Parker Michaels continues his NHL Season Preview series in reverse to first order according to his projected standings. Be sure to bookmark our Season Previews home base here where links to all 31 teams will appear as they’re posted. At No. 8, the Los Angeles Kings.
Stanley Cup: +4000 (Bookmaker)
Western Conference: +2000 (Bookmaker)
Pacific Division: +766 (Bookmaker)
Regular Season Points: 92.5 (-112, -108) (Bookmaker), 93.5 (+100, -130) (Bovada), 93.5 (+100, -120) (BetOnline)
Make Playoffs: YES -180, NO +150 (BetOnline), YES -155, NO +125 (Bovada)
Current odds as of October 1, 2018
PROJECTED DEPTH CHART
*Individual Player Ratings represent how many points in the standings each player is directly responsible for over the course of the full season and is called Point Shares. It involves the base formula created by Justin Kubatko at hockey-reference.com. An explanation of how I further use his methods can be found here with a more detailed methodology by Kubatko himself, here. The average value for a forward is 3.5 and a defenseman is 4.4 Point Shares
*Salaries in green denote entry-level contract
NHL RANK: 4
NHL RANK: 31
NHL RANK: 6
NHL RANK: 9
NHL RANK: 5
NHL RANK: 14
(Starter – T-7, Backup – T-58)
The Los Angeles Kings are old and slow and will probably miss the playoffs.
Well, that is the narrative most are peddling in the preseason, but I do not buy it. This team is still built on the foundation of defense and goaltending and all the major players are back who contributed, statistically, to the number one defense in the NHL allowing a league-low 203 total goals (2.48 per game). Jonathan Quick is also back in net and although I do believe his numbers have been propped up over the years thanks to an outstanding defensive system in front of him, he is still a top ten goaltender in the league on his own.
Looking at the Kings Point Shares from last year, the team played to a 103.4 pace, so they actually underperformed with a 98-point season overall. Their offseason losses were minor with only depth forwards Andy Andreoff (traded to Tampa Bay for goaltender Peter Budaj), Nic Dowd (free agent) and depth defensemen Christian Folin and Kevin Gravel (free agents) leaving. Deadline rental Tobias Rieder also left as a free agent. That only accounts for -4.1 points in the standings which would take them down to about the 99-point mark.
The big summer acquisition was Ilya Kovalchuk who, although 35 years old, was one of the most feared goal scorers in the NHL and should still be able to contribute 25-30 goals and 60-70 points. He projects to add 7.5 points of value for LA which would take them to about a 106-point team.
After factoring in injuries to Dustin Brown (broken finger), and Jonny Brodzinski (shoulder surgery), two right-wings who would have been in the lineup, prospect additions, changes within the division, and age effects (varying small bumps for players in their early 20s and gradual declines for the over 30 crowd), this Kings team should still be capable of topping the 100-point mark. There is also the return of a healthy Jeff Carter who was limited to just 27 games last year after a lacerated ankle tendon.
I am sure a few out there who know my favorite team is the Kings will accuse me of a homer bias here, but the numbers say what the numbers say, and the calculated projection is the exact same formula for all 31 teams. I have also had the odd person accuse me of betting on my Kings too often but the numbers from last year would prove otherwise. I bet on LA 13 times, turning a profit at 8-5, +3.87 units. I bet against LA 15 times, going 7-8 and -1.27 units. So, overall, I turned a profit on Kings games and made more money when I bet on them, even though I bet against them more.
My point projection of 103.4 is substantially higher than current offshore sportsbooks numbers who sit at 92.5 to 93.5 overall. Those numbers are too low but fall in line with the public perception that the Kings window has closed. I do not think it has and would recommend a full unit bet on the over 92.5 (-112) regular season points at Bookmaker or the 93.5 (+100) at BetOnline and Bovada.
Current Stanley Cup Futures list Los Angeles on average from 12th to 14th, a bit lower than my projection of 8th overall. This is not surprising as from what I have seen, I am on an island with projecting the Kings to be a top ten team, giving me two islands I now own heading into the season.
If you are looking for LA Futures (and I believe you should be), head on over to Bookmaker who are significantly lower on the Kings, listing them 18th overall at a sexy price of +4000. That +4000 on LA to win the Cup is worth a half unit bet, in my opinion.
Regarding prop bets for awards, Quick is tied as the ninth favorite for the Vezina at +1800 over on Bovada. Quick is certainly capable of winning this award and has finished in the top ten of voting on six separate occasions with two prior nominations. There is a bit of value at this number, but he is currently fourth on my list and there are two names below him I have more interest in.
Kopitar finished third in Hart voting last season and is listed as the tenth favorite entering this season at +1800 but I think there are better options around him at that price. The most interesting category might be Ilya Kovalchuk for the Rocket Richard. And by interesting, I mean, fun to look at. Kovalchuk scored at least 41 goals over six consecutive seasons and won the Rocket Richard in 2003-04 as a 20-year old. He scored 37 in his last full NHL season in 2011-12. Yes, he is older now and might not match his age in goals but at +5500 there are worse lottery tickets out there (I am not officially betting this).
Salary numbers from capfriendly.com, stats from hockey-reference.com and naturalstattrick.com