AXS Sports is in the process of featuring the top seven Los Angeles Kings players all-time at every position and will focus on centers first. There is no doubt who number one on the list is: Wayne Gretzky. He is not only the best center in Los Angeles Kings history but he is also the best player in hockey history. Here is a list of our other top picks for LA Kings centers:
7. Mike Richards
Acquired by the Kings from the Philadelphia Flyers in 2011, Richards would go on to spend the next four seasons with the Kings until 2015. During his time in southern California, Richards won two Stanley Cups with Los Angeles in 2012 and 2014. Richards excelled in penalty killing situations, as he led the NHL with four shorthanded goals during the 2011-12 season. He also had an excellent faceoff percentage of 53.9% during the 2013-14 season.
6. Jeff Carter
Like Mike Richards, Carter won two Stanley Cups with the Kings in 2012 and 2014, and played with Richards with the Flyers before coming to Los Angeles in 2012. However, there is no doubt that Carter had more offensive skill in his game. In 2016-17, Carter led the Kings in scoring with 32 goals and 66 points. He has also be known for timely goals. Of his 156 career goals with the Kings, 36 of them have been game-winning goals. Carter also led the NHL with eight game-winning goals during the 2012-13 NHL regular season. An all-star in 2017, Carter has 156 goals and 148 assists for 304 points in 404 NHL regular season career games with Los Angeles.
5. Butch Goring
Initially drafted by the Kings in the fifth round of the 1969 National Hockey League Amateur Draft, Goring played the next 11 seasons with the Kings from 1969 to 1980. In 736 games, Goring had 275 goals and 384 assists for 659 points. Known for his discipline, Goring won the Lady Byng and Bill Masterton Trophy in 1978, after having only two penalty minutes throughout the entire season. In 1978-79, Goring set a career high in points with 87. Goring represented the Kings at the 1980 NHL All-Star Game right before he got traded to the New York Islanders, where he would win four consecutive Stanley Cups from 1980 to 1983.
4. Bernie Nicholls
Selected by the Kings in the fourth round of the 1980 NHL Entry Draft, Nicholls played nine seasons with the Kings from 1981 to 1990. In 602 games, Nicholls had 327 goals and 431 assists for 758 points. In 1988-89, Nicholls had a magical season, as he became only the fifth player in NHL history to record 150 points (70 goals and 80 assists). He joined Wayne Gretzky, Mario Lemieux, Steve Yzerman and Phil Esposito on a very distinguished list. Nicholls's 70 goals that season was a Kings franchise record. On Dec. 1, 1988, Nicholls also set the Kings record for most points in a game with eight as he had two goals and six assists in a 9-3 win over the Toronto Maple Leafs. He also represented the Kings at the 1984 and 1989 NHL All-Star Game.
3. Anze Kopitar
The first round pick, 11th overall in the 2005 NHL Entry Draft, Kopitar has currently played 922 NHL regular season games with the Kings since his rookie season of 2006. He has 290 goals, 538 assists for 828 points, two Stanley Cups, two Selke Trophies and one Lady Byng Trophy. Kopitar, who is also the best Slovenian to ever play in the NHL, has represented the Kings at four NHL All-Star Games.
2. Marcel Dionne
Acquired by the Kings from the Detroit Red Wings as a free agent in 1975, Dionne played 12 seasons with the Kings from 1975 to 1987. In 921 games, he had 550 goals and 757 assists for 1307 points. Dionne is currently the Kings all-time leader in assists and points. In 1980, Dionne became the first Kings player to win the Art Ross Trophy as he was the co-leader in points that season with 137. Dionne was tied with future Kings star Wayne Gretzky. However, Dionne received the award because he had two more goals than the Great One. Known for his shot, Dionne led the NHL in shots on goal four times and reached 100 points seven times with the Kings. A seven-time all-star with the Kings, Dionne also won the Lady Byng Trophy with the Kings in 1977 and Lester B.Pearson Award in 1979 and 1980.
1. Wayne Gretzky
Acquired by the Kings from the Edmonton Oilers in 1988, in the most historic trade in hockey history, Gretzky played eight seasons for the Kings from 1988 to 1996. In his first four seasons with the Kings, Gretzky led the NHL in assists including a Kings franchise record 122 during the 1990-91 NHL season. During his time with the Kings, Gretzky set the Kings franchise record for most points in a season (168) in 1988-89. He also won three Art Ross Trophies, three Lady Byng Trophies and the 1989 Hart Trophy with the Kings. Gretzky also holds the Kings records for most playoff assists all-time (65) and playoff points all-time (94). He was instrumental in leading the Kings to their first Stanley Cup Final in franchise history in 1993, where the Kings lost to the Montreal Canadiens.