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30 in 30

Los Angeles Kings fantasy outlook

Anze Kopitar, Drew Doughty safe options; rookie Michael Mersch could replace Milan Lucic

by Ben Zweiman @BZweimanNHL / NHL.com Staff Writer

As part of NHL.com's 30 in 30 series, our fantasy hockey staff is breaking down each team's fantasy landscape. From most valuable assets to underrated options, impact prospects and more, this guide should help fantasy owners prioritize players for drafts.

Starting at the top: Anze Kopitar, C; Drew Doughty, D

Kopitar returned to elite fantasy forward status last season after arguably his worst numbers since he was a rookie in 2006-07. The newly appointed Kings captain had 64 points (16 goals, 48 assists) and was minus-2 in 79 games in 2014-15 but bounced back with 74 points (25 goals, 49 assists) and a plus-34 rating in 81 games last season. Kopitar had gone six straight full NHL seasons with at least 200 shots on goal before falling to 134 in 2014-15 and 177 last season. Despite Kopitar's low shot total, he finished 20th in Yahoo standard scoring with great category coverage; along with his solid goals, assists and plus/minus, he also had 18 power-play points. The Slovenian center has always performed well regardless of linemates and is one of the safer fantasy forwards in the pool. 

Kings 30 in 30: Season outlook | Burning questions, reasons for optimism | Top prospects | Fantasy: Top 200

Coming off his first Norris Trophy, Doughty had his best season since 2009-10, when he had an NHL career-high 16 goals and 59 points (31 PPP) in 82 games. Last season, Doughty finished in the top 15 among NHL defensemen in goals (14), assists (37), points (51), plus/minus (plus-24) and PPP (24). The 26-year-old finished just outside the top 30 overall (31st) and was sixth at his position in Yahoo scoring after being drafted 52nd on average. Doughty normally gets overlooked, so landing him in the fourth or fifth round of a 12-team draft would be a coup.

Video: LAK@SJS, Gm3: Kopitar ties the game on the power play

Undervalued: Jake Muzzin, D

Mostly playing in Doughty's shadow, Muzzin quietly put together a solid 2015-16 season with eight goals, 32 assists and an NHL career-high 203 SOG, finishing 16th among defensemen in Yahoo. It was Muzzin's second consecutive season with at least 40 points, and he had an NHL career-high 64 PIMs. The 27-year-old also has contributed nicely on the Kings power play the past two seasons with five goals and 22 assists. Muzzin was tied for the fourth-lowest shooting percentage (3.9) among NHL defensemen who played 82 games last season, so if he duplicates his shot totals, chances are he'll score more than eight goals. If you're going to wait on drafting defensemen, Muzzin is a great option around the 10th or 11th round of a 10-team draft.

Overvalued: Jeff Carter, C

It's difficult to identify overvalued Kings players, but Carter could regress after being a valuable selection last season (50th in Yahoo; 111.8 ADP). If coach Darryl Sutter decides to shuffle the lines and move forward Tyler Toffoli to right wing on the first line with Kopitar, Carter could be looking at less-than-inspiring linemates in forwards Tanner Pearson and Marian Gaborik. Carter had 62 points each of the past two seasons but may be overdrafted because of name value rather than actual production. The Kings also have started to give expanded roles to their younger forwards, and that could eat into Carter's ice time. You shouldn't avoid Carter entirely, but there are other Kings forwards who are more appealing (Kopitar, Toffoli) for where they will be taken in a 10- or 12-team draft. 

Video: SJS@LAK, Gm5: Carter lights lamp by roofing his shot

Sleeper: Teddy Purcell, LW

There are plenty of spots open in the Kings' top six for Purcell, who agreed to terms on a one-year contract with Los Angeles on July 6 and could be a nice late-round selection in a 12-team draft. Before spending the past two seasons with the Edmonton Oilers and Florida Panthers, Purcell played with Steven Stamkos with the Tampa Bay Lightning, setting NHL career highs in goals (24), points (65) and plus/minus (plus-9) in 81 games in 2011-12. Sure, that was five seasons ago, but Purcell, who turns 31 on Sept. 8, could experience a renaissance playing with a proven center. He also could slot in on the Kings' first power-play unit, having scored 28 goals with 77 assists on the man-advantage in 559 NHL regular-season games. 

Bounce-back: Dustin Brown, LW/RW

You can bet Brown will be very motivated heading into the season after he was stripped of the Kings' captaincy in favor of Kopitar. The 31-year-old wing hasn't been fantasy relevant since 2011-12, but a lot of that has to do with his reduced role and some bad puck luck. Brown had a very respectable 218 SOG last season, but 11 goals to show for it (5.0 shooting percentage). Brown scoring 20 goals with 40 points, 50-60 PIM and 200-plus SOG, not to mention a healthy amount of hits, is very possible, particularly if he can show Sutter he again deserves a spot in the top six. He isn't worth targeting in a 10-team draft but warrants a look in deeper formats, especially if hits is a category. Gaborik also is a candidate to bounce back, but between his injury concerns and participation for Team Europe in the World Cup of Hockey 2016, the 34-year-old may not have much in the tank a few months into the season. 

Video: LAK@CHI: Brown gives Kings 4-0 lead with a backhand

Impact prospect: Michael Mersch, LW 

It may be now or never for Mersch, 23, who led Ontario of the American Hockey League with 24 goals last season and has had back-to-back seasons of at least 40 points in the AHL. The 6-foot-2, 218-pound left wing had a goal and two assists in 17 games with Los Angeles, so he won't be completely overwhelmed by making the jump full-time. The Kings will need to find a way to replace Milan Lucic, who signed with the Oilers in free agency. Though Purcell will get the first look, Mersch could emerge if Purcell struggles to find chemistry with new linemates. Los Angeles has slowly gotten younger the past couple of seasons with Toffoli, Pearson, Nick Shore and Andy Andreoff, and even though 2014 first-round pick (No. 29) Adrian Kempe possesses more upside, Mersch is more NHL-ready. Monitor Mersch at training camp and flag him on your watch list. 

Goalie outlook

Jonathan Quick had an NHL career-high 40 wins with a 2.22 goals-against average, a .918 save percentage and five shutouts, and was named a Vezina Trophy finalist for the second time. The two-time Stanley Cup champion has played the most games of any NHL goalie over the past two seasons (140) and is 30 years old. On top of that, Quick could start for Team USA in the World Cup in September, giving him added mileage going into the season. Quick could start to show some fatigue, and that would either lead to a regression in his overall stats or fewer starts in favor of potential backups Jeff Zatkoff and Jack Campbell. Temper your expectations for Quick this season and try to wait until the fourth or fifth round to target him.

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