The Los Angeles Kings had a magical run through the 2012 postseason and captured the Stanley Cup for the first time in franchise history. And while they prepare to rejoice, celebrate and embrace this moment, us bettors are already looking ahead: can the Kings do it again?
The Kings are listed as 11/1 by NHL odds makers to repeat, and
the consensus right now is that they could have a dynasty in the making. Given
the amount of parity there has been in the NHL in recent years, that’s
unlikely, but let’s take a closer look at the Kings and see if they’ll have a
shot to repeat.
Similar to the Boston Bruins after they won the Stanley
Cup, the Kings hit the offseason with very minimal work to do. They don’t have
a lot of key unrestricted free agents and, given their salary cap situation,
they probably have the option to bring a number of them back.
Veterans Dustin Penner, Jarret Stoll and Colin Frasor are
all unrestricted. The Kings might consider bringing Penner back at a cheaper
price tag than his $4.25 million, but he’ll probably get more than that as a
free agent. He was largely a disappointment until the second half of this
season and playoffs, so they probably feel they can replace him.
Stoll is an excellent faceoff man, and he made $3.6
million last season. He’s still just 30 years old and is clearly a valuable
asset, so the Kings would be smart to bring him back as long as it’s around $4M a year.
Frasor is a plugger, who can be brought back or replaced; doesn't much matter either way. Lastly, the Kings will have to deal with Dwight King, but
he’s a restricted free agent, so he’s likely to be back.
As for the blue line, it’s entirely signed and should
The Kings do have one asset that they can move to help
upgrade the team and that’s backup goaltender Jonathan Bernier. Teams like the
Toronto Maple Leafs and Tampa Bay Lightning might be interested in the young
goalie, and the Kings might be enticed into getting a contributer for him.
The thing is, the Kings have over $15 million in cap space this offseason, so
they have plenty of flexibility to make the decisions they want.
The 2012-13 Season
Darryl Sutter will clearly return as the head coach of
the Kings; whatever buttons he pressed in the second half of this season,
they clearly worked. The lazy, sloppy, low-scoring Kings that underachieved
under Terry Murray were awesome under Sutter. There’s no question that this
unit should be more cohesive and confident next season, which likely means a
shot at the Presidents’ Trophy.
Goaltender Jonathan Quick is among the best – if not the
best – in the NHL. The blue line is only getting stronger. The offensive units
will get a full season with Jeff Carter and, considering they already have Mike
Richards, Anze Kopitar, Dustin Brown, Simon Gagne and Justin Williams, they
appear to be in great shape.
So what’s going to stop the Kings from winning the Cup
The NHL is so wide open nowadays that it almost seems
crazy to trust any futures right now. The Pittsburgh Penguins and Vancouver
Canucks are again among the favorites, but let me remind you that both teams
exited the playoffs in the first round. The St. Louis Blues and New York
Rangers came out of nowhere to shoot up to the top of their respective
conference standings while the reigning Cup champs, the Boston Bruins, meekly
left the playoffs after just three wins. The Washington Capitals were supposed
to be a wrecking ball crew, but they fell off the map, while the Florida Panthers
won their division and the New Jersey Devils won the Eastern Conference.
On top of that, the No. 8 seeded Los Angeles Kings not
only won the Stanley Cup but did so in such dominant fashion that reminisced of
the olden days of the dominant Edmonton Oilers.
The only thing stopping the Kings from repeating is
parity. Just as when watching the Super Bowl, we see a champ emerge and
think: “Who’s going to stop the Green Bay Packers over the next five years?”
and the answer is always parity. Walking around with a bigger bulls-eye,
dealing with more injuries and having to be a favorite compared to being an
underdog typically hampers the champs.
If the Kings can handle those and catch all the breaks
again, they can surely repeat. Otherwise, expect parity to present us with a
new Stanley Cup champion in 2012-13.
Pittsburgh Penguins 7/1
Los Angeles Kings 11/1
Chicago Blackhawks 12/1
Detroit Red Wings 12/1
New York Rangers 12/1
St. Louis Blues 12/1
Vancouver Canucks 12/1
Boston Bruins 14/1
Philadelphia Flyers 14/1
Nashville Predators 18/1
San Jose Sharks 22/1
Anaheim Ducks 25/1
Buffalo Sabres 25/1
Tampa Bay Lightning
Washington Capitals 25/1
New Jersey Devils 30/1
Florida Panthers 35/1
Toronto Maple Leafs 35/1
Colorado Avalanche 40/1
Dallas Stars 40/1
Ottawa Senators 40/1
Phoenix Coyotes 40/1
Winnipeg Jets 40/1
Calgary Flames 50/1
Carolina Hurricanes 50/1
Edmonton Oilers 60/1
Montreal Canadiens 60/1
Columbus Blue Jackets 75/1
Minnesota Wild 75/1
York Islanders 75/1