The NHL concluded last season with the Vegas Golden Knights hoisting the Stanley Cup, just five years after they became a franchise. It has been an extremely impressive run, as most expansion teams haven't had nearly the amount of sustained success that Vegas has had since inception. Usually, the team that is coming off a championship is the favorite to repeat the following season, but that is not the case with Vegas. In fact, you can get them right now at +1200 to win the Stanley Cup in 2024, which is the sixth best odds to win.
I will not be targeting them to repeat, as that is very hard to do, but I see value in another Western Conference team that I have been backing a lot over the last few seasons. If you have been following me on here, you probably know where I am going with this. I have several teams that I am looking at right now, but my favorite bet lies on the Pacific coast.
This is the year. Finally, after all of my preaching and taking them night after night when they were always undervalued, it is time for the Kings to reign. They have now lost in the first-round of the playoffs to the Edmonton Oilers two years in a row, and it's time for them to step-up and say "no more." They started off their offseason with a bang, trading for superstar center Pierre-Luc Dubois from the Winnipeg Jets to give themselves a new first-line piece that could make a huge difference. Anze Kopitar is on the last year of his contract, so they needed to lock up the position long term. Still, now they have Kopitar on the second-line, where he should have even more success.
The defense for the Kings has always been there, as it has been the staple of this team for over a decade now. Last season, they ranked fourth in the NHL with a 2.38 xGA/60 average, showing just how good they are at stopping opponents from scoring. And that was with the goaltending situation being up in smoke, as that has been the main issue for them over the last few seasons. They brought in Joonas Korpisalo last season, and while he had some very good regular season numbers, he really fell apart in the playoffs against Edmonton. They decided not to bring him back, and instead signed Cam Talbot. Probably wouldn't have been my first choice, as he has been inconsistent for a while now, but he is a veteran in net that has been there before.
To add on, I also expect that some of the younger players that the Kings acquired during their down years to start producing at a high level. We saw Gabe Vilardi have a breakout season in 2022-23, solidifying his place on this roster, and now I want to see the same thing out of former second overall pick Quinton Byfield. He's just 20 years old, and has shown flashes of that ability that made him such a high draft selection, but hasn't been ready to produce at the NHL level. I expect that to change as we go into 2024.
Overall, I think there is a lot of value on the Kings, as always. They seem to be very undervalued all the time, and I'll keep making money on them this upcoming season. This line has also moved from +2500 to +2200 over the last month or so, so some money is already coming in.