The Los Angeles Kings’ season ended with a 5-1 loss to the Colorado Avalanche yesterday. The Kings finished with a 21-28-7 record, marking the third season in a row in which the team has failed to reach the playoffs.
For a while, however, it looked like the Kings could actually contend for a playoff spot with the way things were shaping up in the division. Up front, veterans led the charge, though we saw steps taken by the likes of Adrian Kempe and Trevor Moore. Gabriel Vilardi also took on a full-time role in the NHL, while Andreas Athanasiou fit well and we saw other young forwards getting a chance in the lineup as well.
However, there was still a severe lack of goals, with the Kings finishing with fifth-lowest goals per game average of any NHL team. We can expect that to change as younger prospects enter the lineup and take on larger roles but this year, offense was an issue.
Defensively, the Kings still had some growing pains with an inexperienced defense group. Drew Doughty had a pretty huge year and continued to be majorly counted on in all situations. Mikey Anderson took on a large role in his rookie year and handled it fairly well, while Tobias Bjornfot also made the jump to the NHL, though he did take on a smaller role.
Coming into the season, I was hoping that Matt Roy and Sean Walker would prove capable of taking on larger roles. However, Roy wasn’t able to take a major step and his expected goals for percentage plummeted from last season (according to NaturalStatTrick.com). Walker’s role at even strength was actually reduced and while he did add offense, it seems as though his ceiling in the lineup has been set.
In net, Cal Petersen cooled off a bit near the end of the year but overall, he took a key step this season, taking on a much higher number of games. Petersen’s .911 save percentage in 35 games – especially when factoring in some of the chances the team gives up on a consistent basis – is fairly impressive.
As far as I’m concerned, despite a rough final stretch of games, this was a successful season for the Kings. This team is still in a rebuild and patience is the most important thing for the team and management group. Los Angeles took steps towards being more competitive but it’s still going to be a couple of years before they’re truly contending again.
That’s what makes Drew Doughty’s comments today somewhat interesting. Doughty essentially said he wants the Kings to make some big moves in the offseason to put together a more competitive team.
Drew Doughty in his exit interview said he absolutely wants to see the team bring guys in and can’t wait for prospects to develop. He also praised Mikey Anderson for his play, their chem, and his leadership in the room. For a rook, that’s big.
If I’m management, however, I’m not making any moves to be more competitive right now unless it will also help the team long-term. Giving up assets to add older players would be completely counterproductive to what the team is looking to do.
So unlike Doughty, I’m pretty content with where the Kings are at right now. The worst of the rebuild seems to be over and now it’s time to start seeing Los Angeles’ prospects making an impact in the NHL, though it’ll still take time to see significant results.
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Do you think the Kings should look to make major additions in the offseason?