Kings hope added offense pays off
The Kings continue to assemble an impressive roster in Los Angeles as they chase the franchise's first championship. Actually, they'd just like to start with the club's first playoff series win in a decade.
The Kings haven't gotten past the first round since 2001. They didn't even make the playoffs for six straight seasons before the 2009-10 campaign. They've averaged just under 100 points the last two years, but both promising seasons ended early with first-round exits.
That may change this season after the Kings bulked up this summer with a blockbuster trade for former Flyers captain Mike Richards and the signing of Simon Gagne.
2010-11 record: 46-30-6, 98 points (4th Pacific Division; 7th Western Conference; lost in first round to San Jose, 4-2)
Key additions: F Mike Richards (trade with Philadelphia); F Simon Gagne (free agent); F Colin Fraser (trade with Edmonton)
Key losses: F Wayne Simmons (traded to Philadelphia); F Brayden Scheen (traded to Philadelphia); F Ryan Smyth (traded to Edmonton); F Michal Handzus (signed with San Jose); F Alexei Ponikarovsky (signed with Carolina); D Peter Harrold (signed with New Jersey)
Burning question: Will the Kings be able to come to terms with Drew Doughty?
The Bruins aren't the only team still trying to lock up a key restricted free agent. While Boston continues to work on a new deal for playoff hero Brad Marchand, the Kings could have an even bigger dilemma if they don't come to terms soon with young stud defenseman Drew Doughty.
The second overall pick in 2008, Doughty quickly established himself in the league with an All-Rookie Team selection in 2008-09, then earned second-team All-Star honors in 2009-10 after a 16-43-59 campaign. His numbers slipped a bit last season to 11-29-40, but he remains one of the top two-way defensemen in the league. He'll need to be paid like one of the league's top defensemen, too, but the Kings and Doughty's representatives have yet to settle on just how high his salary will climb.
Shea Weber's $7.5 million arbitration award could be complicating negotiations, but that was just a one-year deal and the Kings would no doubt like to lock up the 21-year-old for a lot longer and with a cap hit not quite that big.
2011-12 outlook: Assuming the Kings can work out a new deal with Doughty, they'll have a formidable team out West with a defense led by Doughty and Jack Johnson (5-37-42) and a deep offense augmented by their offseason moves. The trade for Richards (23-43-66 for Philadelphia last year) gives the Kings a strong 1-2 punch at center with Anze Kopitar (25-48-73). The signing of Gagne (17-23-40 in 63 games with Tampa) likewise strengthens the wings, where Dustin Brown (28-29-57), Justin Williams (22-35-57) and Dustin Penner (23-22-45) were already in place. Add in an emerging young star in net in Jonathan Quick (35-22-3, 2.24 GAA, .918 save percentage, 6 shutouts) and the Kings should be poised to finally make a deep playoff run.