Los Angeles Kings

Complete Guide to the Los Angeles Kings' 2014 Offseason

Jonathan WillisNHL National ColumnistJune 15, 2014

Complete Guide to the Los Angeles Kings' 2014 Offseason

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    Harry How/Getty Images

    The Los Angeles Kings are the NHL's 2014 Stanley Cup champions.

    General manager Dean Lombardi doesn't have much time to revel in the accomplishment, though. The busiest part of his preparations for the 2014-15 season will begin nearly immediately, and for most of the next month, he'll be busy tweaking his roster and working to improve the NHL's best team.

    What lies ahead? Read on for our offseason primer.

Season Wrap-Up

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    Harry How/Getty Images

    Top Performers

    There is a long list of players here. Anze Kopitar and Drew Doughty are the twin engines that drive the team up front and on the back end. Kopitar is supported by a stellar cast too long to list here, while Jake Muzzin's emergence was a major factor on defence. 

     

    Biggest Disappointments

    Mike Richards' two-way game has been slipping for a while, and the pricey centre found himself on the fourth line as the playoffs developed. Dustin Brown managed just 27 points in the regular season. Robyn Regehr was supplanted as Doughty's regular partner, and Matt Greene struggled to hold down a top-six job.

     

    Final Assessment

    The Kings won the Stanley Cup. That's a nice way to finish the season. 

Biggest Storylines to Follow

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    Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

    What happens to Mike Richards? 

    A rumoured buyout candidate, per The Globe and Mail's  Richards is likely on his way out of L.A. one way or the other this summer. The question is whether that exit comes via buyout or trade. 

     

    Does Dean Lombardi remake the defence? 

    To the extent that the Kings had a playoff weakness, it was their defensive depth, which at times was exposed by other teams (in particular the Chicago Blackhawks). Lombardi has the option of maintaining the status quo or working aggressively to shore up his second and third pairing. 

     

    Where does the Cup go? 

    The organization now gets a summer of touring with the Stanley Cup, and its travels will doubtless be a big part of the offseason story for L.A. 

Notable Players Hitting Free Agency

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    Marian Gaborik

    Gaborik was an instant hit in Hollywood, scoring 14 goals to lead the league in the postseason. The top-line forward can play either left or right wing and added the dynamic scoring touch that Los Angeles hadn't often had at its disposal. 

     

    Willie Mitchell

    The veteran defender is slowing down but was still good enough to play the No. 4 role on a championship blue line. At 37 years of age, a lesser role may be in the cards next season.  

     

    Others

    D Andrew Campbell, F Colin Fraser, D Matt Greene, D Jeff Schultz

Top Free-Agent Targets

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    Brian Babineau/Getty Images

    Marian Gaborik

    If not him, the Kings need a player exactly like him. Gaborik fit in seamlessly, so why mess with success? The 32-year-old appears content in Los Angeles and said via NHL.com's Dan Rosen, "The locker room was great. You cannot win without a good locker room, and these guys are unbelievable. I'm very happy to be a part of it." Keeping him happy and in Southern California will be a priority for the Kings this offseason. 

     

    Thomas Vanek

    If for whatever reason it proves impossible to re-sign Gaborik, the Montreal Canadiens' Vanek would bring to the roster a similar skill set and finishing ability.

     

    Brett Bellemore

    With Matt Greene heading for free agency, the Kings have an opening for a right-shooting defender on their third pairing. Carolina's Bellemore replaces the size and physical game of Greene and is in the prime of his career rather than slipping out of it. 

Best Options in the NHL Draft

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    Dennis Pajot/Getty Images

    As the Stanley Cup champions, the Kings are blessed with a terrible draft pick. Normally it would be 30th overall, but the NHL's punishment of the New Jersey Devils for the Ilya Kovalchuk fiasco bumps it up to 29th.

     

    Josh Ho-Sang

    Projected to go 29th overall on the midseason list from TSN's Bob McKenzie, Ho-Sang produced major offensive totals in the Ontario Hockey League this year and fills a positional need (centre) on the Kings' prospect depth chart. He lacks size, but L.A. hasn't been afraid in years past to draft smaller players.  

     

    Robby Fabbri

    Much like Ho-Sang, Fabbri is a smallish pivot putting up crazy numbers in the OHL. Ranked 30th on McKenzie's list, his production over the last half of the season may mean he's gone when the Kings pick. 

Players Who Should Be Put on the Trading Block

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    Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

    Mike Richards

    Assuming he isn't bought out, the Kings would be well-advised to move the struggling forward whose contract has six years left on it at an annual cap hit of $5.75 million.  

     

    Trevor Lewis

    The mediocre Lewis finished last among the Kings' regular forwards in postseason scoring and has had ugly underlying numbers for a few seasons now. With a $1.525 million cap hit, he's also an expensive option for the fourth line. There's generally a market for Cup-winning role players, and Lombardi could do the Kings a favour by trading an easily replaceable player for a draft pick. 

Top Trade Targets

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    Graig Abel/Getty Images

    The Kings actually have a reasonable amount of cap space to play with, even after a presumed Gaborik signing, and that gives them some options over the summer. Their biggest need is probably a second-pairing left-shooting defenceman. 

     

    Carl Gunnarsson

    The Toronto Maple Leafs seem to be looking to upgrade up front, and a Gunnarsson-for-Mike Richards trade seems like the kind of foolishness they might indulge in. The money is a bit of a problem, but not an unworkable one, and Gunnarsson would be a nice partner for Slava Voynov.

     

    Martin Marincin

    The Edmonton Oilers have worlds of cap space and just might be desperate enough to be suckered into taking Richards as they work to upgrade their forward corps. 

Prospects Most Likely to Debut in 2014-15

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    Noah Graham/Getty Images

    Linden Vey

    Vey got into 18 games at the NHL level in 2013-14. He wasn't great but wasn't terrible either. He's an exceptional scorer at the AHL level and could make the jump to the majors full time next season. 

     

    Brayden McNabb

    A big, tough defender acquired in a trade with the Buffalo Sabres, McNabb already has some NHL experience and could break camp on the Kings' blue line. 

     

    Derek Forbort

    Another big defender, Forbort was L.A.'s first-round pick in 2010 and is another likely call-up if the Kings need help on the back end. 

Projected 2014-15 Depth Chart

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    Jeff Gross/Getty Images

    Forwards

    • [Marian Gaborik]—Anze KopitarJustin Williams
    • Tanner Pearson—Jeff Carter—Tyler Toffoli
    • Dwight King—Jarret StollDustin Brown
    • Kyle Clifford—[veteran C]—Trevor Lewis
    • Spares: Jordan Nolan, Linden Vey

    Defence

    • Jake Muzzin—Drew Doughty
    • Robyn Regehr—Slava Voynov
    • Alec Martinez—[right-shooting D]
    • Spare: Brayden McNabb

    Goal

    • Jonathan Quick
    • Martin Jones

     

    Salaries and statistics courtesy of CapGeek.com and NHL.com, respectively.

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