Part 9 in my "State of the Franchise" series.
Feel free to leave comments; I'm always willing to take feedback and I readily accept that I'm not the next Charles Dickens, so any constructive criticism would be great.
Current Rankings List:
22. Los Angeles
25. New Jersey
30. San Jose
#22: Los Angeles Kings
Top Fws: Anze Kopitar, Dustin Brown, Mike Richards
Top Ds: Drew Doughty, Willie Mitchell
Top G: Jonathan Quick
Top 3 Under-23s:
1. D Drew Doughty (22)
2. D Slava Voynov (22)
3. F Kyle Clifford (21)
Top 5 Prospects
1. F Tyler Toffoli (20)
2. D Derek Forbort (20)
3. F Nick Shore (19)
4. D Jake Muzzin (23)
5. D Nicolas Deslauriers (21)
Prospect Pool Rating:
Bluechip Talent: D
The Kings possess a group of forwards that perfectly blend grit and toughness with high-end skill. Kopitar has grown into one of the premier players at his position and he is followed by one of the toughest group of centers in the league with Richards, Jarret Stoll and Colin Fraser lining up behind him. Jonathan Quick is developing into a franchise tender and Drew Doughty is one of the top defensemen in the world, meaning the Kings have one of the best players at each respective position.
Behind Doughty, the defense is a little thin (albeit serviceable). They lack another major puckmoving blueliner on the backend after the trade of Jack Johnson (although Slava Voynov looks to be growing into the role). Willie Mitchell and Rob Scuderi are not getting any younger.
The goaltending pipeline remains as deep as ever with Chris Gibson leading the charge. The Kings also have some depth up front with Tyler Toffoli leading a skilled group of somewhat diminutive scorers in Brandon Kozun, Jordan Weal and Linden Vey. The defense position has some decent prospects as well, and they've got a couple of players with potential at the NCAA level in Nick Shore and Derek Forbort.
Most of the high quality prospects in the Kings' system have already graduated to the big club, and even some of the lesser prospects as well. Andrei Loktionov, Slava Voynov, Dwight King and Jordan Nolan look to be in for the long haul and the Kings have not yet been able to replace the players in the system. Due to trades and postseason runs the Kings lack bluechip prospects in the system.
The reigning Stanley Cup Champions crushed just about everybody on their way to the franchise's first Stanley Cup. The Kings relied on a core of four homegrown talents in Kopitar, Doughty, captain Dustin Brown, and all-world goalie Jonathan Quick, supplemented by some key acquisitions through trade and free agency in Jeff Carter, Mike Richards, Willie Mitchell, Justin Williams and Dustin Penner to bring the Cup to LA.
While the franchise's prospect cupboards are thin, they have a group of young players at the NHL level which minimizes the need for young players in their development system. Dean Lombardi has shown an ability to find key complementary pieces for his team's pillars in Kopitar, Doughty and Quick. Given the fact that the Kings have locked up all of their players for at least the upcoming season, though, it doesn't seem like he'll need to make many moves to retain his team's status as a top team in the NHL.
The Kings look like they've been built to win for the next few years and possibly the future as well. The Kings should remain among the top 8 in the West and will get a chance to show this season whether that dominating postseason run was an aberration or a sign of things to come.