LOS ANGELES (AP) — Drew Doughty isn’t the only player on the Los Angeles Kings roster who was disappointed about the team’s disappointing run down the stretch. But as they go into a third straight offseason missing the playoffs, the defenseman laid down a challenge to the entire organization.
“As a team, we need to be better and get better. That’s not just on the players,” he said.
Doughty went a step further, saying he wouldn’t be happy if the team decided to maintain the status quo and not make a big move before training camp started in September.
Doughty is one of four players still on the roster from the team’s Stanley Cup runs in 2012 and 2014. The Kings have won only one postseason series since their last title.
Los Angeles goes into the offseason with a deep group of prospects and salary cap room, which is why some veterans have been vocal about taking the next step.
“With all this cap room, we’ve got to bring guys in. That’s it,” Doughty said. “There’s no point waiting for these prospects to develop when you’ve got guys in their prime, that are hungry to win and sick of losing.”
Los Angeles was within four points of a playoff spot in early April, but went 5-10-1 after the trade deadline, including five straight losses to end the season.
That resulted in Los Angeles being tied for sixth in the West Division with 49 points. When asked why his team struggled, coach Todd McLellan said the team’s confidence began to wane over the past month.
“We believed for a while we could get there and then it went away,” he said.
BETWEEN THE PIPES
Jonathan Quick is likely to be exposed in the expansion draft after Cal Petersen played in 35 games and posted a 2.89 goals-against average.
Petersen, who went 9-18-5 and saved 91.1% of the shots he faced, established more consistency as the season went along and showed that he’s ready to take over as the top netminder.
Quick has been plagued by injuries the past couple seasons. He posted two shutouts in February when the Kings went on a six-game winning streak, but durability concerns and a large contract are two reasons why he isn’t expected to be protected for the expansion draft.
Anze Kopitar became the fourth player in franchise history to reach 1,000 career points. The forward got off to a great start with 42 points in the first 41 games, but had just eight in the final 15.
“We have to take this year and learn from it,” he said. “There were some bright spots and there were some not-so-bright spots that we have to improve on and get better at and make sure it doesn’t happen again.”
WHAT WENT WRONG
The Kings fell behind early in many games, scoring the first goal in only 18 of their 56 games. The power play got off to a strong start the first half of the season before collapsing and ending up 20th with an 18.9% conversion rate.
Los Angeles also struggled all season at even strength with its 107 goals being tied for third worst.
“The power play was two different seasons. When it went dry it caused problems for us,” McLellan said.
EYE ON THE FUTURE
Center Quinton Byfield, the second overall pick in last year’s draft, was called up late in the season and played in six games. Fellow center Alex Turcotte, the ninth overall choice in the 2019 draft, is fourth in scoring at the team’s AHL Ontario affiliate. Both could be attractive trade candidates if the Kings wanted to make a move for a top-line player like Buffalo’s Jack Eichel.
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