It has been a very interesting offseason for the Los Angeles Kings.
After a slow start to the free agent signing period the Los Angeles Kings made a splash by signing defenseman Rob Scuderi to a four year $13.6 million deal, making him the highest paid defenseman on the Kings roster.
But to these moves by the Kings move them into the top eight teams of the Western Conference?
It is unclear at this time as we are still over a month away from NHL training camps but when you look at the make up of the Western Conference for the coming season you see that the Kings will have quite a challenge. The Kings biggest challenge in making the playoffs in 2009-2010 will be their own divison, the Pacific divison.
The teams that you would expect to be at the top of the division would be the Anahiem Ducks and San Jose Sharks (even with their lack of changes) which leaves three teams, The Los Angeles Kings, Dallas Stars and the Phoenix Coyotes.
The Coyotes are still a very young team, like the Kings, are possibly a team on the rise but their defense and goaltending are suspect. The Coyotes will be competitive but will likely slip to the lower half of the Wester Conference.
The Dallas Stars are expected to bounce back this season after riding themselves of Sean Avery and the return of the captain Brenden Morrow. Marty Turco will look to have a bounce back season after a very disappointed 2008-2009 campaign. If he can you would have to think that the Stars will be a playoff contender once again.
Finally we arrive to the Los Angeles Kings.
The Kings finally have two solid scoring lines with Alex Frolov/Azne Kopitar/Dustin Brown and Ryan Smyth/Jared Stoll/Justin Williams. The Kings also have good depth on defense with Scuderi, Jack Johnson, Drew Doughty, Sean O’Donnell, and Matt Greene.
The area of concern for the Kings is their goaltending, Jonathan Quick was very solid for the Kings last year but was it a fluke? We don’t know but he will likely be the starter come October when the season starts, unless top prospect Jonathan Bernier blows away the Kings coaching staff in the preseason.
So where does that leave the Kings?
The Kings are probably the third or fourth best team in the Pacific division and I’m not sure that they are quite ready to make the jump from Western Conference basemen to a 7th or 8th seed, especially with the emergence of the Columbus Blue-Jackets and St. Louis Blues.
Next season should see the Los Angeles Kings move from 14th in the Western conference to 10th or 11th in the West.