Sports. Honestly. Since 2011

Puck Drop Preview: 2015-16 Los Angeles Kings

Welcome to Puck Drop Preview 2015-16, where our hockey department gives you a detailed look at each team from around the NHL leading to the start of this hockey season and offers our insight and analysis. Makes sure to stick around until the end of the series, where we’ll offer our full predictions for the standings in each division, and eventually our collective LWOS 2015-16 Stanley Cup pick. You can check out all our articles on our Puck Drop Page. Today we continue the series with the Los Angeles Kings.

Puck Drop Preview: 2015-16 Los Angeles Kings


Coming into last season as the defending champions, the Los Angeles Kings were expected to be a favorite to win the Stanley Cup again. Having brought back almost their entire lineup from the previous year, nobody expected anything less than a playoff appearance from the playoff tested veterans. However, nothing went according to plan, as off-ice issues with Slava Voynov, and uninspired on-ice play from Mike Richards and Jonathan Quick led to the Kings missing the playoffs for the first time in six years.

General manager Dean Lombardi struggled all season with a salary cap pushed to the max. When Voynov got suspended indefinitely the NHL allowed his contract to not count against the Kings cap, and gave Lombardi a chance at the trade deadline to right the Kings ship by acquiring Andrej Sekera from the Carolina Hurricanes. A move that seemed to pay dividends right away, but unfortunately was for naught as Sekera went down with a season ending injury after just 17 games. That trade cost the Kings a first round pick in 2016 and one of their best defensive prospects in Roland McKeown. With Sekera eventually leaving for Edmonton this offseason, it appears that was one of the worst trades in recent history for the Kings.

Drew Doughty was the biggest star for the Kings all season. Due to the Voynov situation and injuries on the blueline, Doughty played a personal record 28:59 minutes a night for the team; which was also second highest in the league. Doughty was awarded for his stellar play by being named a finalist for the Norris Trophy, and finishing runner-up in voting behind Erik Karlsson.

The Kings finished one spot out of the playoffs last season. Of the many things that went wrong for the team, it’s easy to point out that star center Anze Kopitar had his worst offensive season since his rookie year, and goaltender Jonathan Quick had a three month stretch of the season where his SV% hovered around .900. That’s not a good combination and something the Kings will be looking to fix this coming year.


This offseason has been a mess for the Kings. Voynov’s domestic violence case was pled down from a felony to a misdemeanor, allowing him to spend just 90 days in jail. Thanks to good behavior he was released after 45 days, however he was then taken into custody by U.S. immigration where he faces possible deportation. Lost in all of his legal troubles is the fact that Voynov ruptured his achilles heel while doing non hockey related activities, leading to the team suspending him without pay for now. We won’t know much more about this situation for a few more weeks, but even if Voynov isn’t deported, it’s not likely he’ll be in game shape until at least December.

Mike Richards had a horrible year last season, so Dean Lombardi attempted to trade him to anyone for pretty much anything. However, due to Richards’ big contract, there were no takers. Lombardi instead decided to buy out Richards’ contract. Buying out Richards’ contract would have meant the Kings would still have over $3M against their salary cap. However, Richards situation got interesting when he was detained at the Canadian border while carrying prescription drugs. Due to this detainment, the Kings decided Richards’ contract could be terminated due to his conduct being detrimental to the team. This is an unprecedented move in the current era on the league’s CBA, and one the NHLPA wasn’t happy about. Currently the player’s association is fighting for Richards to guarantee he gets the money he would have got if his contract was bought out instead of terminated. As for now, Richards is no longer a Kings player.

Believe it or not, there was actual hockey activity for the Kings during the offseason. After losing Jarret Stoll (who was also arrested) to the New York Rangers, and Justin Williams to the Capitals, the Kings needed to fill a couple holes, the biggest of which was on left wing.

Prior to the NHL draft the Kings traded their 2015 first round pick, backup goaltender Martin Jones, and prospect Colin Miller to the Boston Bruins for left wing Milan Lucic. Lucic is bigger and younger than the departed Williams and should provide more physicality. However, this is another move that’s troubling for Kings fan in the long run as Lucic’s contract expires after this season and with the need to re-sign Kopitar this year, it’s unlikely Lucic will be with the team more than one season.

The Kings also brought in defenseman Christian Ehrhoff to help shore up their blueline while Voynov’s situation is still up in the air. Ehrhoff was brought in for one season at only $1.5M, which the Kings are hoping is a steal for a guy who has put up 40 points before. Replacing Martin Jones in net will be former Buffalo Sabres goaltender Jhonas Enroth.



Milan Lucic – Anze Kopitar – Marian Gaborik

Tanner Pearson – Jeff Carter – Tyler Toffoli

Dwight King – Nick Shore – Dustin Brown

Kyle Clifford – Trevor Lewis – Jordan Nolan

Andy Andreoff – Jordan Weal


Drew Doughty – Jake Muzzin

Christian Ehrhoff – Alec Martinez

Brayden McNabb – Matt Greene

Derek Forbort


Jonathan Quick

Jhonas Enroth


Milan Lucic

Lucic had a down year in Boston, but the Bruins also missed the playoffs after a disappointing season. It’ll be interesting to see what Lucic can do with Kopitar and Gaborik, as he’s never played with such talented linemates before. The Kings are hoping for 30+ goals from Lucic and with Kopitar passing him the puck it’s not hard to imagine he can do it.

Jonathan Quick

Quick really needs to bounce back from last season and have a consistent year for the Kings to be contenders again. With the shakeups on defense in the last two years it’s not hard to see why his numbers might have slipped a little, but he needs to improve his save percentage from .918 and perhaps reign in his emotions a bit. Quick led all NHL goaltenders in PIM’s last season with 18.


Tyler Toffoli

The Kings second line is affectionately nicknamed “That 70’s Line” as Toffoli, Carter and Pearson all wear numbers in the 70’s. Last season that line was on fire to start the year, but Pearson ended up breaking his ankle and Toffoli and Carter’s numbers dropped off. If the three of them can stay together all season, it’s not unreasonable to assume Toffoli could get close to 40 goals. Toffoli is a player that has scored a lot of goals at every level he’s ever played and Kings fans are waiting for his breakout season.


Dustin Brown

Brown is now playing on the third line for the Kings and unless he has a resurgence it’s unlikely he’ll see much time on the top two lines. Brown hasn’t broken 20 goals in three season and only scored 11 last year. Brown is a player that still looks like he’s working hard on the ice, but he’s got nothing to show for it the last couple of seasons. Perhaps being on a shutdown line will better suit him.


The Kings have probably the second most talented team in the Pacific division right now. It’s going to be hard for them to beat the Anaheim Ducks to win the division, but it’s fair to expect the Kings to be back in the playoff this season. The team’s first line is better than last year, and if That 70’s Line continues to get better together, the top six will be a tough matchup for any team in the league.

The defense is maybe the weakest it’s been in five years. Doughty is still the best all-around defenseman in the league, but the team’s third line pairing of Greene and McNabb is pretty weak. Ehrhoff is an unknown quantity with the team right now, but if he gels with Martinez on the second line the Kings will at least have a decent top four.

Quick is a question mark at this point in his career. We all know he’s a good playoff goalie, but we have no idea how he’ll do in the regular season. It’s never a good thing to be questioning your goaltender.

The Kings should make the playoffs and from there you never know how far they can go. Getting there is the biggest concern, but right now things are looking up for the team this season.

Main Photo:


More Posts

Send Us A Message