Early Projection for Los Angeles Kings' 2013-14 Depth Chart
With the 2013-14 season seemingly just around the corner, the Los Angeles Kings have skirted through the draft and the beginning of free agency without much noise.
Outside of a three-player trade with the Maple Leafs that landed them Ben Scrivens and Matt Frattin, and a departure of veteran defenseman Rob Scuderi, the Kings have remained out of the spotlight.
However, with a lot of players coming off fantastic AHL seasons and a lowering cap, the Kings' depth chart could be filled with a lot of position battles.
So what will the team look like next season? Here's an early projection of what the 2013-14 depth chart could look like.
Dustin Brown, Anze Kopitar, Justin Williams
Despite being probably two of the most disappointing playoff performers in 2013 for the Los Angeles Kings, it doesn't make sense to split up Anze Kopitar and Dustin Brown.
With only three goals in the final 34 games of the season, including playoffs, Kopitar slumped at the exact wrong time. Along with Kopitar being in a mega slump, Dustin Brown was battling through a torn PCL and Justin Williams was hampered by a separated shoulder.
The line was completely decimated through two incredibly physical series with the Sharks and the Blues, and looked it in the conference finals. That being said, this line has had continued success throughout its history together and should be the No. 1 line at the beginning of the season.
Jeff Carter, Mike Richards, Tyler Toffoli
Mike Richards was the best Kings forward in the playoffs, and the chemistry he showed with Jeff Carter throughout the regular season should make it a no-brainer keeping them paired together.
The new face on the line, at least to some degree, will be Tyler Toffoli. Dustin Penner has not been re-signed with the Kings, and it looks like the team is ready to move forward without acquiring a top-six wing.
The only ask here is getting Jeff Carter to play left wing instead of right. That shouldn't be a problem for Carter though, who played left wing on a few occasions this year and has done so in the past with Philadelphia as well.
Toffoli looks primed and ready for the big time after a stellar playoff performance, and pairing him with the superb playmaker in Mike Richards is just asking for success. Toffoli has a fantastic goal-scoring sense about him, and with two threats on either side in Carter and Toffoli and a dish master like Richards down the middle, this could be the Kings' most potent offensive line.
Matt Frattin, Jarret Stoll, Trevor Lewis
Stoll still figures as the team's primary shutdown centerman, and barring some sort of standout performances by the remaining team, Frattin and Lewis slot right in next to him.
It's actually a line that makes a whole lot of sense, and if Frattin can fit into the Kings' scheme, he and Lewis could give defenders fits. Both players play with a lot of speed and a tenacious forecheck. While not the most gifted offensive players, both were on pace for career seasons last year.
Lewis has recently elected arbitration with the Kings, but it seems he will be back with the team in all likelihood. Another concern with this line is the health of Jarret Stoll, who has been suffering some side effects from the concussion he suffered at the hands of Raffi Torres during the playoffs.
So despite seemingly being set, this line could change drastically from now to the start of the 2013-14 season.
Kyle Clifford, Linden Vey, Andy Andreoff
Yes, I'm going out on a limb here and calling for a youth movement on the bottom lines. While the more realistic fourth line will have Dwight King, Colin Fraser and Jordan Nolan in the mix, all three of those players had subpar playoff performances. All three were also healthy scratches at various times throughout the year.
On the flip side of things, Clifford grew from a sophomore slump and proved to be a pesky forward with the occasional skill goal, Linden Vey finished the season as the Monarchs' leading scorer, and Andy Andreoff looks to be another Kyle Clifford in the making.
Although not the biggest line, all three can skate, forecheck and score. It would be a difficult line to play against and could punish teams in multiple ways. As stated before, the reality is probably that one of Fraser, Nolan or King suits up in one of those three spots; it would be nice to see at least one of those young players in the mix.
Full-time NHL duty from two rookies is a big ask though. Also someone to keep an eye on is young Tanner Pearson, who might fit in at the bottom-line right wing spot as well.
Drew Doughty, Robyn Regehr
Slava Voynov, Willie Mitchell
Keaton Ellerby/Alec Martinez, Matt Greene
Obviously, the big caveat here is whether or not Mitchell is healthy and ready to go. If he isn't, Ellerby is likely looking at full-time duty, or at least a battle with Jeff Schultz for the final slot.
The rest of the lineup is pretty straightforward. The Kings love to go with a puck mover and a stay-at-home on the same combo. The only real battle will be between Ellerby and Martinez, who fought for the position last year as well. Depending on the night and the opponent, those two will likely split games and playing time on the third pairing.
There isn't a big secret reason here other than Jonathan Quick is a proven starter and Ben Scrivens is a proven backup. Scrivens was a great addition to the team, as Jonathan Bernier was not settled being an NHL backup and Ben Scrivens has had experience doing so with the Maple Leafs already.
He can steal you a few games here and there, but Jonathan Quick is still going to be the workhorse for this Kings team.
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