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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
7 WORST: JEREMY ROENICK
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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