The Los Angeles Kings have built a strong roster of talented young players and experienced veterans, and since most of the team's core is signed long-term, the defending Stanley Cup champions are capable of beginning an NHL dynasty.
Repeating as Stanley Cup champions is a great challenge, which is why no team has done it successfully in nearly 15 years, but if there's one team poised for a lengthy run of impressive playoff successes, it's the Kings.
Take a look at their most important players, and how long they are signed for. (All salary information courtesy Capgeek).
|Player||Position||Age||Years Signed For ||Salary Cap Hit|
|Jonathan Quick||G||26||11 ||$5.8 million|
|Anze Kopitar||C||25||4||$6.8 million|
|Mike Richards||C||27||8||$5.75 million|
|Jeff Carter||C||27||10||$5.272 million|
|Drew Doughty||D||22||7||$7 million|
|Dustin Brown||RW||28||2||$3.175 million|
|Willie Mitchell||D||35||2||$3.5 million|
|Justin Williams||RW||31||3||$3.65 million|
This list does not include good young players such as forwards Dwight King and Tyler Taffoli, as well as defenseman Slava Voynov, who will not be eligible for unrestricted free agency for quite some time.
The Kings have tremendous depth and established young stars in nearly every part of their team. Kopitar, Richards and Carter are all No. 1 centers, Doughty is a franchise building defenseman and Quick is the best young goaltender in the NHL and the reigning playoff MVP.
Any team with this much talent and depth is going to be a contender for a long time. General manager Dean Lombardi has also done a nice job of managing the salary cap. Sure, the Kings do have some very long contracts, but they have very few, if any, horrible cap hits that are hurting the team's salary cap flexibility in a major way.
Depending on what the new CBA includes, the Kings' long contracts (Richards, Carter & Quick) might not hurt them if these players retire prior to their deal's conclusion.
All the pieces are in place for the Kings to be a top team for five to seven more seasons. Their strong goaltending and scoring depth give them a tremendous advantage over so many other teams. Injuries are always a factor, but if the Kings' top players are consistently healthy, they will dominate the Pacific division for many years.
Another way that Lombardi can strengthen his roster is by trading young backup goalie Jonathan Bernier, whose contract will expire at the end of next season. He would be an upgrade between the pipes for many teams, and is a valuable trade chip for the Kings.
When you look at the other teams in the NHL, there aren't many who have as many top-tier players signed for multiple years as the Kings. The Boston Bruins and New York Rangers are two other elite franchises who could prevent a Kings dynasty, but Los Angeles matches up well against both these teams.
With a strong group of forwards that have exceptional goal-scoring and playmaking skills, a blue line filled with physical and experienced defensemen and a franchise goalie just starting to reach his prime, the Kings have a great opportunity to become the first NHL dynasty since the great Edmonton Oilers teams in the 1980s that included Wayne Gretzky and Mark Messier.
The Kings are going to be a Western Conference power for a long time with a roster built for playoff success.