With the unfortunate loss to the Edmonton Oilers in the 2022-23 postseason, the Los Angeles Kings enter the 2023-24 NHL season a determined bunch.
However, the first thing is first, and that is winning the Pacific Division.
The Vegas Golden Knights won the Stanley Cup last season, and the Oilers seem to always be in the Kings’ way, but is this the season Los Angeles gets it done?
The Kings are bringing back a formidable lineup to the game every night. With defensemen Sean Durzi and Sean Walker, plus goaltender Cal Petersen, finding new homes via trade, the Kings added pieces that strengthen their lineup. They added offensively gifted center, Pierre-Luc Dubois, goaltender Cam Talbot and re-signed defenseman Vladislav Gavrikov to a new deal, adding a piece to each position.
Dubois should certainly give Los Angeles an improved offense and help the power play. Talbot will give the Kings a solid backup netminder capable of filling in for starter Pheonix Copley. Gavrikov showed last season that he can play in the Kings lineup and gives strength and toughness to a solid defense.
The question is about the Golden Knights, the Oilers. And their improvements in the off-season. Both teams have not done much to greatly improve their chances next season.
The Kings, Oilers, and Golden Knights should be playoff-bound next season with a rematch between Los Angeles and Edmonton.
While all three are not locks for the playoffs, they have laid the groundwork and have good foundations to be successful enough to land playoff spots. Los Angeles had a strong group last season and has made the necessary improvements to leapfrog Vegas and Edmonton. We have not mentioned the likelihood of prospect defenseman Brandt Clarke joining the roster for the upcoming season.
The Kings came up just short last season but are primed and ready for another push at the Stanley Cup this season but first the Pacific Division.
With Vegas, Edmonton, and Los Angeles as the top three, we cannot forget about the Seattle Kraken, who had a tremendous 2023/2024 season. They made the playoffs last season and are quickly on the rise as a team to watch this season. As for the Pacific Division winner this season, it may come down to the best goaltending duo.
The Kings have a solid duo in Copley and Talbot, but will that be enough for the Kings to grab the Pacific Division title and advance to round 2?
Photo: Eric Stephens/The Athletic