Predicting Los Angeles Kings' Overachievers and Underachievers for 2013-14
The Kings’ core is intact, and a few young players have been added, meaning there will be high expectations for individual players as well as the team. Many players will live up to expectations, while some will be considered overachievers or underachievers.
Here is a closer look at who those players may be.
Stats courtesy of NHL.com.
Contract information courtesy of CapGeek.com.
Overachiever: Matt Frattin
Matt Frattin was a key piece in the trade that sent Jonathan Bernier to the Toronto Maple Leafs in late June. That may serve as added motivation for the 25-year-old, who has appeared in just 82 career NHL games.
Frattin has worked hard to develop the skills to be a complete player, albeit on the second or third line. He is quick, has an accurate wrist shot and decent puck-handling skills.
Frattin finished with seven goals and six assists for 13 points in 25 games with the Maple Leafs last season. You can expect him to be in the lineup throughout 2013-14 and tally at least 30 points.
There should be little doubt that, at a cap hit of $925,000 (some of which Toronto retained), Frattin will be an overachiever next season.
Underachiever: Drew Doughty
Drew Doughty racked up 59 points and became one of the youngest Norris Trophy finalists in NHL history in 2010.
He would miss most of training camp the following season as contract negotiations wore on. Eventually, Doughty and the Kings agreed on an eight-year, $56 million contract, which carries a cap hit of $7 million.
Naturally, there will be high expectations for a player who is among the league’s highest-paid defensemen.
Doughty has been a force for the Kings in recent years, but he hasn’t been one of the NHL’s elite blueliners. He was outside of the top 25 in both points and plus/minus last season, despite appearing in all 48 games. While he was injured, Doughty failed to make the same impact in the 2013 playoffs as he did during L.A.’s 2012 Stanley Cup run.
Doughty will be a strong performer in 2014, but not enough to live up to his $7 million cap hit. Therefore, he will be labelled as an underachiever.
Overachiever: Kyle Clifford
At just 22 years old, Kyle Clifford, a second-round draft pick in 2009, already has three seasons of NHL experience.
After spending almost as much time in the penalty box as he did on the ice in his first two seasons, Clifford made changes to his game in 2013. He maintained his physical edge, recording 155 hits, but took fewer penalties and provided some offensive depth.
Now, Clifford is poised to have a breakout season in 2014, potentially playing alongside Mike Richards or Jarret Stoll.
Don’t be surprised if Clifford pushes toward the 20-goal mark and tallies over 30 points, to go along with nearly 200 hits.
Underachiever: Dustin Brown
Dustin Brown signed an eight-year, $47 million contract extension this offseason. Expectations will be as high as ever for the Kings' captain heading into the upcoming season.
Brown will without a doubt continue to be a strong leader, but with a cap hit that will rise to over $5 million in 2014-15, he needs to start producing offensively as well. Although he isn’t the fastest or most skilled player on the team, playing alongside the likes of Anze Kopitar and Justin Williams gives Brown plenty of chances to light the lamp.
However, Brown hasn’t reached the 30-goal mark or topped 60 points since the 2007-08 campaign. He also failed to follow up on a brilliant playoff performance in 2012, notching just four points in 18 postseason games in 2013.
Brown is a gritty two-way player, but playing on one of the team’s top lines, he should be expected to contribute consistently on offense. For that reason, Brown will be an underachiever.