Fantasy Puck Preview: Los Angeles Kings

Scott Cullen

9/8/2009 9:42:18 AM

The Los Angeles Kings have been building around a strong young nucleus and, by augmenting with more established veterans, may be ready to challenge for a playoff spot, which certainly won't hurt production throughout the lineup.

22-year-old Anze Kopitar is the most promising scorer on the roster, tallying 204 points in his first three seasons, but he's also compiled a minus-44 rating over that time period, so he's not without his shortcomings. Kopitar has point-per-game potential and this could be the season that he begins to put up those consistent numbers.

Left winger Alexander Frolov seems to be hopelessly miscast in Los Angeles, not getting the premier ice time that his skills warrant, yet he still put up 32 goals, 59 points and 25 power play points last season. If he would get consistent playing time on Kopitar's wing, that may work best for both highly-skilled players.

Dustin Brown is a blue-collar performer who shows up night-in, night-out and, while he's not an elite producer, he's scored 57 goals and 113 points over the last two seasons. For those in leagues that reward hits, Brown is a veritable superstar.

The most prominent of the Kings' acquisitions in the offseason, Ryan Smyth may not be an exceptional scorer, but there's something to be said for consistency and Smyth has topped 50 points in nine straight seasons.

Jarret Stoll, who was teammates with Smyth in Edmonton, is a capable two-way player who can work the point on the power play, but his offensive production has tailed off dramatically since his concussion problems in 2006-2007, sliding from a career-best 68 points in 2005-2006 to the point that last year's 41 points was his best mark since.

Possibly the biggest wildcard among the Kings' top six forwards is right winger Justin Williams, a two-time 30-goal scorer who has run into a terrible string of injuries over the last two seasons, playing a total of 81 games, scoring 13 goals and 44 points in the process. If Williams gets a shot on Kopitar's wing, and can stay healthy, he could be a prime candidate for a bounceback season.

On the blueline, the Kings have set the bar awfully high for 19-year-old Drew Doughty, who logged more ice time than any rookie in the league last season. Doughty showed tremendous poise and scored 27 points as a freshman, but also posted a minus-17 rating, so he'll need to do more than just score more to become a high-end fantasy producer. The good news is that the talent is there for Doughty to accomplish that soon enough.

If there's another Kings defenceman worth considering for fantasy, it might as well be Jack Johnson, who was highly-touted coming out of the University of Michigan, but has struggled to this point in his career, notching 22 points and a minus-42 rating in 120 games. Johnson's still just 22 years of age, so he has time to mature into a productive top-four blueliner.

Seemingly out of nowhere, Jon Quick emerged as the Kings' number one goaltender last season and he would seem to be the odds-on-favourite to hold the position again this year. Erik Ersberg will push for playing time, but the real challenge could come from Jonathan Bernier, the 2006 first-round pick who put together a strong season with Manchester in the AHL in 2008-2009.

The uncertainty over the goaltending situation makes any selection risky, but should mean that either Quick or Bernier will provide nice value later in your draft.