Extreme makeover: Los Angeles Kings

Mike Richards should make Anze Kopitar a strong Art Ross Trophy candidate

Originally Published: July 26, 2011
By Neil Greenberg | Special to ESPN Insider
KopitarGeoff Burke/US PresswireAnze Kopitar could be a huge beneficiary of the Kings' roster changes.

Starting with the Philadelphia Flyers' bold trades just prior to the NHL draft, the league's landscape has undergone some significant changes this offseason. For the next five weeks, Insider contributor Neil Greenberg will examine, in detail, five of the biggest summer renovators -- the San Jose Sharks, the Minnesota Wild, the Los Angeles Kings, the Washington Capitals and the Flyers -- to see what we can expect from their remodeled rosters. The series continues with a look at the Kings.

General Manager Dean Lombardi decided after a second straight early postseason exit it was time to shake up the Kings' roster in an attempt to boost the offense beyond leading scorer Anze Kopitar.

The makeup of the forwards was completely different after a frantic 10-day span. Mike Richards and Simon Gagne were brought in to replace Ryan Smyth, Wayne Simmonds and Brayden Schenn.

The trade for Richards fulfilled Lombardi's desire to get a strong second line center to back up Kopitar.

"Obviously the thought of having him and Kopitar down the middle, that allows us, I think, essentially to match up to any team in the Western Conference," Lombardi said. "I think that was a big hole. So I think we've cleaned that up today."

This newfound strength down the middle should help Los Angeles contend for the Cup, but can it also turn Kopitar into an MVP candidate?

Neil Greenberg is ESPN Insider's NHL analytics expert. His columns have appeared on the Washington Post website, and he is a regular guest on Sirius XM NHL Radio.