Let’s look at the positives: the Los Angeles Kings had one of the best defenses in the NHL last season and made the playoffs. The bad? The team is full of dead-weight contracts that have obliterated their depth and they got easily bumped in 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 Sportsbook and Doughty is coming off an excellent 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 another deep playoff run?
Stanley Cup +1800
It seems almost like a distant memory, but LA hoisted the cup in the 2013-14 season. The team then followed that performance up 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 in a Stanley Cup series, but how the rest of the team fares is hard to predict. And heaven forbid the top players on the team hit a scoring slump in the playoffs because relying on the bottom-six forwards for offense is sure to doom LA. That’s not to say they can’t make a run based on phenomenal defense and a red-hot goalie in Quick.
Western Conference +750
The Western Conference is loaded with dangerous teams. The perennially contending Chicago Blackhawks still look like the class of the conference 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 for a middling 5-4-2 record against the Blackhawks, Blues and Kings last season. In fact, among those three 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 have never won a Pacific Division title. In fact, the only time the Kings ended the regular season atop their division was in 1990-91 when they topped the Smythe Division. It is very realistic that the Kings can end that drought this season – as they are co-faves with the Ducks – but they will need to avoid another crippling slump.
The Kings squandered a 10-point division lead last season to the Ducks after the team imploded to close out the year. LA was 30-16-3 entering the all-star break last season and then faltered to a pedestrian 18-18-3 for the remainder of the season.
The biggest reason for this collapse was their struggles within the division, as the Kings went just 10-7-0 against the Pacific after the all-star break compared with 8-4 before. And when you factor in that six of those wins after the break came against Calgary, Vancouver and Edmonton, you can 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 are not including the shortened 2012-13 season – the team has averaged 99 points per season. It is honestly hard to see this team regressing too much after posting 102 points last season, but a slight drop could be expected considering their ice-cold close to last season.
In order to surpass the 97.5-point mark, some younger players will likely need to provide added scoring. Goal scoring will especially be needed from the wings, as the only winger to finish with more than 40 points last season was Milan Lucic, who signed with Edmonton this offseason.
Odds as of October 4 at Sportsbook