The Los Angeles Kings were bad last season and they did not get much better this offseason. They finished ten games under .500 last season. As bad as the Willie Desjardins coached team was, the 2019-20 edition could be even worse.
That also will not guarantee a top draft pick and Los Angeles dropped when the lottery balls came. However, the odds increase just enough to make it a gamble. Even the Ottawa Senators who finished with the worst record traded their pick and Colorado wound up with that fourth pick overall.
Anyway, let us take a quick look at some of these possibilities.
First, Jonathan Quick continues to play poorly
Few teams have this problem with three starting or close to starting goaltenders. Quick is the franchise netminder, but at 33., has shown signs of wear and tear. He posted a sub-.900 save percentage and a goals-against average approaching 3.4. Meanwhile, Jack Campbell and Calvin Petersen produced better results and at a much cheaper pay rate.
The biggest dilemma involves Quick’s salary which comes in at $5.8 million and four years of term. It is not easy money to get rid of and few teams will take on a deal like this without a sweetener or two tossed in for good measure.
If Quick cannot be moved, he will continue to be the 1A at least for the foreseeable future. The longer that goes on, the worse Los Angeles may be.
Second, Ilya Kovalchuk continues to play like he is untradeable
Last year, it was mostly based on coaching decisions. However, at the tail end of the season. Kovalchuk lost a step or two speed wise and he got killed as a result possession wise and worse. While 12 points in the final 24 games is not terrible, it’s not worth $6.25 million per season over the next two campaigns.
Kovalchuk knows he must play better but can he at this point? Players in their mid-30’s just tend to lose their ability and the Russian sniper just did not have his speed ball err shot last season. Kovalchuk is far from the older elder statesman on the team who deserves some blame.
Third, Anze Kopitar and Dustin Brown drop in their level of performance
Offensively, the duo was not terrible as they combined for 111 points. Kopitar totaling just 60 points was troubling but the team defense fell apart in such a way that it won’t be put together anytime soon. Some can argue that Dustin Brown’s season was a bit of a fluke as his drop-off continues.
Riding players like this never ends well and this season could prove to be even worse for Los Angeles. Also, it does not help that the Kings have issues when it comes to developing prospects. Even top picks now may not help this team for several years down the road.
Fourth, Drew Doughty continues to sulk instead of playing hockey
It became rather painful to watch last season as the season went south on Los Angeles and Doughty, in particular. No one likes losing but Doughty was more a reason for the poor play than anyone could have imagined. He was just on the ice for way too many goals against while making a copious number of turnovers.
It is not comforting to know the Kings are paying him $11 million AAV for the next eight seasons. Yes, that extension kicked in this year. The only remaining question is when does Doughty become expendable if he plays like last season?
Finally, the coaching and management still have few answers
Alas, Los Angeles added very little to give fans any optimism. If anything by standing mostly pat, they made their situations worse. The new talent brought in almost looks as inept coaching wise as last season.
Expectations are quite low for a team who could struggle again to even reach 70 points. It is hard to believe that five years ago, Los Angeles won their second Stanley Cup in three seasons. That seems like decades ago. Los Angeles will need to sell wisely at the deadline and hope for the best next summer.
By Chris Wassel