Season Preview: Three questions with Kings blog Jewels from the Crown

We’re previewing the season by asking the experts - other SB Nation blogs!

The school year is starting, the World Cup of Hockey exhibition is happening, and it’s starting to finally feel like we’re gonna make it to the next hockey season. At this stage, we’re down to three more franchises to preview: the California trio. To kick things off, here’s writer Chris_J from Jewels from the Crown to tell us about the Los Angeles Kings.

1. The biggest loss of the offseason for the Kings was Milan  Lucic to free agency. How do you see the Kings' top six shaping up for  this season? Do you think they will generate enough offence?

The top six will most likely feature some combination of Anze Kopitar, Marian Gaborik, Tanner Pearson, Jeff Carter and Tyler Toffoli. The sixth spot is up for contention, and we could see Dwight King, Teddy Purcell,  or Dustin Brown slot in at various times. As for offense, we pretty  much always believe there won't be enough on this Kings squad. The loss of Lucic hurts offensively, but when you consider what Dwight King did in  the same spot, you see it's pretty great to play with Jeff Carter and Tyler Toffoli.

2.  The Kings have possibly the best top pairing in the league, but their  lack of defensive depth was exposed in the playoffs, with Rob Scuderi  having to play. How do you think the crew looks this year? How much do  you think Scuderi will play?

One of the problems is that the Kings don't actually pair  their top two defensemen together right now. I think we're divided here  at Jewels as to whether that's a bad thing, but they've consistently put  Jake Muzzin with Alec Martinez in a more defensive role when Muzzin has  established himself as the best offensive d man on the team.

The top 4 is some combination of Drew Doughty, Brayden  McNabb, Muzzin, and Martinez. McNabb is probably better suited to the  second pair, but Sutter has outright said he doesn't want to split  Muzzin and Martinez.

The bottom pairing will see a lot of contention. The Kings  were prepared to buy out Matt Greene to keep Lucic, and his lost season  due to injury last year casts a lot of doubt on his future. Tom Gilbert  is definitely on the down swing but is a capable bottom pair guy. Zach  Trotman didn't see enough of a shot in Boston in my opinion, and I think  he could be a bottom pair guy as well.

Some people in the Kings blogosphere have suggested Scuderi  will be waived. I think Sutter likes him too much for that, but I  think/hope he'll be a 7th guy at best. Derek Forbort and Kevin Gravel  are NHL ready and I would like to see at least one of them get an  extended shot at the Kings.

3. Opinions this season are  split on the Kings, from Micah McCurdy seeing them running away with the  West to Carolyn Wilke seeing them squeaking into the playoffs and  losing in the first round. What do you expect from them this cmoing  season?

I expect them to finish in the top three of the Pacific, but I don't expect them to take the division. The Sharks will remain good and be serious contenders for the division. I think Edmonton finally has the chance to be decent as well. The Kings may find themselves in need of a mid-season move to push them over the edge into being a serious contender.

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