Goals Per Game & Are The L.A. Kings Talented Enough?

One of our readers, 3TeamFan, had an interesting comment that merits discussion in its own article. He posed the question, would a new coach make that much of a difference with this lineup? He wrote:

When I look at the Kings, here’s what I think are reasonable projections for goals from these players in an average season regardless of who is coach.

1st line:
Dustin Penner: 19
Anze Kopitar: 30
Dustin Brown: 22

2nd line:

Simon Gagne: 21
Mike Richards: 26
Justin Williams: 23

3rd line:

Kyle Clifford: 6
Jarret Stoll (getting 3rd line ice time with poor wingers): 12
Brad Richardson: 9

4th line:

Andrei Loktionov (on 4th line): 4
Colin Fraser: 3
Ethan Moreau: 3


Drew Doughty: 11
Jack Johnson: 9
Willie Mitchell: 4
Rob Scuderi: 1
Matt Greene: 2
Slava Voynov: 6

That’s 211 goals. That’s what I believe is the mean for this team. It could go as high as 220-225 if Penner, Brown, Gagne, Williams, Stoll, etc score a little more than I projected, but the paces I projected for most of them are a lot higher than they’re on right now, so it could easily be 10-15 less than I projected too.

211 goals would have ranked 25th in the NHL last year, 1 goal more than Columbus, 2 more than the Kings were last year and just behind Montreal, Nashville, and Toronto.

So regardless of the coach, how is this going to get to 236 goals? If that’s even enough.

The premise is, are we overestimating the L.A. Kings’ offensive abilities?

My response:

The issue (which we will explore in more detail) isn’t just scoring, per player, over the course of the season but 5 on 5 scoring. The Kings are the NHL’s second worst team 5 on 5. L.A. averages 1.39 5 on 5 goals per game. The Islanders are at 1.33 5-on-5 goals per game. To put things in frightening perspective, the Ducks and Blue Jackets have better 5 on 5 scoring. That is why looking at statistics in an isolated setting can be dangerous. Where we fail, and have consistently failed, is our inability to enter the zone with speed, set up the play and generate offense. Any game we play against better teams demonstrates our ineptitude in this regard.

To address our reader’s premise, I first look at this season. Right now, the leading team in goals scored is the Philadelphia Flyers. As a side note, the fact Dean Lombardi wants to model this franchise after Philly but that our system of offense doesn’t resemble them in any way is an irony that should not be lost on you. Moving on, they are at 3.48 goals per game average. They have scored 80 goals, which is incredible. The L.A. Kings, by comparison, have 53. What gets us in the top 10? 64. I look at this lineup and ask myself, there aren’t 11 more goals in here?

Justin Williams 3 goals. Should be 7

Dustin Brown 4 goals. Should be 7

Jarret Stoll 2 goals. Should be 5

Drew Doughty 2 goals. Should be 4 (taking injuries into account)

Kyle Clifford 1 goal. Should be 3.

Dustin Penner. 0 goals. Should be 4 (taking injuries into account)

Consider nobody else and you have 18 more goals right then and there. Suddenly, we are at 71 goals, which puts us tied for 5th.

Over the course of the season, being in the top 10 is what I would expect (assuming a competent offensive system) with the additions of Richards and Gagne, each of whom increase the offensive skill set of our top 6. I am being conservative but expect the best players to be exactly that because they are each skilled enough and have the intangibles and work ethic to be. If you came into this season believing Kopitar, Richards, Williams, Gagne, Brown, Stoll, Clifford, Doughty, Johnson, and Martinez would all take offensive steps backward or, at best, some of them would tread statistic water, then you should expect that from every team in the NHL when projecting stats.

My expectations:

25 L DUSTIN PENNER 15 (only player I expected less from)
21 L SCOTT PARSE 4 (never expected him to remain healthy)
19 R KEVIN WESTGARTH 0 (expectations already exceeded)
? L ZACH PARISE 30 (oops, how did that get in there!?)
48 C ANDREI LOKTIONOV (See Penner since Lokti is likely a fill in)

240 goals, not counting Parise.

Is that unrealistic? Based on the players’ histories, and natural forward progress, I say it is damn realistic.

That is, last season and likely this one, top 10 numbers. I will tell you this – if Dean Lombardi had a dramatically different set of expectations going into the season, then all of that talk about taking it to the next level was a fabrication and I don’t believe for one second he believed at the start of this season (or now) that this L.A. Kings team, with the players assembled, wasn’t ready for that step, nor do I believe he looks at our current offensive numbers and is not left scratching his head unless of course he is being honest with himself about the common denominator.

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16 replies

  1. It’s definitely possible, just not under this system. The business world shares a lot of similarities to the hockey world. The best defense is a strong offense. What sets apart a lot of companies is their strategy and implementation of that strategy. Each employee of a well run organization knows what his job is and performs, learning and improving along the way. If a crisis hits, they have the PR team in place to save their ass, always training for the unexpected.

    This Kings team reminds me of the restaurant industry, more specifically the movie Waiting. No finely tuned machine, no leadership from the top down, just a mess on the ice a lot of the time. They have the skills, just not the leadership nor the vision.

    Like any good company, if you keep firing and replacing the common employees, all you’ll get is new faces with the same problems. Fire the managers, the decision makers, and you may help solve many of your problems.

    Dean, you have work to do. I’d look into it… you never know when your number is called.

    And it won’t be to suit up on the ice.

    • Bobby I agree with you (esp on the goal production) and this poster. The restaurant analogy and replacing common elements is a good one. And his point is well taken. With the right leader at the helm, someone with iniiative ,creativity and a good working hockey mind, someone who isn’t afraid to challenge an underperforming player or recognize the ones that are , someone who knows what time management is and how to use it.
      If DL makes the right coaching moves, then a new leader will instill that in this team and goal shouldcome. (Although MR still needs a skilled LW or put Penner on the toip line and gagne where he belongs with MR)
      But he needs to do that soon, going beyond 30 games and that doesn’t leave much to adjust and implement a new systems and get comfortable with it.

      The question is, does Dean Lombardi recognize that this team is failing badly and needs a new leader? Look what Dineen has done for Florida and how they are thriving under his lead. It can happen.
      IS DL already working on this? Did he see this over the last several weeks and has contacted people?

  2. If your system isn’t capable, doesn’t matter who voice got on the team. When u watch the elite teams, they have a systematic way up the ice, entry to the zone, and non hesitant shot mentality WITH either traffic in front or AT LEAST 2 guys ready to clean up with s third in soon after…..time and time again. Kings have outside shots, cycling and bad passing. This system has been going on for 2 years. We need a new mechanic! Get a NEW COACH!

  3. Per Rich hammond on LA INisder just now…

    Sunday practice; new lines

    Posted by Rich Hammond on 27 November 2011, 11:40 am

    Well, The Great Lineup Shakeup of 2011 has taken place, with Andrei Loktionov moving to center, Jarret Stoll to wing and only the fourth line remaining intact. Here’s how the forwards and defensemen are lined up early in practice…


    I don’t get Hunter on the 1st line, but LOVE the idea of maybe seeing MR and SG together again FINALLY!!!!!

    And Brown might play better with Kopi, he and Richie had little chemsitry.

    My late thanksgiving gift has arrived!!!

    • Wow. Well, obviously Terry Murray’s scapegoat is Justin Williams. He hasn’t been playing great, but neither has 95% of the team. TM is out of touch with reality it seems.

      • Justin Williams under-performing, move to 3rd line. Hunter misses wide open net, move to 1st line. Sound TM logic if I’ve ever seen it.

    • Okay, so maybe Hunter on the 1st is just temporary until Penner is better, then he goe there. And /or DL told TM to get it done or he’s gone.
      Loki with Williams on the 3rd gives a speed and skill set and SToll is good defensivly and Gagne are Richie are excellent. They used to shut down the top iines in Philly, Richie would steal the puck, the’d break out, enter the O Z and score. So fast, so talented, they ‘get /’ each other.

  4. Jack Johnson – “[Chicago’s] still a great team, they still have their top players there and they’re some of the top players in the league. Kane, Toews, Hossa, Sharp – those are great players. They’re going to be a tough team to play, for sure. [b]I feel like every time we talk about the next team, we’re going to say ‘they’re a tough team.’ But, that’s just the way it is now. That’s the way the NHL wants it. The margin for error is so small, a bounce here or there can determine a hockey game.[/b]”

    Which is exactly why only scoring one or two goals will never be enough. It’s funny how players seem to keep vaguely hinting at this. Or they’ve all jumped on the TM “we just need some lucky bounces” bandwagon. I’m not sure.

    • I really think you bottom lined it fairly well. Parody. Botch one faceoff in Dallas and… Botch one faceoff against Chicago and…

      The line adjustments seem a little extreme. Hunter on the 1st line. Really? Why? And I here I thought James Dean did a good “misunderstood” act.

      Loktionov to center, check. Brown back to the left? Whattt?
      Moreau and Westgarth on the same line? What, who will be backchecking?

  5. Hey guys,

    I will comment more later but here’s a short one.

    Kopitar at 30 I agree with.

    Richards at 30… he’s coming off a 23 goal season playing in Philadelphia, the team you used as an example for contrasting styles. They play a more offensive system like you want the Kings to play, and even in that system Richards only got 23. There are always more variables so that’s not necessarily a fair way of looking at it. All I know is last season he didn’t look like a 30 goal talent because he looked slow and out of shape. He’s starting to look better now in LA but he’s still not as fast as he was in 2008. He could get 30, but I think his mean at this point is closer to 25. His career high, in Philadelphia, when he was at his best, before the shoulder injuries, was 31. That’s his ceiling. I don’t think you can pencil that in as his average. That’s the total he gets when he’s in great shape, and finds himself in the right place at the right time a lot and gets stretches like now where it’s 5 goals in 7 games or something like that. It’s easy to say he’s a 30 goal scorer or 35 even when he’s riding a stretch like that, but just a couple weeks ago he was having trouble finding the net at all.

    Williams at 25… it’s hard to judge Williams because he was injured so much, but he didn’t post a 25 goal pace until last year since 2007 I believe. He posted a 16.7 goal pace in 2009-2010 in 49 games, around a 25 goal pace last year, and now a 10.6 goal pace this season. Once again, 25 last year, that was his big breakout year, best year since 2007. That was his best, not his mean. If you look at his average goals per game the last three seasons and project that for an 82 game season, I believe he’s scored at a 19 goal pace. He’s a good, smart two-way player but he’s not a marquee player. People had written him off. It’s great that he surprised everyone with his smarts and all around talent and showed he could still play as a good complimentary top 6 player, but that’s what he is. Probably just a 20 goal scorer. I mean Joe Pavelski had 20 goals last year. Clowe had 24. Havlat had 22. None of them had 25. Is Justin Williams really a better goal scorer than them? I think you might be underestimating what a 25 goal scorer is in today’s NHL. Claude Giroux, Anze Kopitar, Marian Hossa, Vincent Lecavalier, Henrik Zetterberg, Mike Richards, Pavel Datsyuk, Milan Hejduk, Jamie Benn, and many others all had 25 goals or less last season. Most of these players are better than Justin Williams. Of course, there are also some who aren’t who scored more than 25. Like I said before there are often many factors and this isn’t always as fool-proof a way of looking at things as it seems (which you astutely identified in your post). However, looking at everything together… 25 was his best goal total in years, his average over the last three years is 19, the most important year–this year, he is on a 10.6 goal pace… from all of that, I think you can deduce that he’s just not a 25 goal talent year in year out.

    Gagne at 25… 1, he hasn’t even played enough games the last couple years to get to 25 despite his pace, and 2. even his pace last season was for 22, not 25. This year so far it’s for 27 though, but he hasn’t looked like a 27 goal scorer to me. Once again, he could easily get 25, but he could just as easily not. He’s not the same Gagne as he was a few years ago.

    Brown used to be a 25 goal scorer, but I’m not seeing that now. He doesn’t look like he has the extra step he used to, or the energy. Is it possible all that hitting wore his body down? Maybe he’s just doing other things in his life and not focusing as much on being in peak physical condition? Whatever it is, the Brown I’m seeing right now looks more like someone who would be lucky to hit 20 year in year out.

    Stoll at 15… his linemates are a huge problem for his production right now, and also is he getting as much powerplay time? More on that later.

    Jack Johnson at 10.. his career high is 8, in a full season last year he had only 5. 10 would be a great season for him, not a mean.

    Doughty likewise has never gotten 17 before. His career high was 16 two seasons ago. He was better and faster back then, and it was also easier to score in the league for everyone, easier to make rushes up the ice and find space in the neutral zone to rush through. 17 would have put him as the 3rd best defense goal scorer in the NHL last season, more than Weber and Chara. I don’t think that’s his mean, at least not until he gets his step back.

    Back to the forwards and just as a team as a whole, let’s also remember that a lot of these guys are dependent on top powerplay time for their production. So while some of them may be able to hit their ceilings, it’s very difficult for all of them to. If Richards, Gagne, and Williams get to their ceilings, it’s likely Brown, Stoll, and Penner’s numbers suffer, you know what I mean? I’m not going to look at the PP TOI right now, but is it possible we’re used to players like Stoll and Brown scoring 20 goals because they used to be on the top powerplay unit, but now with the additions of Richards and Gagne they aren’t?

    I think your blog overall has a point though, which is that looking at goal totals like I’ve done for the players is kind of pointless. The problem is that with 20 players on the roster, even if you’re only off by 2 goals on each player in your projections, that’s a 40 goal difference and it changes everything. Should we really be debating whether Justin Williams is a 25 or 22 goal scorer? We all know what Justin Williams is, we probably even see him the same way, we’re just projecting a few goals difference.

    So admittedly this a difficult way to judge things.

    I think a better way to look at it is the point I made about elite goal scorers. Who is the elite sniper on this team? I think we can all agree the team doesn’t have one. They score by committee, but that usually means you’re not an elite offensive team. This team had no 30 goal scorers last season, and Mike Richards who they added did not score 30 goals last season either. Even in your projections Scribe, you did not project any King to have 40 goals, or even 35. And correct me if I’m wrong, but even playing Philadelphia’s style, I don’t believe you would project anyone to have 40 goals on the Kings.

    If you all take anything away from my comment, I think that’s what I would have everyone take away. It’s hard to be an elite offensive team without any elite goal scorers. Of course, it’s a terrible time to make that argument because the Bruins just won the Stanley Cup. They did have Horton and Lucic who are both much more goal scorers than the Kings have, but still, no 40 goal scorers, no real #1 all-star forward.

    But the Bruins don’t contradict the argument, you just have to note the differences. There is a big difference between the Kings and Bruins.

    Let’s say for arguments sake that Lucic and Horton and Seguin and whoever else really are just 20-25 goal scorers, not 30. And let’s say rght now the Kings have a top 6 full of 20-25 goal guys, let’s say 6 of them, which has not been enough to have an elite offense so far. So how did the Bruins manage it with a similar top-six? They had those six, and then they had another three on their 3rd line. They may be in a similar boat to the Kings in terms of their top 6 (although theirs was better there too I believe), but they also had a 3rd line that was basically a second 2nd line.


    Kings good offensive forwards are as follows: 1. Kopitar 2. Richards 3. Williams. 4. Gagne. 5. Brown. 6. Penner. 6.5. Stoll.

    That’s 6.5 scorers.

    The Bruins on their Cup run had:

    1. Krejci. 2. Lucic. 3. Horton. 4. Bergeron. 5. Marchand. 6. Ryder. 7. Seguin. 8. Peverley (who actually played top 6 in Atlanta), 9. Savard on injured reserve.

    And then after that, while not scorers, Chris Kelly, Gregory Campbell, players like that were some of the better fourth line guys who could chip in here and there on offense.

    If you’re looking for you get those extra 20 goals even if you don’t have an elite goal scorer in your top 6, it’s with guys like Marchand, Ryder, and Peverley on your 3rd line. You can easily get 55-66 goals from those three, whereas Clifford, Stoll, and Moreau will have to work extremely hard just to get 30 this season between the three of them.

    That’s a colossal difference.

    But most teams don’t have that depth. The Bruins have been better managed than the Kings. They drafted Marchand so he was on an entry level deal that barely counted against the cap. Peverley was a great addition on a very cap friendly deal if I’m not mistaken. Normally if you want a 50-60 goal 3rd line (or more), well #1 almost no one has that, and #2 it would cost the Kings 8-9M in cap room (or more, just look at David Booth) just to get a couple borderline 20 goal scorers to put on the 3rd line. So the Boston method is great, but there’s a reason almost no one else had/has what they had last year, you have to draft it or acquire it cheap. Marchand came seemingly out of nowhere for the Bruins last year (at least out of nowhere for me), and he’s a great talent, extremely important to their team. I’m not talking about the spunk he plays with either, I mean as a two-way forward who scores. The Kings need another top-six guy like that, but no one is coming out of nowhere for them. Chiarelli drafted and developed Marchand and Lombardi doesn’t seem to have someone like that. And there you go, that’s all it takes. One player here in drafting Marchand, one player there in trading for Peverley, their GM makes those good moves and Dean doesn’t, and that’s all it takes, they excel and you fail.

    To sum it up more concisely…If you’re third and fourth lines aren’t going to be good at scoring, you need more than a group of 20-25 goal scorers in your top 6. You need elite snipers. Likewise, if you don’t have elite snipers in your top 6, just 20-25 goal scorers, you need a 3rd and 4th line that score.

    The Kings have no elite snipers, nobody on their roster now scored 30 last year like I said, and Kyle Clifford and Ethan Moreau (or Loktionov, or likely even Brad Richardson much as I like him he’s struggled to produce) are not offensively gifted players even by 3rd line standards.

    So that’s what I think, all the stats aside. A new coach may help a bit, but for me if the Kings want to become a good offensive team, you have to remedy one of those two roster problems. Either get better elite talent, or better depth. Right now neither is good enough for the Kings to be an elite team. Either add Jeff Carter + to the top 6, or add a Brad Marchand and Tyler Seguin (or even a Ryder or Peverley) to play on the third line with Stoll.

    Bottom line: if you think you’re going to be a good offensive team with just two lines scoring, and of those two lines not one player giving you 35 goals, it’s just not going to happen. If you’re only going to have six contributing to the offense then those six have to be elite, not just good. And right now most of the Kings top 6 is just good, and those who are elite like Kopitar and Mike Richards are elite more on a basis of two-way play and playmaking than goal scoring.

    I’m about 99.99% problem that’s the problem. The top six is above average overall, but they’re not good enough to make the Kings a good offensive team overall without the help of elite 3rd and 4th lines, which the Kings dont have, and probably wont have because they, like everything else, are hard to get when you don’t draft them yourself. And Lombardi, for all the compliments you can give him, has failed pretty badly in a couple very important areas. He’s drafted no elite goal scorers, and he’s drafted no good, affordable scoring depth. And wouldn’t you know, those are the teams’ weaknesses right now.

    I really like Voynov, though. He wasn’t as fast as I thought he would be watching him in preseason, which calmed the hype a bit for me, but now he’s not only looking stronger, but I’m seeing that the other aspects of his game are what I should have been excited for even more than his skating. I’m not saying he’s amazing on defense, but his shot and hockey sense on offense could be tops of all the Kings dmen. I think sooner than later after a little more development he could give you 10 goals from the 3rd pairing even with just 2nd powerplay time.

    Anyway, that’s what I think. Thanks for posting my comment here in the article Scribe, it’s an honor!

    • Dude, that is one looong post. That said, I think you have a very good handle on things.
      I’m going to paste in here what for me is a key paragraph of your post:
      A new coach may help a bit, but for me if the Kings want to become a good offensive team, you have to remedy one of those two roster problems. Either get better elite talent, or better depth. Right now neither is good enough for the Kings to be an elite team.

      Yep. I really agree with you on that. Also, I wish to broach something here that I wouldn’t do on LAKI because of the different nature of the blog.
      What you said about how Chiarelli put the Bruins together; couldn’t agree more.

      Here is something that I find to be key. I (and others) have pointed out things such as the Hickey draft pick. The response has been largely that every team makes mistakes, overlooks key players (Giroux, Couture, etc, etc.). Yes, that’s clear. I get that.

      However, what has dawned on me now that DL is in the fifth year with the team (and don’t get me wrong….. I like DL), but the sum total of what he’s gotten out of a total of four first round picks is essentially not very much at all.

      Hickey – hopefully that develops out, but at the moment given the Kings depth on d it doesn’t look promising. I hope I’m wrong, but time is passing and you’re not gonna get much in trade value as he hasn’t proven anything of significance.

      Colten Teubert + future 1st to Edm for Penner. Of course no one could have imagined that Penner would be such a disappointment. So at least up to this point thats three first round picks w/o much of anything (other than frustration) to show for them.

      Last one is Trevor Lewis. He’s a very serviceable fourth line player w good speed.

      But that makes four first round picks. In an average nhl it’s ok (I guess). If you’re in the west (which the Kings happen to be) and you have to compete vs. Detroit, Vancouver and SJ you simply don’t have the room for that sort of error. Yes he’s made good trades for JW and JJ, but that doesn’t get you your elite players. Better drafting (as you point out w Boston) gets you going. They had Kessel and turned him over to get Sequin. Brad Marchand is a gritty player with clearly a great skill set. See the goals he scored in the playoffs. DL likes grit too so he drafts Kyle Clifford. For sure a nice player, but I sure don’t see the same feel w his hands around the net and creativity. Marchand this year has 8 goals in a quarter of the season. Even if he dips and ‘only’ ends up with 20? I’m not sure if Clifford has that sort of an upside.

      So if you keep going for ‘character’ players without some inclination that the game is more than just character….. it’s also skill, deft hands and speed, I’m not sure what the upside really is there.

      Anyway, I’m not convinced that it all boils down to simply TM. I also don’t particularly instinctively care for the ‘blend’ of TM and DL. Taken separately perhaps. But together I’m less convinced. That’s just me though.

      • Oh, and Brad Marchand was a third round pick. They’re getting first round results out of him. There is my point wrt Lewis and even Cliffy (the way he’s playing this year). They are first and second round picks and they’re not getting that type of result from them.

        I know that Toffoli and perhaps Weal are in the pipeline….. but hey, thats most likely in two years. And who knows how that will all play out? Well we hope.

  6. Also one quick note on the Flyers, they are just way more offensively talented than the Kings. You can admire their system but they are a completely different team than the Kings. Their whole defense is built for skating and offense, really their whole team. Where the Kings have Dustin Brown’s they have Danny Briere’s. Where the Kings have a big, strong, great two-way playmaking top center in Kopitar, they have a small, slick, much more offensively talented and assertive Claude Giroux. Giroux is a better passer and goal scorer than Kopitar. He’s not as strong along the wall or as good defensively, but he makes a lot more happen.

    But basically, Pronger, Timonen, Coburn, Carle, Meszaros, there’s your top 5 defense, all of them are offensive dmen. No Scuderi or Mitchell types in the top 6. It’s all offense and two-way types.

    Then at forward, Giroux, Jagr, JVR, Briere, Hartnell, Read is super slick and has been great for them, Voracek is very skilled, Simmonds… that’s 8 forwards deep right there. At 8 they have Simmonds, the Kings have Moreau. The Flyers are not as deep as they were last season at forward, but they are infinitely faster than the Kings, they’re just much more a finesse team, they get more offense from their defense, and guys like Giroux are 40 goal talents.

    Overall Scribe, I do think you are overestimating the Kings talent on offense. This isn’t a high-powered team offensively, it never was. They were bottom 5 in the league last year. How was that supposed to change? Mike Richards fixes everything? Okay, maybe, sure, if you don’t lose anything. But in getting Richards they lost a lot of their depth. Simmonds, Handzus, Smyth… that’s not inconsequential. I mean Smyth scored as many goals as Richards last season!

    So I do think you’re overvaluing. I mean it’s hard not to whenever you love a team, and especially given the hype going into this season I think everyone did. But looking at this roster, like I’ve been over, there’s no elite sniper, and it’s a two line team. That’s just not a recipe for a good offense. We have to remember that other teams have good players too. Just take the New York Rangers, shitty offensive team, right? Well they are structured a lot like the Kings. Top playmaking center Brad Richards, they even have that sniper the Kings don’t in Marian Gaborik, Ryan Callahan is awfully similar to Dustin Brown except I’d say he’s significantly better, Dubinsky compares favorably to Gagne or Penner, Anisimov is very, very talented, much more naturally talented than Jarret Stoll. Doesn’t mean he’s better but he’s talented. And overall the bottom 6 depth is much better than ours with Stepan, Fedotenko, Boyle, Prust, Wolski is a former 20 goal scorer. Perennial underachiever though he may be, he has talent. Erik Christensen is a very good passer.

    See what I mean? Richards, Gaborik, Callahan, and Dubinsky compares very favorably to Kopitar, Williams, Dustin Brown, and Simon Gagne. Mike Richards is much better than whoever you’d compare him to on the Rangers second line, but right now guys like Boyle or Stepan are better than Penner. You think the NYR are a terrible offensive team, but as you can see their top-six is a lot like the Kings. If theirs is poor, the Kings is too. Worse yet, their bottom-six is without a doubt better than the Kings. The Kings certainly have the advantage in their top-end offensive D, but not by as much as you think. Dan Girardi has more points than Drew Doughty playing the same defensive type system the Kings are playing. Marc Staal is a great two-way defenseman too.

    So I really think we are overvaluing the talent we have. Are there teams ahead of the Kings in goals who you could argue don’t have as much talent? Yes. But hockey is not an exact science, and even so sometimes there is an explanation. Take Florida, 11th in offense. For one, Jason Garisson and Brian Campbell have just been way better than Doughty and Johnson on offense. Garisson seems to hit the top corner every time. He’s come out of nowhere and he might have the best defenseman shot in the NHL. Not hardest, not harder than Chara or Weber, but the accuracy is uncanny. Where is that from Doughty? He doesn’t have it. Campbell always got flack for being overpaid, but if you forget about his contract, he is one of the best skating dmen in the league. Kulikov is extremely underrated as a #3 as well, had great corsi ratings I believe last year. There was an article somewhere this summer talking about how he and Weaver (I believe) were the best dpairing in the NHL last year according to advanced statistics. Regardless of that Kulikov is a great young dman. Then at forward, the Panthers have some very underrated players. Fleischmann is a great player, as is Weiss. Versteeg has always been highly skilled, he just didn’t make as much out of it (and maybe didn’t get the ice time). Then they have guys like Kopecky, Bergenheim, Matthias, Upshall, etc in third or fourth line roles. These are guys you could say have a top 6 skillset with maybe their hockey sense or some other weakness holding them back a little bit in their careers. Santorelli has impressed me in the past as being a very good third liner. They just have a lot more contributors than the Kings on offense. No offensive weak links like Moreau, Hunter, and others on the Kings. Anyone can chip in with a goal at any time. Their GM Dale Tallon spent like 50 billion on their 3rd and 4th lines alone, and it’s showing up. That’s what depth will do for you.

    Winnipeg is another team. Kyle Wellwood is a player I wanted the Kings to sign this offseason, he was absolutely fantastic for the Sharks last year (and the Canucks before that for large stretches). For some reason he’s always available, and the team that gets him out of necessity always benefits.

    But it’s not just him. Evander Kane and Andrew Ladd are both better goal scorers than anyone on the Kings besides Kopitar and Richards at their best. Bryan Little would be the fastest forward in the Kings top 6, highly skilled. Byfuglien is a better goal scorer from the defense than anyone on the Kings. Nik Antropov always underachieves but it’s a great asset to have a 6’4 russian with great power in his legs and great hands to put on your 3rd or 1st line or wherever you want him. Burmistrov is a great young player with great speed and skill. That’s their top 6 already right there, and you still have left over the highly talented Blake Wheeler, Eric Fehr is a very good 3rd liner, they’ve gotten great production out of Jim Slater who I’m not as familiar with.

    I don’t know what the latest mix of their lines are right now, but if you have say Blake Wheeler, Alexander Burmistrov, and Eric Fehr on your 3rd line, that’s an extremely high talent 3rd line. They may make the mistakes of young players and not play a very structured game, but they are very very talented. And you’ll notice a common theme here, even if a team like Winnipeg doesn’t have a top 6 that matches up in terms of big names to the Kings, they do have more speed. Everyone has more speed than the Kings.

    Toronto might be the best example, 3rd best in league scoring. They were always faster than the Kings, you could tell as much when they throttled the Kings last year. But they weren’t the better team because they didn’t play structured, and they weren’t good defensively. But offensively, they are more talented than the Kings. Or rather, much deeper (same thing).

    The Kings certainly have the advantage at center, but the Leafs are much better everywhere else in terms of offense. They are overflowing with talented offensive players. Phil Kessel is way, way better than any goal scorer the Kings have. Like, twice as good. Lupul, while not as good overall as Kopitar or Mike Richards, is if not as good a goal scorer, right up there. Dion Phaneuf is outperforming Drew Doughty right now. Tyler Bozak isn’t an elite player but he’s a good 2way center that can keep the puck and play well with better players. John-Michael Liles is another weapon they have on their defense. Tim Connolly was Buffalo’s #1 center and they have him now. Nikolai Kulemin is an excellent player with tons of skill. Clarke Macarthur is another excellent player with a good rounded skillset, will get you 20 goals or more easily (on pace for 41 right now). Grabovski is an excellent, excellent player. Gardiner is another skilled offensive defenseman. Matthew Lombardi was the Coyotes #1 center two seasons ago and was playing great hockey before he got injured. Very fast and good two-way player. David Steckel is an elite faceoff man. Cody Franson had as many goals as Jack Johnson last season, 29 points, and +10, and he isn’t even playing for the Leafs. Mike Brown is one of the best 4th liners in the league.

    In no particular order, 1. Kessel, 2. Bozak, 3. Connolly, 4. Kulemin, 5. Macarthur, 6. Lupul, 7. Grabovski, 8. Lombardi… that’s not even counting guys like Colborne, Steckel, Colby Armstrong is an excellent third line winger, much better than the Kings have. They’re 8 deep at forward there, they have Phaneuf, Liles, Gardiner, and Cody Franson all on D to add to the offense. And look at how much speed is there. Bozak, Connolly, Kulemin, and Macarthur are pretty fast themselves, but Kessel, Grabovski, Lombardi, Liles, and Gardiner, are all very good skaters.

    Anyway I’ve beat the point into the ground but I wanted to give a few examples. I think it just illustrates what I’ve already said. Even if the Kings have a better overall, two-way top 6 than some of these teams, the other teams have much better third lines, and much better speed throughout their rosters. And their #1 dman is badly outplaying and outscoring the Kings #1 dman. And a lot of these teams have better top-six’s, to boot.

  7. Drew–

    Couldn’t agree more. Could not agree more. Yes, every GM makes mistakes, but it’s the one that makes one less mistake, or two less mistakes, that ends up with one more star player, or two more star players, and that’s the difference.

    For instance, it would be a lot easier to swallow the Hickey pick not working out so far if he’d gotten Myers instead of Teubert. You could have a top 3 of Doughty, Myers, and Johnson, or you could easily trade Myers for your pick of many top offensive players. He would get you Bobby Ryan from Anaheim this second, this very second, and I probably wouldn’t even do that deal. Columbus would beg you to take Carter for Myers. You can probably get Parise.

    And a top line with Parise/Ryan/Carter – Kopitar – Williams is enormously different than a top line with Penner – Kopitar – Williams. Like, cup vs. no-cup different. That’s just one mistake (on top of the ten other ones), but it’s that one mistake that changes the fate of the entire franchise. It’s not very often you even get a position where you have an obvious chance at a star player with your pick, if you miss on those chances, it’s hard to recover. I mean just look at the Sharks. Their GM Doug Wilson has taken advantage of a lot of his chances, but I remember he had a chance to trade (Michalek, I believe) for Chris Pronger before the Ducks did, and he chose not to. The Ducks did, and they won the Cup.

    Not only that, but the draft in which Wilson drafted Michalek, in 2003, he had the 6th overall pick and a second 1st round pick around 15. The Ducks had one that was like 19 and one that was maybe 28. Both Sharks picks were ahead of both Ducks picks. Doug Wilson drafted Milan Michalek and Steve Bernier, Brian Burke drafted Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry. Not only did Perry and Getzlaf play key parts in winning the Cup for the Ducks, but a couple years later, the Ducks met the Sharks in the first round of the playoffs. The Sharks were coming off a presidents trophy win, people were saying they had the best team they’d ever assembled. Perry, Getzlaf (and Bobby Ryan and the defense) almost singlehandedly provided the offense to upset the Sharks. Meanwhile, Milan Michalek was dead quiet, and Steve Bernier was on his way to playing his way out of the NHL.

    If you think mistakes don’t matter, or all mistakes are created equal, let me tell you, the Sharks would have a cup right now if Doug Wilson knew what he was doing in 2003 (like he seems to now). Ryan Suter, Dion Phaneuf, Jeff Carter, Brent Seabrook, Zach Parise, Ryan Getzlaf, Brent burns, Ryan Kesler, Mike Richards, Corey Perry, Loui Eriksson, etc etc were all available when he picked Michalek, and everyone on that list from Zach Parise after was still available for the Bernier pick too. If he’d picked a name out of a hat he would have had a better chance of getting the better player than he did picking Michalek and Bernier. If he had just picked who Burke picked, or Parise and Kesler, or Carter and Parise, or Suter and Perry, any combination of the players I listed, they win a Cup.

    But he didn’t. And I’m not sure what year Lombardi took over LA, but LA was one of the few teams to make the same mistakes that year. So many teams drafted franchise players that year, the draft was so loaded, but the best the Kings got was Dustin Brown.

    So it’s far from one mistake. They add up. You miss out on all the best talent in 2003. You miss Tyler Myers. Who knows what else, and here you are. Your team is pretty good because you hit the jackpot with Kopitar, got the high pick for Doughty, but it’s not nearly good enough because it’s still missing, well, everything the GM missed.

    • Oh no. 3Team…. you shouldn’t have! You shouldn’t have!
      I commented on that 2003 draft (b4 DL) so many times and promised I wouldn’t again. Quisp bless him, on his site had had quite enough of me referencing that draft.

      Did you know the Kings had Three first rounders in that draft.
      Everyone you mentioned was available when they picked Brown. I used to read The Hockey News religiously at that time as I was living in the UK then. I so remember before the draft that the word on Brown was pos: he comes to play all the time neg: his offensive upside is very suspect.

      But then when the last two 1st round picks came along while Corey Perry was the only elite player still available in the first round (Shea Weber and Patrice Bergeron in the 2nd), what would it have taken to package the other two 1st’s to move up and grab anyone of a number of players a few spots earlier.

      Anyway, that is all pre DL. But yes I so agree w your assessment. It can be the smallest thing. If anyone of those four 1sts that I mention works out to be a very good winger, we’re probably not still in the position of asking who the heck is our first line rt or lt winger w Kopi?

      It’s easy to throw missiles at the coach…. and I for sure do have questions re: TM, but to say that is the reason….. sorry for those who want him out, but it just goes deeper than that.

      Oh…. 3Team…. one last point that I haven’t heard anyone else bring up… and I’m not saying it Is the case, but just an instinct that I have. While TM’s record over the last two years is good w the Kings, something about me feels uneasy about the ‘blend’ between DL and TM. For example true that Tampa Bay is playing beneath expectations this year, but I still really like the mix of Yzerman and Boucher.
      Wish I had that feeling w the Kings but I just don’t. So as long as Quick plays lights out they may be ok….. otherwise I have no idea how this will all shake out.

      But yeah, love your examples. Oh, btw, for everyone saying how Brian Burke is this and that…. seems he understood what needed to be done in Anaheim, and while he sort of mortgaged their future before leaving, he did bring in the necessary elements to win a cup….. then people saying he was crazy to make the trade for Kessel in Toronto.
      Well, they don’t seem to be doing badly to me, and they also play an upbeat type of game and while DL said so many teams are having difficulty scoring, it seems Toronto isn’t.

  8. 240 goals, not counting Parise.

    Is that unrealistic? Based on the players’ histories, and natural forward progress, I say it is damn realistic.

    Before the season, I saw the Kings scoring about 235-240.


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