Ranking the 5 Most Important Players on the Los Angeles Kings' Roster
The Kings' depth is their greatest strength, but a few players still rise to the top of the list in terms of importance and value. If they weren't on the roster, the team's performance would suffer.
Take a look at the Kings' most important players as they prepare to defend their Stanley Cup title.
Honorable Mention: Justin Williams
The most valuable player during the Kings' 2013-14 Stanley Cup run deserves to be recognized.
Justin Williams was awarded the Conn Smythe Trophy after he finished with nine goals and 16 assists for 25 points. That put him in a tie for second in playoff points with Jeff Carter and one point behind Anze Kopitar.
Williams stepped up in the most crucial moments, as he has throughout his career. He racked up two goals and three assists for five points in three Game 7s.
So why doesn't he crack the top five? Williams is 32 years old. He doesn't regularly put up big numbers as a second- or third-line player or play in as many situations as the teammates ahead of him on this list.
5. Dustin Brown
Don't let Dustin Brown's poor performance in the 2013-14 regular season fool you. He is still and will continue to be one of the team's most important players.
L.A.'s captain rarely gets the credit he deserves for the leadership role he plays. He may not always appear to be vocal, but the physical impact he has each and every night certainly gets noticed by his teammates. Even when he was struggling offensively last season, Brown remained a force in all three zones, making big hits and forcing turnovers.
Brown is 29 years old and should return to form next season, scoring at least 20 goals and topping the 50-point mark. He is a solid all-around player and has been the heart and soul of the Kings for more than five years.
4. Jeff Carter
Jeff Carter is best known for his shot. The rest of his skill set is often downplayed, especially his skating.
He doesn't get the credit he deserves.
Carter comes in as the fourth-most important player ahead of forwards like Marian Gaborik and Justin Williams. Carter has shown he can make those around him better—look no further than That 70s Line. He can also play at a high level regardless of whether he's at center or wing or on the first, second or third line.
Most notably, he's pushed the Kings over the top since being traded from the Columbus Blue Jackets at the 2012 trade deadline.
Carter should be one of the Kings' top goal scorers and point producers next season, as usual.
3. Jonathan Quick
There was a time not long ago when Jonathan Quick would have been a lock as the Kings' most important player.
However, they have proved in the last two years that they can win without him, with netminders such as Jonathan Bernier, Ben Scrivens and Martin Jones in goal.
Quick comes in ranked third, given his performance in the playoffs and the fact that he's slated to be the starter in L.A. for a very long time. Not to mention Bernier and Scrivens are long gone, and Jones is young and inexperienced.
Quick is one of the best goaltenders in the world when he's in top form. His career save percentage is .915, and his goals-against average is 2.28.
2. Drew Doughty
So much of what the Kings do depends on Drew Doughty.
They have won two Stanley Cups playing a very similar brand of hockey. It involves puck possession, physicality and tough defense.
Doughty plays a big role in allowing the Kings to win the battle for puck possession. He creates turnovers in the defensive and neutral zones and consistently is the one carrying the puck up the ice.
He has a physical presence in all three zones, and even when he pinches, he can usually get back in position on defense without incident.
He played three minutes more than the next L.A. blueliner in 2013-14, averaging nearly 26 minutes per game.
1. Anze Kopitar
He is Mr. Everything.
Anze Kopitar has proved throughout his young career with the Los Angeles Kings that he can do it all. He can put up points, win faceoffs, play strong hockey without the puck in all three zones and excel in any situation.
Without Kopitar, the Kings would suddenly find themselves not as deep at center and lacking a pure playmaker and dominant faceoff man. They would also lose considerable leadership both on and off the ice.
He may not have won the Conn Smythe Trophy in 2012 or 2014, but it's hard to imagine the Kings hoisting the Stanley Cup without him.
Overall, he is the team's most valuable and most important player, coming in just slightly ahead of Doughty.
Stats courtesy of NHL.com.
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