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No team in the NHL has repeated as the Stanley Cup champion since the Detroit Red Wings in 1997-98. In fact, only twice this century as a Stanley Cup winner even returned to the Finals the next season – the Devils lost to the Avalanche in 2001 and the Red Wings lost to the Penguins in 2009. Thus it’s rather unlikely that the 2012 NHL champion Los Angeles Kings hoist the Cup again in 2013, but they are 11/1 second-favorites behind Pittsburgh to win it next season on Bovada’s NHL futures odds.
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Los Angeles does seem to have the pieces in place to be a top contender again next season as almost all of the key pieces should return. Goaltender Jonathan Quick, the Conn Smythe Trophy winner, has one season and $1.8 million remaining on his contract. Quick was named the MVP of the playoffs after yielding just 29 goals in the Kings’ 20 playoff games on the way to their first title. With a 1.41 goals-against average and a .946 save percentage in the postseason, Quick set NHL records for goalies who played at least 15 postseason games. Look for him to get an extremely lucrative long-term deal this offseason.
But No. 1 on GM Dean Lombardi’s list of things to do is re-sign unrestricted free agents Jarret Stoll, a center, and Dustin Penner, a winger. Stoll had six goals and 15 assists in the regular season and five points in the playoffs. Penner had 17 points during the season and then 11 in the playoffs.
In the Kings’ favor is that they have the top young defenseman in the league in Drew Doughty, who likely only will get better. And they will get a full season with Darryl Sutter behind the bench (he took over for the fired Terry Murray) and a full season with Jeff Carter, who was probably the key piece in L.A.’s title run after he was acquired from Columbus. The Kings’ record under Sutter, who arrived in late December, was 25-13-11 in the regular season and 16-4 in the postseason. Carter, meanwhile, had eight goals in the postseason, including two in the Game 6 clincher vs. New Jersey.
But recent history suggests a new champion next summer. Nine different teams have won championships in the last nine seasons.