Kings goalkeeper Jonathan Bernier makes a save against the Ducks in a game… (Wally Skalij / Los Angeles…)
When will Drew Doughty's long contract impasse end — and what will be its long-term effect?
Doughty and the Kings have been in a stalemate all summer. Sometimes, in the past, when the Kings have played hardball in negotiations, it has fractured a relationship beyond repair (hello, Mike Cammallieri). The Kings don't need that to happen here, not with Doughty's enormous upside, a player who could anchor the defense for the next decade and beyond.
Whither Dustin Penner?
Penner had an ineffective Kings' debut last season, when he came over from the Oilers. Acquired to add scoring, he managed six points in 19 regular-season games and four assists in six playoff games. Entering the final year of his contract, Penner needs to provide a big-bodied presence in front of opposing goaltenders, and far more scoring than he provided last season.
What role will Jonathan Bernier play?
Bernier is considered one of the top goalie prospects in the league, but Jonathan Quick's emergence as the team's definitive No. 1 has kept Bernier in a secondary role. He is certainly a useful insurance policy and also possible trade bait. Of course, Bernier's inability to push for more playing time has more to do with Quick's steady and consistent play.
Players to watch
Mike Richards. The Kings' fan base wanted bold, and they got it. The Kings gave up plenty to secure Richards' services from the Flyers, including top prospect Brayden Schenn. Richards has a significant upside; he is a strong two-way player who was a catalyst on Canada's 2010 Olympic gold-medal team. The Flyers made him available for a variety of reasons — including salary-cap considerations and rumblings of dressing-room discontent — but the Kings' brain trust includes enough Philadelphia alums that they know what they're getting.
Anze Kopitar. Kopitar was in the midst of another quality season as the team's No. 1 center when a severe ankle injury sidelined him in the regular season and undermined the Kings' hopes of making a deep postseason push. He has spent most of his tenure with the Kings forced to deal with shutdown defense pairs because the quality of centers playing behind him fell off significantly.
Simon Gagne. Gagne happens to be a former linemate of Richards in Philadelphia, and the two developed great chemistry there. Gagne has been an effective, above-average NHL forward in years when he is injury-free.