NHL.com is providing in-depth analysis for each of its 31 teams throughout August. Today, three questions facing the LA Kings.
After missing the Stanley Cup Playoffs twice in the past three seasons, immediately following winning the Stanley Cup twice in three seasons (2012, 2014), there has been an organizational restructuring for the LA Kings.
Rob Blake replaced Dean Lombardi as general manager on April 10, and Jon Stevens, who has been on the staff since 2010, replaced Darryl Sutter as coach on April 23. However, the Kings face additional questions not related to their new management group. They are:
1. How many starts will a healthy Jonathan Quick make?
Quick was 8-5-2 with a 2.26 goals-against average, .917 save percentage and two shutouts in 17 games last season, when he missed more than four months after injuring his groin on opening night at the San Jose Sharks.
If healthy, the 31-year-old should be in line for another heavy workload. He has the fourth-most starts (442) and wins (238) since the 2009-10 season and has the potential to be a top-five goalie this season.
"[Quick] has that sense about him that I've never seen in a goalie," Stevens said. "He would never blame anybody but himself. He could get scored on a 3-on-0 and he would look inside himself and thought he could have done something more. I think that's a great trait in a goalie, and it rubs off on his team and his teammates."
The Kings signed Darcy Kuemper on July 1 to back up Quick. Kuemper was 8-5-3 in 17 starts with the Minnesota Wild last season.
Video: 31 in 31: Los Angeles Kings 2017-18 season preview
2. Can Anze Kopitar rebound?
Kopitar, in his first season as captain, had 52 points (12 goals, 40 assists) in 76 games, his fewest points in a full season since entering the NHL in 2006-07. The center finished second on the Kings in points (Jeff Carter, 66) after leading them in each of the previous nine seasons. Kopitar, who will turn 30 on Aug. 24, has missed 18 games in the past 10 seasons.
Expect Los Angeles to improve its average of 2.43 goals per game, tied for 24th in the NHL last season, meaning Kopitar should fare better.
"I think you're going to see a different player this year," Stevens said.
3. Will Tyler Toffoli get back on track?
Toffoli missed 19 games with a lower-body injury, and the loss was felt by the Kings, who had trouble scoring.
The 25-year-old forward signed a three-year, $13.8 million contract as a restricted free agent on June 7 ($4.6 million average annual value). He had 34 points (16 goals, 18 assists) in 63 games after NHL career highs of 31 goals, 27 assists, 58 points and a plus-35 rating in 2015-16.
Prior to last season, Toffoli missed six games in two seasons and averaged 27 goals, 53 points and a plus-30 rating.
Video: ANA@LAK: Carter sets up Toffoli for second goal