Let us look at the advantages: the Los Angeles Kings had among the greatest defenses in the NHL last year and made the playoffs. The bad? The team is filled with dead-weight contracts that have obliterated their thickness and they got easily bumped from the first round of the playoffs.
Despite the negatives, you will be hard-pressed to find a better core nucleus on a team with Anze Kopitar, Drew Doughty and Jonathan Quick. Kopitar is the reigning Selke Trophy winner and Doughty is coming from a great 2015-16 season that saw him win the Norris Trophy.
The question remains: can the Kings’ low-scoring, defensive-minded play hide their issues with depth and lead them to the next deep playoff series?
Stanley Cup +1800
It seems almost like a distant memory, but LA hoisted the cup at the 2013-14 season. The group then followed up that performance by not making the playoffs the following season and a miserable first-round ousting the year after.
The core of the Kings is battle-tested and more than able to hold its own at a Stanley Cup series, however, how the rest of the group fares is difficult to predict. And heaven forbid the very best players on the group struck a scoring slump at the playoffs since relying upon the bottom-six forwards for crime is guaranteed to doom LA.. That is not to say they can’t create a run based on incredible defense and a red-hot goalie in Quick.
Western Conference +750
The Conference is filled with teams. The perennially contending Chicago Blackhawks still look like the class of the summit but there are still emerging powerhouses in St. Louis and Anaheim. In order for the Kings to win the Western Conference for the third time in six seasons, they will need to be able to beat those three teams.
The Kings combined to get a middling 5-4-2 record from the Blackhawks, Blues and Kings last season. In fact, one of those 3 teams, LA’s only winning record was against the Blackhawks.
Pacific Division +225
Even though the Kings have won two Stanley Cups in the past five seasons, they’ve never won a Pacific Division title. In reality, the only time the Kings finished the regular season atop their division was in 1990-91 when they awakened the Smythe Division. It is quite sensible that the Kings could end that drought this season — since they’re co-faves together with the Ducks — but they will need to prevent another crippling slump.
The Kings wasted a 10-point division lead last season to the Ducks following the group imploded to close the year out. LA was 30-16-3 entering the all-star break last season and then faltered into a pedestrian 18-18-3 to the rest of the season.
The biggest cause of this collapse was their struggles within the branch, as the Kings went just 10-7-0 against the Pacific after the all-star fracture compared with 8-4 before. And when you factor in that six of these wins following the break came against Calgary, Vancouver and Edmonton, you’ll be justifiably worried entering this season.
Point Total OVER/UNDER 97.5
In Darryl Sutter’s three full seasons as head coach of the Kings — we aren’t including the shortened 2012-13 season — that the group has averaged 99 points each season. It is honestly hard to see that this team regressing too much after posting 102 points last year, however a small drop may be expected contemplating their Travels near last season.
In order to transcend the 97.5-point mark, a few younger players will probably need to provide added scoring. Goal scoring will especially be required from the wings, as the only winger to finish with more than 40 points every year was Milan Lucic, who signed with Edmonton this offseason.
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