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Kings 2023-24 Over/Under: Can Danault Repeat a Career-Year?



Phil Danault

It’s time to continue with the 2023-24 expectations articles but with a slightly changed format.

Influenced by a series at ColoradoHockeyNow, I’m going to pick out a stat and determine whether the chosen Los Angeles Kings player will go over, or under that stat.

Kicking things off is going to be Phil Danault, who’s coming off a career-high in points last season.

Phil Danault Points in 2023-24 54.5:

Setting the bar at Danault’s number for last season, the line will be 54.5 here.

The 2022-23 season was a weird one for Danault.

He scored nine fewer goals than he did in his first season but set a career-high in points with 54. According to analytics, he was better defensively but was a -8. And he shattered his previous career-high of four power-play points, notching 20 last season.

His 5v5 production took a dip last season too, posting 34 even strength points compared to 47 in 2021-22.

He then added five points in six games and a +1 rating during the playoffs, all while matching up with Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl.

The drop off in 5v5 production was evident when watching him and led some fans to suggest he regressed a bit from his debut campaign.

But it isn’t fair to criticize the lower even-strength totals without also acknowledging the change in usage he saw.

Last season, he went back to being more of the go-to shutdown center he’s been for the majority of his career.

During his first season, Anze Kopitar took the majority of defensive zone faceoffs — giving Danault a more offensive role — but that flipped last year.

Danault saw the lowest percentage of offensive zone starts amongst Kings forwards, and only Quinton Byfield seeing a lower percentage of offensive zone faceoffs. I’d expect that more defensive usage to continue into next season too after the addition of Pierre-Luc Dubois.

With Danault moving into more of a third-line center role, he might be used as a traditional shut-down center, freeing the Kopitar and Dubois lines up to post big offensive numbers.

My Prediction: I’m Taking the Under:

With Dubois coming in and likely taking the easier matchups compared to Danault, I expect the latter to see a dip in his point totals.

Danault’s newfound power-play prowess will keep his totals from falling too far and I’ll predict him at 43 points next season — 15 goals and 28 assists.

If his usage is different than what I’m predicting, this projection changes, but I’d still take the under.

He set a career-high last year and I don’t see him surpassing it.

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