For the last 14 years (12 with The Hockey News) Dobber has reviewed each team from a fantasy-hockey standpoint and graded them.
This year, due to Dobber’s battle with cancer, he recruited Cam Robinson (of Frozen Pool Forensics fame) to pinch hit. The 15th 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 – Michael Cammalleri, Darcy Kuemper, Cal Petersen, Christian Folin, Stepan Falkovsky, Bokondji Imama, Oscar Fantenberg, Alex Iafallo, John Stevens (Head Coach), Rob Blake (GM)
Impact of changes – The Kings appeared to make a shrewd move, adding Cammalleri to the mix for a mere million dollars after his being bought out by New Jersey. He should step right back onto to Anze Kopitar’s wing, and the Kings will hope they rekindle the magic that saw Cammalleri notch 34 goals and 80 points with LA back in 2006-07. The loss of Brayden McNabb will be felt in their defensive depth, but the additions of Folin and Fantenberg will ease that by pushing for bottom pairing jobs. Matt Greene was bought out of the final year of his contract and that could be an addition by subtraction situation. It is unlikely the team brings back unrestricted free agents, Jarome Iginla or the AHL-demoted, Teddy Purcell.
The Ben Bishop experiment was a clear mistake and the team is back to employing a true back-up (Darcy Kuemper) to watch Jonathan Quick from the bench. The biggest change is likely to come from the new regime at the helm. Gone are the Cup-winning formula of Lombardi and Sutter, replaced by their number twos who will look to open up play and get away from the low-event hockey that has been a mainstay in LA for so long.
Ready for full-time – the 29th overall selection from 2014, Adrian Kempe has gathered a nice haul of professional experience for a not-yet 21-year-old. 101 games in the SHL as a teenager followed by another 140 in the AHL. He’s never been a major point producer except for his two stints on the Swedish World Junior squad where he produced 16 points in 13 contests, as well as when he scored eight goals in 17 playoff games as a rookie on route to a Calder Cup victory in 2015 – so he knows how to show up when the games matter most. The powerful winger brings a very speed oriented game. He uses that skill to get in on the forecheck and engage physically to create turnovers. His hands have flashed the ability to match his feet, but it needs to happen with much more regularity. His future may lie more towards the middle six than the top six. Read more on Kempe here.
While it was a miserable year for the usually-perennial contenders, there was a positive finish to the 2016-17 campaign, and that occurred on the draft floor. The Kings were fortunate enough to select Gabe Vilardi with the 11th overall selection after the power pivot had been considered a consensus top five pick for the better part of two years. Vilardi is a late birthday who doesn’t turn 18 until later this month and could certainly stand another year in junior to develop, but he does possess the physical tools to withstand the pro game and could be a surprise player to make the club if he can bring it during camp. The Ontario native needs to work on his foot speed, but has the earmarks of a very productive top-six forward down the line. Read more on Vilardi here.
Fantasy Outlook – This is a team that possesses noteworthy names but likely those on the more over-rated site of the coin. Jonathan Quick is nearing 32 years-old, is coming off an injury-shortened season, and faces the prospect of a more open system which will promote further chances against. He hasn’t posted a save percentage above .920 since 2011-2012. With fewer wins being prognosticated, he is likely in the second half of starting goaltenders to own. Meanwhile, Drew Doughty is no sure bet to push for 50 points most years and shouldn’t be considered a top defender for your squad. Anze Kopitar will likely rebound after his typical slow-start ran long in 2016-17, and Jeff Carter remains a pretty safe bet for 55-60 points. Cammalleri and Tyler Toffoli will bring adequate depth but nothing to write home about. With very little in the way of impact players on the way and an aging core at the helm, it’s difficult to see this team scoring many more goals than a year ago. This is a club that was never a fantasy goldmine, and is now quickly seeing it’s relevancy diminish.
Fantasy Grade: C (Last year: C)
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