One Prediction for Los Angeles Kings' Top Stars in 2013-14
The Los Angeles Kings' 2013-14 season is finally underway. The expectations for the team are clear, but what about the star players?
The roster is set with everyone healthy and ready for another strong season and deep playoff run. A few players may even be recognized for their individual efforts at the end of the season.
With that said, here are predictions for the LA Kings' stars.
Stats courtesy of NHL.com.
Jonathan Quick Wins the Vezina Trophy
Jonathan Quick had an average season in 2012-13. A season that, when we look back on his career, will likely be the only snag on an otherwise stellar resume.
Quick has already won the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP when he led the Kings to their first Stanley Cup in franchise history in 2012. Now, he's due to win the Vezina.
In 2011-12, Quick ranked in the top-five in both save percentage (.929) and goals-against average (1.95) playing on an LA team that underperformed throughout the season. Expect Quick to put up similar numbers, win 40 games and just beat out Henrik Lundqvist for the Vezina.
Anze Kopitar Notches 85 Points
Anze Kopitar has been the Kings' scoring leader in each of the past six seasons. That shouldn't surprise anyone. As a staple at center on LA's top line, Kopitar uses size, speed and excellent stickhandling ability to produce offensively.
What is surprising is that Kopitar has not yet averaged a point-per-game in a single season. His career-high 81 points in 2010 left him a tenth of a point shy, as he played in all 82 games. Look for Kopitar to best that total this season and lead the team in scoring for a seventh time with 85 points.
Kopitar will continue to log huge minutes both five-on-five and on the power play. He will also benefit from strong offensive performances from defensemen Drew Doughty and Slava Voynov. Don't forget, Kopitar is just entering the prime of his career at age 26.
Jeff Carter Scores 45 Goals
Jeff Carter isn't known for his playmaking abilities or for laying big hits. Instead, the 28-year-old is recognized for his quick release and incredibly accurate shot, which makes him one of the NHL's best snipers.
Carter finished fourth in the NHL with 26 goals in the lockout-shortened 2013 season. That put him on pace for about 44 goals in a 82-game campaign, just two shy of his career-high 46. This year he may match that total.
Carter will play the right side on a line centered by his good friend Mike Richards, as he did last season. On left wing will be a newcomer to the Kings, Matt Frattin. With Frattin working hard along the boards and digging pucks from the corners, and Richards as the setup man, Carter should have plenty of scoring opportunities.
Look for Carter to score consistently throughout the year, especially on the power play and finish with at least 45 goals.
Drew Doughty Earns Norris Nomination
Drew Doughty received a Norris nomination in 2010 after recording a career-high 16 goals and 43 assists for 59 points. He hasn't produced at the same rate in the three seasons since, but his play in the defensive zone has remained strong.
This being an Olympic year, expect Doughty to step up his game like he did in 2010 when he made the Canadian team as a 20-year-old.
Doughty has great speed, good puck-moving skills, a cannon of a shot and always plays with a physical edge. He may not top his career high in points, but a 50-point campaign combined with excellent defense should result in a second Norris nomination, not to mention a key role on Team Canada in February.
Mike Richards Has Team's Second-Highest Point Total
Richards can do it all and he's proven that at every level.
He's won a Stanley Cup, Calder Cup, Memorial Cup, Olympic Gold and World Junior Gold. And, while he's known more for his leadership abilities than his highlight reel, Richards is capable of putting up big numbers.
The 28-year-old led the Philadelphia Flyers in scoring twice, back when he and Jeff Carter were stars on that team. As previously noted, Carter will score early and often this season, playing on a line with Richards. Both players will have their best seasons in years, but it will be Richards who finishes with more points, as Carter once again puts up fewer assists than goals.
Look for Richards to exceed the 70-point mark for the third time in his career in 2013-14.