Los Angeles Kings: 4 Biggest Issues Facing Stanley Cup Champs in Offseason
The Los Angeles Kings are the 2012 Stanley Cup champions.
The roster came together and started clicking just at the right time. These questions remain, though: Is this a team that can repeat? Do they have the capability to win it all again?
Personally, I think the Kings do have the capabilities to repeat, or at least be a team that constantly contends. However, they face several big challenges in the offseason.
The resolution to some of these challenges and issues could have a major impact on the future of the team and the quality of the team.
So just what are they?
Re-Signing Jonathan Quick
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The most important thing on the mind of Dean Lombardi this offseason should be re-signing Conn Smythe winner Jonathan Quick.
Quick is under contract for the 2012-2013 season, but will hit the open market as an unrestricted free agent (UFA) come the end of next year. He currently has a salary of $1.8 million per season.
The 26-year-old is very deserving of a raise given his performance over the course of the last three seasons.
Some have hinted at Quick possibly being valued somewhere in the range of Pekka Rinne or Henrik Lundqvist-like numbers (seven years at $7 million per, six years at $6.8 million per, respectively).
I don't think it's out of the question, but Lombardi can be a bit of a wild card in his contract negotiations. At the end of the day, though, this will, and should be, the No. 1 thing on the agenda.
Hopefully, the team can sign him this offseason so he can focus on hockey and not contract negotiations all of next year.
The Future of Jonathan Bernier
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Maybe it's an elephant in the room, but the former first-rounder, 23-year-old Jonathan Bernier, has a bit of an uncertain future with the Los Angeles Kings.
His situation directly correlates to the outcome of Quick's contract negotiations.
Bernier is a very talented and still very young goaltender. However, if Quick is locked up long-term, the Kings would be doing the Laval, Quebec native a real disservice.
Bernier's contract is also up after next season, and he is capable of being a starter on several other teams. The need for goaltending is also quite high right now.
The market value of Bernier will ultimately dictate the future of the netminder this offseason. If the Kings can get good return for him, they have two AHL All-Star goaltenders waiting in the minors in Jeff Zatkoff and Martin Jones.
What Do You Do with Penner, Fraser and Stoll?
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Two of these guys, Dustin Penner and Jarret Stoll, had regular seasons that they probably want to forget. Each had their worst season since their rookie years.
It's hard to get lower than what they did last season.
However, when the playoffs rolled around, all of a sudden, these guys were money. They found and embraced the roles they were given under Darryl Sutter, and everyone benefited greatly.
So do we put the past behind us and offer them maybe a little less money to stay with a contender and keep this team together?
Hard to say. The Kings have several able-bodied and younger replacements waiting in the wings. They could also greatly use the money freed up from their contracts for other endeavors.
Both Dwight King and Trevor Lewis showed incredible potential in the postseason as offensive talents that could replace the two veterans.
Colin Fraser also suffers from a similar fate. There are a lot of guys in the Kings' minor league system who could potentially take his spot.
Both Stoll and Penner will likely be in for a pay cut. If they don't like the sound of that, then maybe it's time for Andrei Loktionov, King, Lewis, Jordan Nolan or oft-forgotten Marc-Andre Cliche to gain a bigger role.
Also, the money that would go to re-signing these three gentlemen would be more than enough to get Jonathan Quick in a Kings uniform for the next several years.
Does the Coaching Staff Stay the Same?
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Obviously, Darryl Sutter is staying. That should go without question, unless he suddenly wants to retire and go back to the farm. But honestly, the guy loves hockey so much, I highly doubt that would happen.
But John Stevens and Jamie Kompon still remain from the ruins of the Terry Murray regime.
John Stevens has been, well, fantastic. The team has had a great penalty kill and was an absurdly good defensive team all year and all postseason.
Kompon, on the other hand, carried the weight of a last-place offense almost all year. While they did click it together in the playoffs, the power play was anything but powerful. It was abysmal.
Sutter, when he came in to coach in December, was not allowed to bring in his own assistants. Former King Bernie Nichols was, however, asked to come in as an "offensive consultant."
Could we see a minor assistant coaching change? Should there even be an adjustment like that? Will Sutter get the chance to bring in his own coaches? Do you mess with a winning formula?
Tough questions that the Kings could face this offseason.