Since the Los Angeles Kings entered the NHL as one of six new expansion teams in June 1967, they've been fairly successful with an incredible collection of hockey greats that made hockey relevant to this day. Legends such as Wayne Gretzky, Marcel Dionne, Rogie Vachon, Luc Robitaille, and Rob Blake made their 20th-century success possible. The Great One led the 1992-93 Kings to the Cup Final, getting within three more wins of claiming Lord Stanley, but they fell to the Canadiens in five games.
The Kings suffered through two decades of mediocrity and playoff disappointment until 2012, when they captured a Stanley Cup versus the Devils in six games. Two years later, they reached the Finals once again, and a sudden-death overtime goal from Kings defenseman Alec Martinez beat the Rangers and secured L.A.'s second Cup in team history. Their current crop of stars like defenseman Drew Doughty, goaltender Jonathan Quick, forwards Dustin Brown and Anze Kopitar contributed to the 2012 and '14 Stanley Cup teams with grit and determination. But the Kings had their share of bad players who either underperformed or couldn't live up to the hype. Now let's count down the eight best and worst Kings players since the 2000-01 season.
16 BEST: ZIGGY PALFFY
Ziggy Palffy might go down as one of the NHL's most underrated players in its history. Palffy broke out in 1995-96, collecting 87 points for the NY Islanders then scored 48 goals along with 90 points the following season. His goal-scoring abilities caught the attention of Kings management, as they traded for him and Bryan Smolinski on June 20, 1999. They placed him on a line with Kings great Luc Robitaille and Josef Stumpel, which had incredible chemistry. Palffy authored two 80-point campaigns in 2000-01 and 2002-03, then instantly became a fan favourite. Palffy's last season in L.A. was nothing close to the offensive output he had before, as he would join the Penguins for the 2005-06 season. Despite having rookie phenom Sidney Crosby as a teammate, Palffy didn't make a big impact on a team that failed to make the playoffs. He left the NHL entirely because of a shoulder injury, then played a few more seasons in Slovakia before calling it quits in 2013.
15 WORST: JORDAN NOLAN
The son of former Sabres head coach Ted Nolan, Jordan Nolan is the eighth-worst Kings player on the countdown. The younger Nolan seemed destined for a solid career with the team that drafted him in the seventh round of the '09 draft. He played a key role on the Kings' fourth line when they captured the 2012 Stanley Cup championship with a goal and an assist in 20 playoff games, but his checking and net-front presence also made him a useful depth player. However, Nolan's regular season stats are a different story.
Although Nolan has won two Stanley Cups, he's recorded a 10 point season only once in his 288-game career with a minus-12 rating and 264 penalty minutes. Nolan's point-production remains stagnant so far in 2016-17, recording just eight points. It's safe to say he's failed to live up to the hype.
14 BEST: WILLIE MITCHELL
An underrated defenseman for years in Minnesota, Dallas, Vancouver, and Los Angeles, Willie Mitchell experienced his best success with the Kings. Mitchell had a solid three-season run in L.A. with his frame and steady play on the back end, while mentoring teammates Drew Doughty and Slava Voynov. Mitchell's 2011-12 season proved to be his best offensively, recording 24 points (5 G, 19 A) with a plus-20 rating. He played an instrumental role on the Kings blue line during their two playoff runs to the Stanley Cup. The Kings steamrolled through the 2012 playoffs, losing only four of their 20 games en route to their first championship. Mitchell received the Cup first from then-team captain Dustin Brown.
Then in Game 2 of the 2014 Cup Final, Mitchell recorded a power-play goal and assisted on Dustin Brown's double overtime winner on Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist. The Kings went on to win their second Cup in five games, as Mitchell added a second championship on his resume. He went on to play two more seasons with the Panthers until a concussion signaled the end of his 907-game career.
13 WORST: MICHAL HANDZUS
Hockey fans may remember Michal Handzus for helping the Blackhawks win a Stanley Cup in 2013 with 11 playoff points. But fans may forget he debuted with the St. Louis Blues almost two decades ago, then broke out offensively with 58 points for the 2003-04 Flyers.
However, his point totals sharply declined after a lockout that wiped out the '04-'05 season. Handzus played eight games for Chicago during '06-'07, then signed a four-year deal with L.A. that began in the '07-'08 season. He went on to record just 21 points and had a minus-21 rating during his first season as a King, and failed to reach the 50-point plateau the next three seasons. He played two more seasons out in San Jose and returned for a second stint with the 'Hawks to claim Lord Stanley's mug. Today, Handzus is still playing professionally for a Slokavian team. If only Handzus panned out with the Kings; who knows what kind of damage he would have done on their Cup-winning teams?
12 BEST: JUSTIN WILLIAMS
Justin Williams claims his spot as the sixth-best Kings player for not only winning two Stanley Cups and a Conn Smythe Trophy in L.A., but for his uncanny ability to shine in Game 7s. In 2009, Williams joined the Kings via trade from Carolina with a Stanley Cup victory on his resume, helping the '06 Hurricanes beat the Oilers in seven games.
The Coburg, Ontario product became a two-time 20-goal scorer for the franchise and helped them win their first Cup with 15 playoff points, but his remarkable performance in the 2014 postseason cemented his legacy as a clutch playoff performer. Williams led the way with nine goals and 16 assists, including a Game 1 overtime tally in the Cup Final to beat the Rangers. He took home his third Stanley Cup title and the first Conn Smythe of his career. Williams left the Kings through free agency following the 2014-15 season to join the Capitals, but the contributions he made to their Cup wins won't soon be forgotten.
11 WORST: MIKE RICHARDS
Mike Richards may have left a good impression on fans for becoming one of the league's grittiest players, but his ugly 2015 departure from L.A. began an unlikely fall from grace. Having won a Memorial Cup and a Calder Cup, the Kenora, Ontario native reached new heights with the Flyers by donning the "C', leading them to the 2010 Cup Final before Jonathan Toews and the Blackhawks eliminated them in six games. Earlier that year, he helped Canada win an Olympic Gold Medal on home soil.
But in 2011, the Flyers traded their captain to the L.A. Kings. As Richards moved to the West Coast, he struggled to boost his offensive production which regressed from 60 points to between 40 and 45 throughout his four-year Kings tenure. In fact, the team demoted their depth forward to the AHL during their ill-fated 2014-15 season. The Kings ended his tumultuous stint by terminating a 12-year, $69 million contract he signed with Philly for illegally possessing oxycodone in June 2015. His untimely arrest for possession of painkillers overshadowed his standout career, even though he played 39 games last year for the Caps and has yet to play a game this season.
10 BEST: DUSTIN BROWN
A native of Ithaca, New York, Dustin Brown made a tremendous impact on the Kings for in recent years. Before the '08-'09 season, the franchise appointed him as the first American-born captain in its history. Brown emerged as an effective two-way player with a knack for bodychecking and goal-scoring. He had five straight 20-goal seasons and led his team in hits for a decade.
Brown might be most remembered for throwing a check to the Canucks' Henrik Sedin in the 2012 playoffs that gave his team momentum, dispatching their division rivals in five games. He led the Kings to their first Stanley Cup triumph five years ago and another title in 2013-14, scoring an overtime goal against Henrik Lundqvist in the Cup Final. The Kings stripped Brown of the captaincy last June and he ultimately disagreed with their decision, but who could blame him? He provided solid leadership and stability when the Kings blossomed into a legitimate Cup contender under coach Darryl Sutter. Brown is still under contract with the Kings, although he's recorded a disappointing 32 points this season.
9 WORST: MARIAN GABORIK
It might be hard to believe Marian Gaborik is the fifth-worst King on this list. Gaborik made his debut with the Minnesota Wild, then became an offensive stud for the New York Rangers. Gaborik notched a career-high 86 points for the '09-'10 Rangers that barely missed the playoffs. New York dealt him to the Blue Jackets in 2013 but scored 22 points throughout his brief tenure with the team. Columbus shipped Gaborik to the Kings for their 2014 playoff run, which might've reminded Kings fans of a trade they made for Jeff Carter two years before.
Since the Kings acquired the Slovakian-born winger from Columbus three years ago, Gaborik's 14 goals and eight helpers in the 2014 playoffs led the Kings to a second Cup in three seasons, then signed a seven-year contract with L.A. worth over $34 million until 2020-21. However, his point totals have declined due to injury and reduced ice time, playing less than 15 minutes per game the last two years. Gaborik has played all 82 regular season games just once in his career, and an injury he sustained at last year's World Cup of Hockey hindered any chance of a productive '16-'17 season.
8 BEST: JEFF CARTER
Jeff Carter has been an offensive force for the Kings since they traded for him back in February 2012. The London, Ontario product began his career with the Philadelphia Flyers in the midst of the post-lockout era, scoring 42 points as a rookie. Carter would develop into a consistent goal scorer and point producer from 2007-08 to '10-'11. He recorded over 50 points over that span, including a whopping 84 points for the '08-'09 Flyers. The Flyers traded their star player to the Blue Jackets in June 2011. His forgettable tenure in Columbus lasted 39 games, so they dealt him to the Kings for defenseman Jack Johnson during the 2011-12 campaign.
Carter made a good impression on the Kings' 2012 run to a Stanley Cup title with eight playoff goals, including an overtime tally against the Devils in the Final. Carter has won two Cups for the Kings and continues to thrive offensively, scoring 20 goals for five straight seasons. He's put 31 pucks in the back of the net this season, and it appears the Kings won that trade handily.
7 WORST: JEREMY ROENICK
One of the NHL's most outspoken and polarizing players in recent memory, "J.R." lands on this particular list for his forgettable and brief tenure for the Kings. The American-born forward became an offensive star with the Blackhawks, Coyotes, and Flyers. In fact, he was a member of Team USA's Olympic hockey teams in '98 and '02. The Flyers decided to trade Roenick to L.A. following the '04-'05 lockout. What the team got in return wasn't what they expected from a guy who authored three 100-point seasons in Chicago. He managed to score nine goals and 13 helpers for an underwhelming 22 points. The reasons why Roenick started to unravel in L.A. include his complaints about unsharpened skates, a lack of dedication, professionalism, and overall competitiveness from a veteran player. Roenick played three more seasons with the Coyotes and Sharks, then retired from the NHL in 2009 following a 1,363 game career. He now serves as a hockey analyst for the NHL on NBC.
6 BEST: DREW DOUGHTY
There isn't a better defenseman on the Kings roster today than Drew Doughty. A native of London, Ontario, he came to the City of Angels with so much promise as their 2008 first-round draft choice. Doughty had a decent rookie year with 27 points, but he's since grown into an elite defenseman who can shut down top players and elevate his offensive game. He recorded an astounding 59 points during his second season, where he was nominated for the Norris Trophy as the league's best defenseman.
Doughty helped the Kings capture the 2012 Stanley Cup championship with a 16 point effort in the playoffs, then followed it up with 18 playoff points for the 2013-14 Kings, who went on to win their second Cup against the Rangers. The two-time Cup winner would claim his first Norris at the 2016 NHL Awards over Senators defenseman Erik Karlsson, scoring 14 goals and 37 helpers last season.
5 WORST: JARRET STOLL
Jarret Stoll put himself on the hockey map as a member of the underdog Edmonton Oilers who advanced to the '06 Stanley Cup Final versus the Hurricanes. After Edmonton fell short in their quest to win it all that year, Stoll remained with the Oilers until they traded him and defenseman Matt Greene to the Kings in June 2008. Stoll became an effective two-way center who provided veteran leadership for an organization hungry for success, helping the Kings win two Stanley Cups in 2012 and '14. Stoll's offensive production during his seven-year stint in L.A. was pretty disappointing for a guy who once collected 68 points for the Oilers. His lack of consistency and average play in the offensive zone caused him to record less than 20 goals in six of his seven seasons with the Kings. He recorded a career-worst 17 points in 2014-15.
The Kings decided not to re-sign Stoll following his arrest for cocaine possession in Las Vegas until he joined the Rangers and Wild last season. He currently remains as a free agent, but got engaged to Fox Sports reporter and Dancing With The Stars host Erin Andrews.
4 BEST: ANZE KOPITAR
Anze Kopitar rightfully takes his spot as the second-best L.A. Kings player on the countdown for the tremendous impact he made on their franchise.
He became the first Slovenian-born player to play in the NHL after the Kings selected him 11th overall in a memorable '05 draft, which had the likes of Sidney Crosby and Carey Price. A dynamic two-way player, Kopitar has shined as an elite player with his creativity, soft hands, and solid defensive play. Since making his Kings debut on October 6, 2006, Kopitar has been an offensive force as their leading scorer for nine straight seasons, including a career-best 81 points to wrap up the 2009-10 season. Kopitar played a crucial role in L.A.'s two Stanley Cup victories. He collected 20 points throughout the 2012 playoffs, and had 26 points two years later. The veteran forward added the Selke and Lady Byng trophies to his resume last season.
The Kings announced that Kopitar would replace Dustin Brown as team captain last summer, after spending his previous eight seasons as an alternate. However, he's experienced a rough 2016-17 season with just 46 points in 68 games. Despite his struggles this year, Kopitar is still in his prime and that's a good thing.
3 WORST: SEAN AVERY
Sean Avery was the type of player you loved to hate. He could get into the skin of his opponents and drop the gloves on a regular basis. Some people might forget that Avery played a few seasons for the Kings because of his memorable time with the Rangers, but he collected over 200 penalty minutes twice despite recording 39 points once in his four-year stint with Los Angeles. Avery made a not-so positive impact off the ice with the Kings, making offensive comments towards French-Canadian players following a hit by Denis Gauthier on then-Kings teammate Jeremy Roenick. Then Avery voiced his displeasure towards league disciplinarian Colin Campbell over a $1,000 fine he received for diving a second time in the '05-'06 season. Campbell fined him another $1,000 for the comments.
The Kings had enough of Avery's shenanigans, trading him to the New York Rangers in February 2007. The brash enforcer went on to play six more seasons with New York and Dallas where he infamously commented on ex-girlfriend Elisha Cuthbert and earned a suspension, then retired from hockey in 2012. Avery's had a strange post-playing career, working as a model, fashion consultant, interning for Vogue magazine, and competed on Dancing With The Stars in 2014.
2 BEST: JONATHAN QUICK
The Kings crease may never be the same again because of Jonathan Quick, who takes his place as the best player of the century. Born in Milford, Connecticut, Quick emerged as L.A.'s rookie netminder with four shutouts and 21 wins during the '08-'09 season. Quick would take his game to a whole new level in the 2012 Cup Playoffs. Armed with aggressive play and outstanding post-to-post movement, Quick sported a .946 save percentage, a 1.41 GAA and won 16 playoff games en route to the Kings' first Stanley Cup victory over New Jersey. He went on to earn the Conn Smythe Trophy for his superb effort that playoff year.
Quick helped the 2013-14 Kings win their second Cup and also added the William Jennings Trophy to his remarkable resume. Quick set team records for Kings' goalies, making 71 starts in 2009-10 and winning 40 games last season while posting a career-best 1.95 GAA in 2011-12. Unfortunately, Quick hasn't played much this season as a groin injury he sustained during the Kings' home opener limited him to 11 games. He'd be replaced by netminders Peter Budaj and Jeff Zatkoff until they dealt Budaj to the Lightning for Ben Bishop. Quick has 257 career wins to his credit.
1 WORST: DUSTIN PENNER
When you look back on the career Dustin Penner had, what comes to mind is his playoff heroics for the 2006-07 Ducks, his overtime goal versus the Coyotes that sent L.A. to the 2012 Cup Final, and for helping two Southern California-based teams win the Stanley Cup. Penner came into the league as an undrafted player who played one year of college hockey at the University of Maine, then broke out as a rookie for the '05-'06 Mighty Ducks. The 6'4 winger had an outstanding second year in Anaheim, capped off by a Stanley Cup victory.
Penner went on to sign a five-year deal worth millions with the Edmonton Oilers, but struggled to click offensively despite a 63-point effort in 2009-10. Then he suffered through a down year with 39 points in 62 games until the Oilers traded him to L.A. during the 2011 trade deadline.
Penner really struggled to find the scoresheet with the Kings at times, recording 37 points in 117 regular season games. Despite helping the Kings to a Stanley Cup in 2012, Penner's bizarre injury from eating pancakes is likely what Kings fans will remember him for. He split the 2013-14 season with the Ducks and Capitals, and it seems unlikely he will return to the NHL anytime soon.