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Season Preview 2019-20: Los Angeles Kings

The decline has been steep for the Kings, though the hope is the core still has enough left in the tank to help guide Los Angeles back to the post-season before passing the torch.

Is Drew Doughty in for a world of hurt?
The 2015-16 Norris Trophy winner signed an eight-year extension in 2018, but the contract doesn’t kick in until this season. At 29, Doughty is still among the NHL’s elite two-way defenders, and he’ll be well paid with an $11-million AAV until he’s 36 and near the end of his playing days. But the Kings are on the cusp of a rebuild with seven of their top players 32 or older and on the slowing-down side of their careers. Doughty is known for his puck patience in high-pressure situations, and he’ll need that to withstand the struggles that are bound to happen in the coming seasons.

Can Anze Kopitar ride that rollercoaster back up?
Kopitar has shown huge point fluctuations the past six seasons, and that’s evident in his goal totals starting in 2013-14: 29, 16, 25, 12, 35, 22. That suggests he’s due for a big rebound. He had just 60 points in 81 games in 2018-19, a huge drop from the 92 points he had the previous season. As Kopitar goes, so goes the team. He’s a tremendous player on both sides of the puck, but unless he’s producing at a high rate, the L.A. offense struggles. He’s 32, so there’s no certainly a bounce-back season is coming. But with five years remaining on his contract and the sense the Kings can maintain their competitiveness in the short term, he’s a good bet to post a gain.

Is there another elite season left in Jonathan Quick?
Injuries limited the two-time Vezina Trophy finalist to 46 games last season, and it’s doubtful he was completely healthy in most of those games. He came out of 2018-19 with just 16 wins and a horrible 3.38 goals-against average and .888 save percentage. It’s unfortunate, but one bad season in 11 for Quick reduced his career SP from .917 a year ago to .914 right now. Making matter worse is the fact you can’t blame Quick’s drop off a cliff solely on the sagging fortunes of the team. Backup Jack Campbell had a 2.30 GAA and .928 SP, while third-stringer Cal Petersen was at 2.61 and .924. The Kings need Quick to be healthy to have a shot at the playoff race. But he turns 34 partway through the season and probably shouldn’t be more than a twice-a-week, 50-game stopper in order to extend his staying power.

Stanley Cup Odds: 80/1

Rookie Watch
If Nikolai Prokhorkinwas born two days earlier, he wouldn’t be eligible for the Calder Trophy. But because the six-year KHL vet doesn’t turn 26 until Sept. 17, he’d be the oldest winner since Sergei Makarov won and forced a change to the guidelines in 1990. Our Pool Guide projects for 41 points for him.

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