Los Angeles Kings: 6 Players Who Need to Step Up This Season

Gary LlewellinCorrespondent ISeptember 22, 2011

Los Angeles Kings: 6 Players Who Need to Step Up This Season

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    The Los Angeles Kings are on the verge of something great. They are one of the best teams in the West, and that is saying something in the stacked Western Conference.

    In order for them to live up to their now lofty expectations, they are going to need big years from all of their players.

    Here are six players in particular that need to step up this season.

Dustin Penner

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    Why not start with an obvious one? Penner has been a flop since coming over from the Edmonton Oilers at the trade deadline last year.

    He has had only one good season since his breakout campaign in 2006-2007, where he scored 29 goals.

    Penner has tremendous size and the ability to be a very good power forward in the NHL, but he has to be willing to work hard and use the tools he’s been given.

Dustin Brown

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    Not that he is not already a solid player and good leader, but in my mind Dustin Brown is not as good as he could be.

    He is a gritty forward who chips in around 30 goals every year and is always one of the leading hitters in the league.

    He has proven to be an inconsistent scorer, though.

    If the Kings are going to be a great team this year, it would not hurt if Brown pushed himself to be a 70-point threat and consistent scorer.

Drew Doughty

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    Drew Doughty has the potential to be one of the top defensemen in the league for a long time.

    He’s already had two seasons with more than 40 points and an Olympic Gold Medal at the age of 21.

    Despite all this, he wasn’t as good as he could have been last season. Many would agree he took a step back in his development.

    If the Kings are going to challenge for the cup, Doughty will need to progress to be a top tier defenseman this season.

Ethan Moreau

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    A late summer signing, Ethan Moreau adds an immediate boost to the Kings’ fourth line.

    He doesn’t have much offense to give, but he’s a hard worker and a good penalty killer.

    L.A. will need him to step up and be a leader for the Kings in the playoffs. As stacked as the Kings are, they’re still a young team and could definitely use a player like Moreau when the games start to really mean something.

Simon Gagne

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    With a lack of depth on the left wing and question marks around Penner, Gagne will be given a key role on the team.

    As one of L.A.’s top left wingers, he will need to prove he is better than he was in Tampa Bay.

    Gagne tends to shy away from physicality, but he is a solid defensive player and will be killing penalties for the Kings.

    A 30-goal season would be ideal from Gagne as he tries to return to the form that made him a star in Philadelphia.

Mike Richards

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    The Kings have invested a lot into Mike Richards, and he will need to deliver.

    Richards was brought in to be the second line centre behind Anze Kopitar and will be expected to put up quality numbers this year.

    Richards played the point on the power play in Philadelphia and kills penalties with aplomb. The only questions remaining revolve around his offense.

    He will need to be closer to the player that scored 80 points in 2008-2009 than the player last season who scored 66 points.

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