The Los Angeles Kings had a remarkably stable roster in the season after winning the Stanley Cup in 2012, and that is a trend that hasn't changed much leading into the 2013-14 campaign.
Los Angeles said goodbye to a couple of supporting cast members from the 2012 title team this offseason, but all of the key cogs from that edition remain. In fact, the Kings could dress 16 players on opening night in October who were among the 20 in the lineup for Game 6 against the New Jersey Devils -- only Simon Gagne, Rob Scuderi, Dustin Penner and Jonathan Bernier are gone.
Scuderi and Penner left via free agency in the offseason, and Bernier was traded to Toronto for Matt Frattin, Bernier's replacement (Ben Scrivens) and a second-round pick. The Kings will likely look to their younger defensemen to absorb Scuderi's minutes (and tough assignments), and they could get a boost from a healthy Willie Mitchell. Jeff Schultz was also a depth signing as a free agent after he was bought out by the Washington Capitals.
Frattin and another trade acquisition, Daniel Carcillo, join what could be a crowded roster up front. The Kings could miss Scuderi, especially if Mitchell's comeback doesn't work out, but they still look like one of the favorites in the Western Conference along with the Chicago Blackhawks and the team they've defeated each of the past two playoffs, the St. Louis Blues.
Here is the projected 2013-14 lineup for the Kings:
NOTES: Carcillo might be a surprise on the second line and will face plenty of competition for that spot. Toffoli played there at times during the 2013 Stanley Cup Playoffs, and prospects Tanner Pearson and Linden Vey could push for a place on the second line.
Inserting Carcillo and Frattin in the top nine (along with keeping Toffoli) leaves quite a scrum for the fourth line. Lewis is probably the safest bet to play every night, but any of those five would be a regular on most clubs.
A healthy Mitchell not only would give the Kings one of the top defense corps in the West, it would give them nine NHL defensemen on a one-way contract. Schultz and Keaton Ellerby could be subject to waivers and being sent to the American Hockey League if everyone is healthy. The Kings would have decide if they want to carry 14 forwards or eight defensemen; Toffoli is the only player projected to be on the roster who wouldn't need to clear waivers to be sent down.
Quick was great again in the playoffs and will try to earn the No. 1 job for the United States at the 2014 Olympics in Sochi. Scrivens could prove to be a nice, cheap addition with a better defensive team in front of him. Martin Jones, a restricted free agent, is one of the better young No. 3s in the League.
2013-14 FANTASY PREVIEW: KINGS
Under-valued: Slava Voynov -- Led Kings defensemen with 25 points last season then looked even better in the playoffs, posting six goals and 13 points in 18 games. Voynov, 23, has plenty of room to grow and could turn into an elite fantasy blueliner as early as next season.
Over-valued: Dustin Brown -- Still an extremely useful fantasy player, Brown is more of a mid-round draftee than an early-round pick. The forward consistently hovers around 25 goals and 55 points for a full 82-game season, so don't expect the 30-plus goals he had in 2007-08.
Sleeper: Tyler Toffoli -- If given a chance to stick on the team's second line with Jeff Carter and Mike Richards, the two-time 100-point performer in the OHL has the chance to deliver a solid fantasy season after getting six points in 12 playoff games for the Kings in 2013.
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