With just over a week to go before the 2022-23 NHL regular season starts it’s time for one of the most fun things a hockey fan gets to do – preview their team. Welcome to the Los Angeles Kings 2022-23 season preview.
Needless to say different fans have different expectations for their teams. For the Kings, these expectations are coming from a die hard fan that believes that even though last seasons results weren’t expected, returning to the playoffs this season are. With the new skill added in the off-season and the year plus a summer of development from the young guns like Quinton Byfield, Arthur Kaliyev, Sean Durzi, etc. this team should be better but so should the rest of the Pacific division. People can trash the Pacific division all they want but like it or not this is a very competitive division and it is out for blood – just look at some the rivalries. You have the battle of Alberta, the battle of California, Seattle vs Vancouver – this division does not like each other. So this season, the Kings expectations from me at least playoffs. Last season they weren’t, last season I was hoping for us to be playing competitive games in April and not waiting for the draft in February. Now in the playoffs what do I expect? Well to be honest, nothing more than last season. Going seven games against a team like Edmonton without our top defencemen, a top-six scorer, and having 21, 22, and 23 year olds who weren’t even supposed to be playing in the NHL regular season let alone NHL playoffs that season is something amazing that us Kings fans couldn’t have been more happy about. So if we get to the playoffs, I hope for a good fight, no sweep, maybe two to three wins, and I’d be very happy once more.
The Team On The Ice
Fiala – Kopitar – Kempe
Vilardi – Danault – Moore
Iafallo – Byfield – Kaliyev
Grundstrom – Lizotte – Lemieux
Doughty – Anderson
Roy – Durzi
Edler – Walker
Quick – Petersen
Let’s start with the easiest position to rank at least by how many people there are, the goal tending. Quick is coming off a great season and even if he were to regress just a little bit it would still be fine considering his age in that it’s expected.
Cal Petersen needs to have a good season, the Kings believed in him and gave him a big extension expecting him to be the starter of the Kings LAST SEASON. In my opinion Cal is still going to be the goalie that the Kings are paying him to be and last season was just a bad one. Oh, and if things go off the rails – we still have Quicky.
Next is our defense. This has went from a position two seasons ago that was lacking to a position of over abundace. Drew Doughty is coming off a great season that was sadly shortened from injury. Although he’ll never be worth that $11M per season contract, he’s still a number one D-man and great one at that. If he continues where he left off you can expect 40+ points and solid defense. His partner Mikey Anderson is young, physical, amazing defensively, and doesn’t take penalties. Offensively it’s a ghost town but at 23, and great at basically everything else, that’s fine for now.
Matt Roy plays a great two-way game, is a leader, and a veteran on this team. Him and Mikey are very underrated league wide and great top four defensemen. Sean Durzi, is great offensively, an amazing skater and is now a full time top four defensemen on this team.
Alex Edler is a veteran who surprised most Kings fans last season with a great two-way game re-signed for league minimum this season and is a great D-man to have.
I put Sean Walker as our sixth defensemen. Walker, when actually healthy, brings another solid two-way game. He has these moments during games where he becomes untouchable and it’s magnificent to watch. About once or twice a game he will look like a full time top two defensemen with his skating, strength, putting pucks on net, scoring even, but like I said, only about once or twice a game. Besides that he’s a perfect third pairing guy. Defense is easily our most clogged position but again, a good problem to have if the injury bug comes back around this season.
+ Speed, passing, deking, offensive IQ, power-play, shot, agility, point production, age
– Defence, physicality, playoff production
+ Defence, faceoffs, physicality, point production, two-way IQ, passing, penalties, health, playoff production
– Age, speed
+ Shot, Speed, Hands, skating, point production, offensive IQ, power play, age, passing
– Defence, physicality
+ Playmaking, shot accuracy, age
– Confidence, consistency, health
+ Defence, faceoffs, point production, penalty kill, physicality, two-way IQ, passing, consistency
+ Consistency, point production, penalty kill, chemistry, defence, passing, two-way IQ, health
+ Defence, health, penalty kill, passing, chemistry, penalties, two-way IQ
+ Size, defence, age
– Point production, health
+ Shot, age, defence, health, two-way IQ
– Skating, passing
+ Physicality, age, competitiveness
+ Speed, competitiveness, consistency, age
+ Physicality, age, speed
– Penalties, consistency, health, point production
So overall a great forward group. One that isn’t built for a division leading phenomenal regular season, but one built to make the playoffs and do damage. We lack the high end goal scoring but make it up with an amazing two-way game. Danault, Moore, Kopitar, Iafallo, that’s selke defence while giving you anywhere from 35-70 points each. Then you have Kaliyev, Anderson, Roy, and all of a sudden you realize this team is perfectly built. We don’t have the goal scoring of the Senators for example, but our scoring is no where near as bad as their defence is for them. And of course we did add Fiala in the off-season and Kaliyev who has 30 goal potential got a year of development and a summer. This is a young electric forward group with just enough skillful veteran leadership to help the young guns out.
Biggest Expected Improvements From 2021-22
To wrap this up, what should we the fans expect the Kings to improve on from the 2021-22 season? I have three things and let’s just say these are not improvements that would be helpful, they are improvements that NEED to happen.
First, goal scoring. The Kings lacked goal scoring last season heavily, we ranked 20th in the league but thanks to an amazing defensive game and once again a weak Pacific division we were able to get into the playoffs without scoring much. This off-season the Kings did two things to help this. They added Kevin Fiala who like I touched on earlier isn’t the greatest defensively but oh my lord will this guy bring the heat. He alone should help add 30+ goals for the Kings, add on his amazing playmaking ability, his skating, and you have that elite scoring touch you’ve been waiting for as a Kings fan.
What the Kings also did is hire a new assistant coach. Our power-play was abysmal last season ranking 27th in the NHL, nearly the worst out of all 32 teams. That was a big factor in our lack of goal scoring, so the Kings moved former assistant coach Marco Sturm down to the AHL to be the head coach of the Ontario Reign and brought in Jim Hiller to take over for Sturm on the NHL team.
With a new assistant coach, the addition of Kevin Fiala, and the year of development players like Kaliyev and Byfield got, our power-play should go from bottom five, to top fifteenth minimum.
The final expected improvement for me is our youth. A lot of fans love to go after our prospects or young guns like Byfield, Vilardi, Turcotte, etc, and rightfully so in a way. These were top end first round picks and the best player there that has earned a full time spot is a bottom-six forward right now. Now Turcotte has suffered major concussions so it is neither the Kings or his fault that he hasn’t developed well but still the point stands. This season me and a lot of other Kings fans are expecting Byfield to have 35+ points and good defence, Kaliyev to score 25+ goals, Vilardi to at least have a great AHL season or maybe even earn a full time roster spot in the NHL, players like Clarke, Madden, Spence, etc, to tear up their respective leagues, because some players are running out of time. Brock Faber was traded only because he held high value, Turcotte and Vilardi’s value are probably the lowest it has ever been and if they can’t be traded, they aren’t good enough to be play in the NHL, and they aren’t advancing in their development through the AHL, then the only option left will be to let them go when there contract runs out. These young men are running out of time to prove they’re top-six forward in the NHL, this Kings team is only getting better and there are very few roster spots available. But overall I expect a big jump in a lot of their developments.