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Features

Depth at center question Kings need to answer

Thursday, 08.13.2015 / 3:00 AM / NHL.com's 30 in 30 package: 2015-16

Curtis Zupke - NHL.com Correspondent

LOS ANGELES -- The Los Angeles Kings' first early postseason in six years understandably brought a lot of questions. After two Stanley Cup championships and three trips to the Western Conference Final in four seasons, cracks are visible in their mini-dynasty.

The good news is the Kings are used to adjusting and dealing with adversity, having proven to be one the NHL's most resilient teams the past few seasons. And if they get back to the Stanley Cup Playoffs, they remain a dangerous and imposing team.

Here are three questions the Kings must answer:

Doughty, Lucic give Kings reasons for optimism

Thursday, 08.13.2015 / 3:00 AM / NHL.com's 30 in 30 package: 2015-16

Curtis Zupke - NHL.com Correspondent

LOS ANGELES -- The 2014-15 NHL season was one to forget for the Los Angeles Kings, who were shorthanded at the start, beset by injuries, and didn't have the depth or energy to stay afloat in the Western Conference. They were the first defending Stanley Cup champion to miss the playoffs since 2007.

But the Kings remain one of the more feared teams in the West because of their mettle, style of play, and goalie Jonathan Quick. They have lost some of the pieces from their two championship teams, but remain a team no opponent wants to face in the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Here are four reasons for optimism this season:

Zykov, Shore among Kings' top five prospects

Thursday, 08.13.2015 / 3:00 AM / NHL.com's 30 in 30 package: 2015-16

Curtis Zupke - NHL.com Correspondent

LOS ANGELES -- The stability of the Los Angeles Kings roster over the past three seasons hasn't allowed for much promotion, but that is likely to change because their Calder Cup champion American Hockey League affiliate is moving to Ontario, Calif.

The hour drive from Staples Center means the Kings can easily make a recall, either for an injury replacement or to give a prospect a quick look.

The Kings lack defensemen and centers in their system, and did not have a first-round pick in the 2015 NHL Draft.

Here is a look at the Kings' top five prospects, according to NHL.com:

Playoff-free season has Kings rested, motivated

Thursday, 08.13.2015 / 3:00 AM / NHL.com's 30 in 30 package: 2015-16

Curtis Zupke - NHL.com Correspondent

NHL.com continues its preview of the 2015-16 season, which will include in-depth looks at all 30 teams throughout August.

LOS ANGELES -- For the past few seasons, the Los Angeles Kings were the self-described cockroaches of the NHL, seemingly impossible to eliminate no matter how dire the circumstances. It was a remarkable trait in the NHL salary-cap era, and it made their demise all the more profound.

Facing must-win games, the Kings lost 4-2 to the Edmonton Oilers on April 7 and were eliminated from contention for the Stanley Cup Playoffs with a 3-1 loss to the Calgary Flames two days later. It was the first time a defending Cup champion failed to make the postseason since the Carolina Hurricanes in 2007.

Injuries and off-ice issues on defense combined with overuse of goalie Jonathan Quick and defenseman Drew Doughty ultimately cost the Kings.

"This season we were all struggling to find that certain 'it' or whatever you want to call it all year," Kings general manager Dean Lombardi said. "And when it was over, after Edmonton and Calgary, I think the reality is we got what we deserved, and we have nobody to feel sorry for … every time we thought we were going to get out of it because we knew how to win or we had been in big games before, well, that didn't happen. But now we can learn from this."

Los Angeles Kings fantasy hockey outlook

Thursday, 08.13.2015 / 3:00 AM / Fantasy Hockey Draft Rankings, Advice and Analysis

Pete Jensen - NHL.com Fantasy Insider

As part of NHL.com's offseason 30 in 30 package, fantasy hockey insiders Matt Cubeta and Pete Jensen will break down each team's fantasy landscape. They will look at the players at the top of the ranks, an undervalued player, an overvalued player, a deep sleeper (players likely ranked outside the top 200 overall players) and the goalie outlook for each NHL team.

Leading the way: Anze Kopitar and Drew Doughty

Kopitar was a fantasy disappointment last season, but was still among leaders in assists (48, T-9th) and power-play points (24, T-23rd). His shots on goal per game (1.7) dropped off compared to his 2013-14 (2.4) and career averages (2.6). The Los Angeles Kings were hurt by injuries and off-ice issues last season, but Kopitar has produced close to a point per game before and could bounce back with Milan Lucic on his left side. Expect a return to 70-plus points for Kopitar and a return to the Stanley Cup Playoffs for Los Angeles. Target Kopitar in the third or fourth round as the second center on your fantasy roster.

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