soon to start investing in a bunch of Kings’ players at this time.
Fantasy Grade: C+ (last year was C+)
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