Los Angeles Kings: 6 Reasons the Kings Will Repeat as Stanley Cup Champions
The NHL and the players' association reached a tentative agreement Sunday morning to end a nearly four-month-old lockout.
The marathon negotiating session lasted more than 16 hours, producing a 10-year deal for the NHL to resume action this season.
Now that the NHL has seemingly returned, the Los Angeles Kings can begin their quest to defend the Stanley Cup Trophy. After an eventful winter with Lord Stanley's Cup, the Los Angeles Kings are rested, refreshed and ready for some hockey.
Here are six reasons why the Los Angeles Kings will not only win the Pacific Division, but also take home the Stanley Cup for a second straight season.
Rookie Sensations on the Rise
Slava Voynov, Dwight King and Jordan Nolan were rookie sensations last season that will become marquee names in Los Angeles.
Voynov, who only played 54 games in his rookie campaign, did an excellent job as the starting defenseman alongside Drew Doughty. Voynov scored 20 points and had a plus-12 rating in place of the departed Jack Johnson.
Dwight King made his biggest splash in the postseason as the third-line forward, scoring five goals (a Kings rookie record) and adding three assists. The 6'4" King is a physical presence that will be effective in Los Angeles for at least the next two years after signing a contract extension this offseason.
Nolan is an underrated center who perfectly complements the Los Angeles Kings' aggressive fourth line. Now a second-year player, Nolan will be able to blossom in L.A.as an assist machine and a tenacious forward.
These players head a young fourth line for the Los Angeles Kings that will provide key minutes for coach Daryl Sutter all season long.
Jeff Carter Part of the Scoring Picture
With only 15 regular-season games in Los Angeles, Jeff Carter never got a full chance to gel with his new team. Once the postseason arrived, Carter brought his best game to the Kings' offensive attack.
Carter's role on the starting line is huge, especially when he can feed the strikers and deliver on slap-shot goals. He's quick around the net and will continue to thrive alongside former running mate from Philadelphia, Mike Richards.
With Carter playing to his 30-goal per season average, the Los Angeles Kings will greatly improve upon their 29th-ranked anemic offense last season.
Jonathan Quick Guarding the Posts
Goaltender Jonathan Quick carried the Los Angeles Kings to a Stanley Cup Trophy in 2012, and will be dominant once again this season.
For Tim Thomas and Antti Niemi, life behind the net declined slightly after winning the Stanley Cup. That being said, both teams made playoffs the following season and posted a GAA under 2.38.
Quick's career GAA is 2.30, and even with a slight decline in stats, the 26-year-old goaltender will still be one of the best players in the game. A nice break will bring Quick back refreshed, aggressive and making spectacular plays on a nightly basis.
The Los Angeles Kings won the Stanley Cup with defense and will repeat as champions, in large part because of Jonathan Quick's dominant play.
Slovenia Superstar Primed to Erupt
Anze Kopitar burst on to the national scene after compiling a postseason-leading 20 points, including a boatload of outstanding feats of athleticism.
This success was not short lived as Kopitar registered at least 70 points in the last three seasons. He'll continue to dominate defenders with a combination of size (6'3" 227 pounds) and elite speed at the forward position.
Although a proven commodity in Los Angeles, Kopitar is now recognized as a top talent that can carry the Los Angeles Kings to consecutive Stanley Cup Championships. Look for him to build upon his 25-goal performance from last season and develop into one of the most dominant forwards in the NHL.
With a much-improved unit surrounding him, Anze Kopitar will put up top 10 scoring numbers and lead the Los Angeles Kings to another Stanley Cup Trophy.
Daryl Sutter System Built for Success
When Darryl Sutter took over as the third coach for the Los Angeles Kings last season, the team responded positively to his silent demeanor and hard-nosed approach.
Coach Sutter emphasizes defensive intensity, counter-attacking and heavy-hitting hockey. The Los Angeles Kings have the bodies in Slava Voynov, Drew Doughty and Rob Scuderi to slow down any team in the league.
The Kings' elite penalty kill also ranked fourth in the league last season. This dominance was a true testament to Coach Sutter's influence on the Los Angeles Kings.
Under direction from Sutter, the Los Angeles Kings will play with composure and toughness through the condensed hockey season. This will secure a spot in the playoffs, avoiding the looming championship hangover.
In Dustin Brown We Trust
When times were getting tough during a rugged 1-5-1 stretch last February, the Los Angeles Kings considered shopping their underperforming captain, Dustin Brown.
Dustin Brown responded to the criticism by scoring three goals and one assists against the Chicago Blackhawks, breaking the abysmal streak. From that point on, Brown was electric, scoring points in 10-straight games and pushing the Kings into the playoffs.
This type of performance speaks to Brown's ability to lead the Los Angeles towards another Stanley Cup. The 28-year-old captain is a passionate leader who can lay the wood with a big hit on an opposing player or silence the critics with a clutch goal.
Expect Dustin Brown to amp up the intensity early in the season to solidify the Kings' case as the best team in the NHL.