Onward to the off-season - LA Kings Insider

Congratulations to the Pittsburgh Penguins on capturing their fourth Stanley Cup. Since 1995, six teams have won multiple Cups: Detroit (four), New Jersey (three), Chicago (three), Los Angeles (two), Colorado (two), Pittsburgh (two). Also participating: Dallas, Tampa Bay, Carolina, Anaheim and Boston.

Congratulations goes out as well to Sidney Crosby, whose personality, stewardship and importance to the game may not be fully understood by those outside of the 412 area code. Until Overlord McDavid seizes power in a bloody coup, Crosby is the best player in the league and among the very most exciting players to watch, and though strong arguments can be put forward for a Phil Kessel or Matt Murray Conn Smythe campaign – in successful Stanley Cup runs, there are always a number viable players to choose from – I don’t think one player had such an impact at both ends of the ice, in all situations, while serving as a conduit of the team’s emotional and tactical efforts.

Here’s Darryl Sutter speaking about Crosby on December 4, the day before the first of the Kings’ two wins against the Penguins this season:

Maybe he’s playing a more complete game, even more so. Their lineup is deep. It’s like four good lines deep, the way have guys spread around. They have Hornqvist playing the third line, and Eric Fehr and Matt Cullen are on the fourth line with the Russian boy, so pretty deep. Everybody’s talking about it because Crosby’s numbers are down, but the team’s not getting enough credit for goals-against. It’s probably one of the best they’ve ever had. They’re playing a game that’s more suited for success.

This was noted, of course, in the final throes of the Mike Johnston empire, on a day in which the Penguins held a tenuous grip on a wild card berth. Mike Sullivan generated that buy-in, and though the Penguins are pressed up against the cap and will have to make a decision on Marc Andre-Fleury, it’s easy to envision them amongst the teams with the most credible claims to the 2017 Cup.

I’ve spoken with several Pittsburgh and non-Pittsburgh writers about Crosby, who always becomes the scorn of opposing fans even though he’s simply fantastic to watch and among the most skilled players any of us have ever seen in our lifetimes. Yes, there are some valid if secondary complaints about his regular conversations with the officials, or some of his antics from playoff series in prior years. That he is a constant focus of those who choose when, where and on what network to televise games, but he can’t control any of that. For someone whose ascension to the peak of the hockey world was chronicled before he began playing junior hockey, and for a player who has had his on-ice life spotlighted and dissected more than any other player of his era, he has handled himself with class and consideration, and you’re not going to find many people who interact with him regularly or semi-regularly searching for put-downs on his character or temperament. The NHL is fortunate to have him.

Spiel over. Onward to the off-season we go. The next month represents the busiest part of the off-season, and as usual, expect regular reports through free agency intermixed with player evaluations. One minor scheduling bit to note – had San Jose won the Stanley Cup, the plan was to have Los Angeles open up the season at the SAP Center on Wednesday, October 12. Now that the celebration will be pared and the Sharks will be hanging a conference banner, I’m not sure if that’s still the case. In any event, the Kings’ home opener will take place on Friday, October 14. The full schedule is expected to come out around June 20-22.

For the purpose of conversation, here are Bovada’s most recent Stanley Cup odds. It’s worth about as much as Stanley Cup Champion San Jose Sharks paraphernalia because we’re not yet at the player movement part of the off-season. But, hey, content is content is content, and it’s June 13. (Happy anniversary, by the way, Kings fans.)

Pittsburgh Penguins 8/1
Chicago Blackhawks 10/1
Washington Capitals 10/1
St. Louis Blues 12/1
Los Angeles Kings 14/1
San Jose Sharks 14/1
Tampa Bay Lightning 14/1
Anaheim Ducks 16/1
Dallas Stars 16/1
Detroit Red Wings 18/1
Minnesota Wild 18/1
Nashville Predators 18/1
New York Rangers 18/1
Montreal Canadiens 20/1
New York Islanders 20/1
Boston Bruins 25/1
Florida Panthers 25/1
Philadelphia Flyers 25/1
Colorado Avalanche 33/1
Calgary Flames 40/1
Edmonton Oilers 40/1
Ottawa Senators 40/1
Arizona Coyotes 50/1
Carolina Hurricanes 50/1
Columbus Blue Jackets 50/1
New Jersey Devils 50/1
Vancouver Canucks 50/1
Winnipeg Jets 50/1
Buffalo Sabres 66/1
Toronto Maple Leafs 66/1

A site note: LA Kings Insider will be on hand at both the NHL Awards and the NHL Draft next week. As always, there’s plenty more to come, Insiders. Enjoy your Monday.

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Jake Muzzin

#6 | 6′ 3″ | 216 lb | Age: 27

Born: Feb 21, 1989
Birthplace: Woodstock, ON, CAN
Position: D
Handedness: Left

Bio

Muzzin was drafted in 2007 by the Pittsburgh Penguins, before signing to the Kings in 2010. He has since become the first Woodstock, Ontario professional athlete to win a major sports trophy.
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Anze Kopitar

#11 | 6′ 3″ | 224 lb | Age: 29

Born: August 24, 1987
Birthplace: Jesenice, SVN
Position: C
Handedness: Left

Bio

As the 11th overall pick in the 2005 NHL Entry Draft, Kopitar became the first Slovenian to play in the NHL. Kopitar has spent his entire NHL career with the Kings, and following the 2015–16 season, was named the Kings’ captain. Noted for both his offensive and defensive play, Kopitar was awarded the Frank J. Selke Trophy as the best defensive forward in the NHL in 2016.

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Drew Doughty

#8 | 6′ 1″ | 195 lb | Age: 26

Born: December 8, 1989
Birthplace: London, ON, CAN
Position: D
Handedness: Right

Bio

Bio: Doughty is a Canadian defenceman who was selected second overall by the Kings in the 2008 Draft. Doughty made his NHL debut in 2008 as an 18-year-old and was named to the All-Rookie Team. He is a two-time Stanley Cup champion with the Kings, a two-time Olympic gold medallist with the Canadian national team, and a Norris Trophy finalist.

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Tyler Toffoli

#73 | 6′ 1″ | 200 lb | Age: 24

Born: April 24, 1992
Birthplace: Scarborough, ON, CAN
Position: C
Handedness: Right

Bio

Toffoli is a Canadian professional ice hockey forward, drafted by the Kings in the second round of the 2010 Draft. Toffoli scored his first career NHL goal in his second game in a 4–0 victory over the Phoenix Coyotes in 2013. He was also named the 2012–13 AHL All-Rookie Team.
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Jeff Carter

#77 | 6′ 4″ | 215 lb | Age: 31

Born: January 1, 1985
Birthplace: London, ON, CAN
Position: C
Handedness: Right

Bio

Carter began his hockey career playing in the Ontario Hockey League in Canada before joining the AHL and playing for the Philadelphia Flyers. He was then traded to the Colombus Blue jackets before joining the LA Kings in 2012, where he has since won two Stanley Cups with the Kings.

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Jonathan Quick

#32 | 6′ 1″ | 218 lb | Age: 30

Born: January 21, 1986
Birthplace: Milford, CT, USA
Position: G
Handedness: Left

Bio

Bio: Quick is the current goaltender for the LA Kings and was selected by Los Angeles at the 2005 NHL Entry Draft. Previously, Quick was a silver medalist with USA at the 2010 Winter Olympics. He’s won two Stanley Cup championships with the Kings, along with being the most recent goaltender to be awarded the Conn Smythe Trophy as the Most Valuable Player (MVP) of the 2012 Stanley Cup playoffs.

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