LA Kings Drew Doughty

Credit: Chris O'Meara

The Pacific Division looks like anybody’s to win. Here are three reasons the LA Kings have a realistic chance to win their division in 2022-23.

A healthy Drew Doughty

LA was a surprise for many people last season, with the Kings reaching 99 points despite being hit hard by the injury bug. They lost many key players down the stretch last year, but none bigger than Drew Doughty.

The Kings’ veteran missed five weeks at the beginning of the year after a knee-on-knee collision, only to sustain a wrist injury in early March that would ultimately require season-ending surgery. As a result, Doughty finished the year with just 39 games played; however, in those 39, he recorded 31 points and looked like he was back to his Norris Trophy-winning form.

A healthy Doughty back for the 2022-23 season will be huge for the LA Kings. Not only will the Kings be getting their best defenseman back, but a focused and motivated Doughty will also take a lot of the pressure off other players on the Kings’ blueline.

He is essential to the success of the Kings and, barring any injuries, will be the key to advancing to the top of the Pacific Division.

LA Kings Quinton Byfield
Credit: Debora Robinson / NHLI via Getty Images

Younger players taking additional steps

The Kings’ prospect pool has been raved about for years due to their talent and potential. Last year, fans got glimpses of what the future holds with the youngsters in the line-up.

However, for the Kings to contend for first in the Pacific Division, younger players need to be consistent in their level of play and make an impact night in and night out.

In what will presumably be his first full year, Quinton Byfield, seems to be a lock for the third-line center position, and Arthur Kaliyev looks to also have an elevated role on the wing. These players will be essential in any Kings’ run to lead the division, but it may hinge on their ability to produce in their projected roles. 

The young D-corps of Mikey Anderson and Sean Durzi did an outstanding job down the stretch and stepped up in the playoffs as well. Assuming that their development stays on track and the Kings sign the two RFA’s, the defense looks to be in great shape.

If LA’s youngsters begin to contribute consistently, look for the team to not only compete for the Pacific Division but also be contenders to come out of the Western Conference. 

The acquisition of Kevin Fiala

In late June, the Kings acquired Kevin Fiala for prospect Brock Faber and a first-round pick. The front office promptly signed the 26-year-old to a seven-year, $7.875 million AAV contract.

Fiala is coming off an 85-point season and will likely be placed on the first line alongside Adrian Kempe and Anze Kopitar. In Fiala, the Kings traded for the type of player they had been trying to get for quite some time; a dynamic winger who is a threat every time he is on the ice. Fiala solidifies the Kings’ top-six and makes their first two lines a formidable force for any opponent.

With the return of Doughty, the progression of young players, and the addition of Fiala, the Kings look to be a legitimate contender for the top of the Pacific Division and potentially beyond. Kings’ fans are finally seeing the rebuild come together in a team with all the elements for success this year and for years to come. 

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