Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Los Angeles Kings fantasy preview for 2018-19

Anze Kopitar, C ( rank: 23) -- The Los Angeles Kings captain was one of the biggest fantasy steals last season, going from a low average draft position (100.4) to 19th overall in Yahoo. Playing mostly on a line with wings Dustin Brown and Alex Iafallo, Kopitar reached NHL career highs in goals (35), assists (57) and points (92), and won the Selke Trophy given to the best defensive forward. Now with the offseason addition of veteran Ilya Kovalchuk, Kopitar has a chance to maintain his even-strength production and potentially improve his power-play totals on the first unit with Kovalchuk and a healthy Jeff Carter. Kopitar, who turns 31 on Aug. 24, is worth targeting in the late second round of a standard fantasy draft.
Drew Doughty, D (36) -- He was one of two defensemen (Victor Hedman) with at least 60 points, 20 power-play points, 200 shots on goal (205) and a plus-20 or better (plus-23) last season. Like Kopitar, Doughty is capable of even better power-play performance (had 31 PPP in 2009-10) if Carter stays healthy and Kovalchuk makes a smooth transition back to the NHL. Doughty signed an eight-year contract extension with the Kings on June 29, shortly after they agreed to terms with Kovalchuk, and is's fifth-ranked defenseman for 2018-19 with added value in hits leagues (127 last season; 1.8 per game in NHL career).
Jonathan Quick, G (42) -- He reminded fantasy owners how valuable he can be, regardless of goal support. Los Angeles had a middle-of-the-road offense (2.89 goals per game; 16th in NHL) and power play (20.4 percent; T-17th), yet Quick finished in the top 10 in wins (33; 9th) and shutouts (five; T-4th), and was among leaders in goals-against average (2.40; second) and save percentage (.921; T-3rd; minimum 60 games). Quick is ranked sixth among fantasy goalies by and would likely move ahead of potential 2019 unrestricted free agent Sergei Bobrovsky if the Columbus Blue Jackets trade left wing Artemi Panarin (another potential 2019 UFA).
Ilya Kovalchuk, LW/RW (52) -- Outside of center John Tavares signing with the Toronto Maple Leafs, there isn't a bigger offseason fantasy storyline than Kovalchuk returning to the NHL on a three-year contract with the Kings. The 35-year-old, who spent the past five seasons in the Kontinental Hockey League, is a fringe top 50 overall fantasy player based on his point-per-game NHL track record (816 points in 816 games) and likely top-six and first power-play placement. Expected to be dual-eligible in Yahoo, Kovalchuk is the best fantasy wing on the Kings roster and has 70-point potential this season.
Jeff Carter, C (104) -- The second-line center will likely be a fantasy bargain in upcoming drafts after missing most of last season with a lacerated ankle tendon. But Carter had at least 62 points in each of his prior three seasons and was close to a point-per-game player (22 points in 27 games) when healthy last season. Kovalchuk has a chance to boost the Kings power play, but Carter, who had nine PPP last season (82-game pace of 27 PPP), is just as likely to make a sizable impact in that regard. If you address other positions earlier in drafts, Carter is a viable second fantasy center who should be attainable outside the top 100.
Dustin Brown, LW/RW - INJ. (154) -- He was right up there with Vegas Golden Knights center William Karlsson for the biggest surprise in all of fantasy hockey last season. Brown provided elite coverage of all six standard fantasy categories (28 goals, 33 assists, plus-31, 58 penalty minutes, 15 PPP, 222 SOG), as well as hits (189), on the top line and first power-play unit with Kopitar. Brown is recovering from shoulder surgery April 26 and should be ready for training camp, but his role could change at even strength and/or on the man-advantage with Kovalchuk being added to the mix. Considering how Kopitar helped revitalize Brown's career and fantasy stock, the veteran wing needs to be taken seriously in middle rounds.
Tyler Toffoli, C/RW (158) -- It's impressive that Toffoli was so close to the top 100 in Yahoo (114th) with his trusted linemate Carter missing so much time. Toffoli had NHL career highs in SOG (251) and PPP (12), the latter total having plenty of room for improvement if he's the fifth member of the Kings' first unit (with Kopitar, Carter, Kovalchuk and Doughty). The risk of Toffoli or Brown being left off that unit is enough to keep both outside's top 150, but Toffoli could feasibly have career highs in multiple categories with the Kings offense looking dangerous again. He's a potential steal outside the first 10 rounds (120 picks).
Jake Muzzin, D (174) -- The defenseman quietly had an NHL career high 42 points (eight goals, 34 assists), his third season of at least 40. He frequently has seen first power-play usage in recent seasons, scoring double-digit PPP in each of the past four. But the unfortunate reality for Muzzin is that the Kings now have too many strong fantasy forwards to expect a two-defenseman set on the first power-play unit. That could hurt Muzzin's fantasy value in at least one category, but he's still a top 175 asset as a reliable source of goals, SOG, hits and PIMs in the context of his position.
Other players with fantasy upside in late rounds or off waiver wire: Alec Martinez, D; Tanner Pearson, LW; Alex Iafallo, C/LW**; Adrian Kempe, C/LW, LAK**
**Potential 2019 restricted free agent
INJ. - Injury concern entering 2018-19

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