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2010/11 Los Angeles Kings Predictions – Odds – Season Preview

2010-11 NHL Predictions/Previews: Los Angeles Kings

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In the post lockout era, the Pittsburgh Penguins and Chicago Blackhawks showed that building through the draft leads to championships. It seems the Los Angeles Kings are on the verge of becoming the next team to prove that theory.

Stanley Cup odds: +1800

Almost a decade’s worth of missed postseasons helped L.A. assemble a ton of big prospects, from Drew Doughty to Dustin Brown to Anze Kopitar, and all the stockpiling finally paid off last season.

The Kings exploded back into the playoffs and enter 2010-11 as legit Stanley Cup contenders. But did they do enough this offseason to take another step forward?

Everywhere you look in the Kings’ lineup, you see young studs. Up front, Slovenian Anze Kopitar has emerged as a legitimate No. 1 NHL center. He’s a point-per-game player already and can still improve; he’s just 23 years old. Kopitar has help up front from gritty captain Dustin Brown, tenacious Wayne Simmonds and crafty Justin Williams. The Kings have another young gun ready for a big role: center Brayden Schenn, a first-round pick from 2009.

On the back end, Drew Doughty seems poised to become the best offensive defenseman of this generation. Blessed with a tremendous instincts and creativity reminiscent of Ray Bourque, Doughty tallied 16 goals and 59 points as a 20-year-old last season. Washington’s Mike Green, by comparison, had 12-points as a 21-year-old sophomore. Doughty is unquestionably the franchise’s pillar. Jack Johnson, a former third overall pick for Carolina, provides great skating, size and swagger as Doughty’s partner in crime.

Jonathan Quick set a single-season franchise record for wins last year but, should he falter, the best goaltender not starting in the NHL waits in the wings. Jonathan Bernier ripped up the AHL last year and impressed in his NHL debut as well. He’s L.A.’s goalie of the future. He’ll likely back up Quick this season but should be ready to take over No. 1 duty at any moment.

The Kings have done a nice job building around that young, talented core with cagey vets. Ryan Smyth is a great locker-room guy and viable top-six forward; Rob Scuderi and Willie Mitchell bring toughness and experience to the back end.

The Kings are definitely going places. However, looking at their depth chart still disappoints me. In the salary cap era, success can be fleeting. As the Blackhawks have shown, even good young teams sometimes crumble quickly if management can’t afford to keep everyone. The same could happen in a few years for the Kings – so why aren’t they trying harder to win now?

The Kings had some money to spend and some first-round talent to spare this offseason, be it Schenn, Thomas Hickey or Derek Forbort, this year’s  pick. They should’ve broken the bank on Ilya Kovalchuk. They could’ve done that and packaged a prospect or two to land an available veteran like Bobby Ryan or Tomas Kaberle. The Kings are good enough to win today; they don’t have to wait for more guys to develop.

Had the Kings taken the proper action and really assembled arms this offseason, they probably would’ve been my pick to win the Stanley Cup. But, since they settled for status quo, I think they’ll fall short. They should be a high playoff seed and perhaps leapfrog San Jose for the Pacific Division title. But I think Vancouver will emerge as the West’s representative in the Stanley Cup final this year – not L.A.

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About Shea Matthews

Shea Matthews the Senior Writer at CP. Lives and breathes sports. He made the transition from athlete to sports journalist at a young age, writing in TV & national papers. Shea applies his knowledge to sports betting + handicapping daily, and shares winning picks with the world.