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Draft Preview: Los Angeles Kings – That 30s lineup

We saw them in their 20s raise the Cup. It’s been a dramatic fall to the bottom for the Kings.

Just five years ago, ‘That 70s Line’ of Jeff Carter, Tyler Toffoli and Tanner Pearson stole the imagination of hockey fans in L.A. and helped the Kings to their second Stanley Cup in three years. Today, it’s more like ‘That 30s Lineup’ that’s dominating the airwaves. And in a league that’s getting younger and quicker, ‘That 30s Lineup’ has to adjust. But with eight players aged 30 or older on big-ticket deals, that won’t change right away.

IMMEDIATE NEEDS: The Kings had the biggest gap between goals for and goals against in the league – about three-quarters of a goal per game. They simply need to score more, especially considering 33-year-old goalie Jonathan Quick had the worst season of his career. The vets still log the heaviest minutes. It’s time to give the younger players an opportunity to see if they can produce.

LONG-TERM NEEDS: L.A.’s top four prospects are forwards, and they all rank among the top 75 league-wide according to our Future Watch 2019 rankings. That’s good. But more help down the line is needed on defense. Within a couple years, it’s likely Drew Doughty will be the only true top-four D-man in the lineup. The Kings would be wise to focus on blueliners with their top picks in the next draft or two.

CAP SITUATION: Horrendous contracts for Dion Phaneuf and Ilya Kovalchuk have another two years remaining, so it doesn’t make sense for the Kings to buy their way out of trouble. And there are other vets being paid for past performances as well. L.A. won’t be big spenders this summer.

IN THE SYSTEM 2019-20: Center Rasmus Kupari, 19, spent the past two seasons in Finland’s top league and has the speed and playmaking skills to make an immediate impact. Center Jaret Anderson-Dolan made the Kings out of camp this season before being returned to junior. He’s close.

DID YOU KNOW: Defense prospect Mikey Anderson (No. 89 in Future Watch) won the NCAA title with Minnesota-Duluth last year. Making it extra special was having older brother Joey, now with New Jersey, as a teammate.

LATE-ROUND GEMS:
(2000-2018 drafts)
Jonathan Quick, 72nd, ’05
Lubomir Visnovsky, 118th, ’00
Alec Martinez, 95th, ’07
Cristobal Huet, 214th, ’01
Colin Miller, 151st, ’12
Dwight King, 109th, ’07
Jordan Nolan, 186th, ’09
Nicolas Deslauriers, 84th, ’09
Nic Dowd, 198th, ’09
Jordan Weal, 70th, ’10

PICKS AFTER SECOND ROUND: 115
100+ NHL GAMES: 16
PERCENT SUCCESS: 13.9%
NHL RANK: 10th

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