LA Kings: Three reasons team will and won’t make the playoffs

Mandatory Credit: Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports /
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LA Kings Alex Turcotte
(Photo by Kevin Light/Getty Images) /

LA Kings Young core isn’t ready

Drastic turnarounds from a bottom-feeder to a playoff team do happen in the NHL. One recent example is the Toronto Maple Leafs finishing in last place in the league with 69 points in 2015-16 before making the playoffs with 95 in the 2016-17 season.

An even more extreme example is the Colorado Avalanche, who in 2016-17 had just 48 points. It’s still the worst 82-game season any team’s had since the expansion Atlanta Thrashers had 39 points in the 1999-2000 season.

The next season, the Avalanche had 95 points and made the playoffs.

This may sound like I’m giving another reason why the Kings can make the playoffs, but there’s a big difference between this Kings team and those Maple Leafs and Avalanche teams. Those teams had great young cores in the NHL and ready to take a big step forward.

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The 2016-17 season marked the beginning of the Auston Matthews/Mitch Marner/William Nylander era in Toronto, and that trio of super talented young forwards led the Leafs to a 26-point improvement in the standings.

Meanwhile, as bad as the Avs were in 2016-17, they still had a talented young core in place. The next season they watched as Nathan MacKinnon, Gabriel Landeskog, and Mikko Rantanen all took huge steps forward, with MacKinnon even becoming one of the very best players in the league and finishing as the runner-up for the Hart Trophy.

As for the Kings, many of the players they are hoping will form the core of their next great team — Quinton Byfield, Alex Turcotte, Arthur Kaliyev, Samuel Fagemo — have never played in the NHL yet. Some of those players may get some action in the NHL this season, but they likely aren’t ready to lead the Kings to that kind of turnaround yet.