The Kings had an impressive follow up to their Stanley Cup win in 2012. They made it all the way to the Western Conference finals before being beat by the Chicago Blackhawks who would go on to win it all. The Kings first series against the St. Louis Blues was one of the highlights of the playoffs. LA's bruising style of play was put on showcase as every St. Louis player had to pay a price to get into the Kings offensive zone. Scoring has been an issue for the Kings though who play a defense first kind of game. They've been able to do just enough and score crucial goals but that style of play has elevated them to an elite team in the NHL. There were just a few moves made by the Kings this off season as they try to make yet another deep run into the playoffs.
The Kings traded highly touted backup goaltender Jonathan Bernier to the Maple Leafs for Ben Scrivens and Matt Frattin along with two second round picks. Bernier might have been one of the most beloved back up goalies by any fanbase so Scrivens could have a tough time in LA if things go sour. This was a good trade for the Kings though. They have a young elite goaltender in Jonathan Quick and they acquired a lot for an unproven backup goaltender. I like the trade but we will see how the Kings fans feel about it as the season unfolds. Matt Frattin put up ten points in ten games before going down with a knee injury last season. Frattin is a winger that can play both sides and should be a top six player for the Kings.
On offense the Kings return one of the NHL's best centers in Anze Kopitar who had 42 points in 47 games last season. Kopitar is coming into his prime this season at the age of 26 and he is on track for another impressive season. Jeff Carter, Mike Richards, Dustin Brown, and Justin Williams will return to the lineup and fill out the top five of this line up. Frattin is currently slated to play left wing on the second line. Young Tyler Toffoli should get some votes for the Calder Trophy this season. Toffoli had 11 points in 22 NHL games including the playoffs. The Kings will roll four lines throughout the season and there are few teams which can hang with the depth that the Kings have at the forward position.
The Kings defense is one of the best in the NHL. They were ranked seventh last season and even though they lost Rob Scuderi to free angency, they should have no problem remaining a top ten defense. Drew Doughty will no doubt lead the charge as the number one defenseman on the Kings. The youthful Slava Voynov will also be on the top end of the defensive unit. He was dominate in the playoffs, posting 13 points in 18 games. Another young star is Jake Muzzin who is currently sitting 6th on the Kings depth chart but he has a good amount of potential. Robyn Regehr provides veteran depth to the defensive unit. LA has a ton of depth when it comes to defense and they could easily be a better defensive team than they were last season.
Jonanthan Quick will take his spot between the pipes. Quick was amazing in the playoffs after having a somewhat off regular season. Quick had just a .902 SV% during the regular season but he turned it on for the playoffs. In the post season Quick had a .934 SV% and a 1.86 GAA. The Kings will only be as good as Quick is and we expect him to have a much better regular season than he did last year.
The Kings are an elite team. They are in a tough Pacific Division with the Ducks, Sharks, Canucks, and Oilers. Los Angeles definitely has the best defense and goaltending in the Pacific. We think they will be the third best team in the Western Conference.
Odds to win Stanley Cup: 12/1