The Los Angeles Kings made a massive trade this off-season, bringing in Pierre-Luc Dubois from the Winnipeg Jets in hopes of playing later into the postseason.
Although things look good on paper, the games must be played.
The Kings go into the 2023-2024 NHL season looking to get past the second round of the playoffs, something they did not do last season, thanks to the Edmonton Oilers.
With some additions to the Kings’ roster, are they now in a position to eliminate those same Oilers next season?
We look at the three biggest questions surrounding the Los Angeles Kings heading into the 2023/2024 NHL season.
Will Copley Pheonix Repeat Magic?
Kings goaltender Pheonix Copley took the NHL by storm last season, emerging as one of the top goaltenders in the entire league in the second half. Without playing a single minute in the playoffs, Copley is coming in determined to show that last season was not a fluke and he can lead this team in the playoffs.
Copley performed well above expectations last season after his recall from the Kings’ AHL affiliate, the Ontario Reign. Copley posted a record of 24-6-3 with a .903 save percentage and a GAA of 2.83. As mentioned above, Copley did not play a single minute as head coach Todd McLellan put those duties in the hands of Joonas Korpisalo. Copley is returning with a chip on his shoulders, knowing he can play in this league and should have played in the playoffs.
With the defense now stronger and another year of defenseman Vladislav Gavrikov, Copley should have another outstanding season and finally get those playoff starts he missed last season. Copley did sign a one-year contract extension for this season and, with another strong performance this season, could be in line for a lengthy contract extension.
How Will Pierre-Luc Dubois Fare in the First Season in Los Angeles?
Center Pierre-Luc Dubois was acquired from the Winnipeg Jets for forwards Gabe Vilardi, Alex Iafallo, and prospect Rasmus Kupari. A lot of expectations from Dubois this season, as most are centering those expectations around his attitude. It has been said that he constantly wanted out of his previous teams but seemed to want to play in Los Angeles as he signed a huge eight-year, $68 million deal this off-season.
A big, physical center, Dubois has all the makings of a player that can lead the Kings to another Stanley Cup.
Dubois most likely centers the second line behind captain Anze Kopitar and ahead of two-way center Philip Danault. Dubois has an excellent two-way game that has been better as of late. The Kings needed size and more offense up front and got both in the Dubois trade. He will also be a force on the power play, something the Kings also needed help with last season. If paired with the right pieces, Dubois could set career highs offensively this season.
How Many Games Does Brandt Clarke Get This Season?
Los Angeles Kings defense prospect Brandt Clarke cannot wait until he gets a permanent roster spot with the Kings blueline. Through juniors with the OHL Barrie Colts to the AHL Ontario reign, Clarke has proven the next step is in Los Angeles, as he has nothing left to prove. With the Kings trading Sean Durzi and Sean Walker, a slot is open on the defense.
The question with Clarke is, does he make enough of an impact on this training camp to earn a spot full-time on the blue line?
Clarke made his NHL debut last season, playing in nine games with two assists but looking good on NHL ice. He is still incredibly young but has so much talent and offense from the Blueline that the Kings can use.
The Kings will be patient with him, but he should get many more games this season in the NHL, maybe even play the entire year in Los Angeles.
Photo: Zach Dooley/LA Kings Insider