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Team Reset

Kings counting on McLellan to reverse fortunes of underachieving group

New coach will have similar roster to one that finished second-to-last in NHL standings

by Brett Amadon / NHL.com Staff Writer

After the NHL Draft, free agency and other offseason moves, NHL.com is taking a look at where each team stands. Today, the Los Angeles Kings:

The Los Angeles Kings, coming off their worst record in 13 seasons, hope a coaching change will help them regroup and qualify for the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

The Kings had 71 points (31-42-9) last season, second-to-last in the NHL ahead of the Ottawa Senators (64 points) and their fewest since they had 68 in 2006-07.

 

[RELATED: Complete Team Reset coverage]

 

Los Angeles hired Todd McLellan as coach April 16 to replace Willie Desjardins, who took over after John Stevens was fired Nov. 4, 2018, following a 4-8-1 start.

"I understand where this team is, and maybe even more so than the players," McLellan said at his introductory press conference April 17. "I have accepted the plan. I can be patient, but when it comes to standards and practice habits, what we talked about, the execution or attempt to execute, that's where the patience can come a little thinner."

Video: Can new head coach McLellan revive Kings next season?

The Kings have missed the playoffs two of the past three seasons and have not advanced past the Western Conference First Round since winning the Stanley Cup in 2014, their second NHL championship in three seasons.

McLellan spent the past 11 seasons as coach of the San Jose Sharks and Edmonton Oilers, who fired him Nov. 20 after they went 9-10-1 to begin his fourth season. In 2016-17, he guided the Oilers to their first playoff appearance in 11 seasons before losing to the Anaheim Ducks in seven games in the Western Conference Second Round.

Video: McLellan on becoming the Kings' next head coach

He'll be tasked with turning around largely the same roster from last season after what has been a quiet offseason for the Kings. They signed defenseman Joakim Ryan to a one-year contract and forward Martin Frk to a one-year, two-way contract July 1. Four days later, they signed forward Mario Kempe to a one-year, two-way contract.

"I think this team won Cups because of attitude and character, not because they were the most skilled team, and it got them to the top of the mountain," McLellan said. "Attitude and character can't take them deep into the valley now. … The players will have to make that decision when they walk in the door that they are going to adjust now a little bit, accept some responsibility for the practice habits, for the standards they set for themselves individually and collectively, and I'll push them up."

Here is what the Kings look like today:

 

Key additions

Todd McLellan, coach: The 51-year-old was 434-282-90 with the Sharks and Oilers, reaching the playoffs seven times. He is 37-38 in the NHL postseason. McLellan has twice been voted a finalist for the Jack Adams Award as NHL coach of the year (2009 with Sharks; 2017 with Oilers). … Joakim Ryan, D: The 26-year-old had seven assists in 44 regular-season games with the Sharks last season and one assist in 20 playoff games.

 

Key departure

Dion Phaneuf, D: On June 15, the Kings bought out the final two seasons of the seven-year contract the 34-year-old signed with the Toronto Maple Leafs on Dec. 31, 2013. He had six points (one goal, five assists) and was minus-21 in 67 games in 2018-19, his first full season with Los Angeles.

 

On the cusp

Jaret Anderson-Dolan, F: Selected in the second round (No. 41) of the 2017 NHL Draft, he had one assist in five games with the Kings early last season before being sent back to Spokane of the Western Hockey League, where he had 43 points (20 goals, 23 assists) in 32 games. Anderson-Dolan, who turns 20 on Sept. 12, could crack the opening night lineup and stay in the NHL this season. … Alex Turcotte, F: The 18-year-old was chosen with the No. 5 pick in the 2019 NHL Draft after he had 62 points (27 goals, 35 assists) in 37 games for the USA Hockey National Team Development Program Under-18 team last season. He is committed to play at the University of Wisconsin but could be signed and called up by the Kings late in the season. … Rasmus Kupari, F: Selected by the Kings with the No. 20 pick in the 2018 NHL Draft, the 19-year-old had 33 points (12 goals, 21 assists) in 43 games last season for Karpat of Liiga, Finland's top professional league. … Michael Anderson, D: The 20-year-old, taken in the fourth round (No. 103) of the 2017 draft, had 27 points (six goals, 21 assists) in 40 games as a sophomore for the University of Minnesota Duluth, helping it win its second consecutive NCAA championship. He signed a three-year, entry-level contract April 23.

Video: Kings draft F Alex Turcotte No. 5

 

What they still need

A goal-scorer. The Kings scored 199 goals last season, second to last in the NHL ahead of the Ducks (196). Dustin Brown and Anze Kopitar tied for the Los Angeles lead with 22 goals, the second-fewest of NHL team leaders ahead of the 19 by Brad Richardson and Alex Galchenyuk for the Arizona Coyotes.

 

Fantasy focus

Forward Tyler Toffoli hasn't come close to his 31-goal, 58-point totals from 2015-16 in any of the three seasons since. Toffoli had 226 shots on goal last season but had a shooting percentage of 5.8 percent, the lowest of any forward in the NHL with at least that many SOG. The hiring of McLellan could lead to new linemates for Toffoli and renewed fantasy upside. Plus, he could have extra motivation in a contract year; he can become an unrestricted free agent after this season. -- Pete Jensen

Video: LAK@WSH: Toffoli blasts one-timer for PPG

 

Projected lineup

Alex Iafallo -- Anze Kopitar -- Tyler Toffoli

Ilya Kovalchuk -- Adrian Kempe -- Dustin Brown

Carl Grundstrom -- Jaret Anderson-Dolan -- Jeff Carter

Austin Wagner -- Michael Amadio -- Trevor Lewis

Derek Forbort -- Drew Doughty

Alec Martinez -- Matt Roy

Joakim Ryan -- Sean Walker

Jonathan Quick

Jack Campbell

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