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(Page 14 of 15)'s 30 in 30 package: 2013-14

30 in 30: Kings' questions include Kopitar, Frattin

Sunday, 08.04.2013 / 3:00 AM /'s 30 in 30 package: 2013-14

Dan Rosen - Senior Writer

The Los Angeles Kings won the Stanley Cup in 2012 and got to the Western Conference Final last season, losing in five games to the Chicago Blackhawks. Most teams would consider being among the final four teams playing a somewhat successful season, but Kings players parted for the offseason with a sour taste, feeling they never played up to their high standards in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

"Four years ago we were getting a parade for making the playoffs," Kings general manager Dean Lombardi told "That sentiment is gone. They expect the best."

The Kings again have a roster good enough to be crowned the best next June, but there are questions that need to be answered.

Here are six:

30 in 30: Toffoli, Vey top prospect pipeline for Kings

Sunday, 08.04.2013 / 3:00 AM /'s 30 in 30 package: 2013-14

Dan Rosen - Senior Writer

The core players who make the Los Angeles Kings legitimate Stanley Cup contenders are either in their prime or close to entering their prime years. There's little to no chance any prospect is going to take ice time away from Dustin Brown, Anze Kopitar, Mike Richards, Jeff Carter, Justin Williams, Drew Doughty or Slava Voynov.

However, if general manager Dean Lombardi has done his job the way he set out to do it, a handful of the following 10 prospects will be pushing for a roster spot in training camp next month, and the rest aren't too far behind.

Here's a look at Los Angeles' top 10 prospects, according to

30 in 30: Mitchell's health X-factor for Kings

Sunday, 08.04.2013 / 3:00 AM /'s 30 in 30 package: 2013-14

Dan Rosen - Senior Writer

One of the offseason goals for general manager Dean Lombardi was to make sure the Los Angeles Kings' defense was deep enough in case Willie Mitchell remains on the sidelines because of his knee injury.

Mitchell's offseason goal is to show Lombardi he didn't have to be so cautious.

After missing all of last season with a knee injury that puzzled doctors and left Mitchell depressed, the 36-year-old defenseman has been making progress in his rehab while skating at the Kings' practice facility as he attempts to get himself ready for training camp next month.

30 in 30: Kings not satisfied, hungry for second Cup

Sunday, 08.04.2013 / 3:00 AM /'s 30 in 30 package: 2013-14

Dan Rosen - Senior Writer

The feeling among Los Angeles Kings players as they parted for the offseason was mutual disgust.

Surely this wasn't their first time losing a playoff round, but it was the first time they lost one after winning the Stanley Cup. That's why it felt so terrible to go out in five games against the Chicago Blackhawks in the Western Conference Final.

"You don't know what you've lost until you've won it," Kings captain Dustin Brown told "Doing what we did in 2012 showed not only the players, but the staff and management, what it actually means and how special it is to win it, so the next year when you don't win it you feel like you've lost a lot more than you did."

30 in 30: Lineup stability continues for Kings

Sunday, 08.04.2013 / 3:00 AM /'s 30 in 30 package: 2013-14

Corey Masisak - Staff Writer

The Los Angeles Kings had a remarkably stable roster the season after winning the Stanley Cup in 2012, and that is a trend that hasn't changed much heading into the 2013-14 campaign.

Los Angeles said goodbye to a couple of supporting cast members from the 2012 title team this offseason, but all of the key cogs from that edition remain. In fact, the Kings could dress 16 players on opening night in October who were among the 20 in the lineup for Game 6 against the New Jersey Devils -- only Simon Gagne, Rob Scuderi, Dustin Penner and Jonathan Bernier are gone.

Scuderi and Penner left via free agency in the offseason, and Bernier was traded to Toronto for Matt Frattin, Bernier's replacement (Ben Scrivens) and a second-round pick. The Kings likely will look to their younger defensemen to absorb Scuderi's minutes (and tough assignments), and they could get a boost from a healthy Willie Mitchell. Jeff Schultz was a depth signing as a free agent after he was bought out by the Washington Capitals.

30 in 30: Oilers lineup improving as rebuild progresses

Saturday, 08.03.2013 / 3:00 AM /'s 30 in 30 package: 2013-14

Corey Masisak - Staff Writer

The Edmonton Oilers have amassed the prized young talent a full-fledged rebuild is expected to yield, but they haven't converted it into a winning team to this point.

It's taking a little longer than other franchises who committed to such a path; the Pittsburgh Penguins and Washington Capitals made the Stanley Cup Playoffs in Year 3 of their Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin eras, and the Chicago Blackhawks were Stanley Cup champions in the final year of the entry-level contracts for Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews. Taylor Hall and Jordan Eberle finished their ELCs without a playoff appearance, but the fourth time could be the charm for the prized duo.

Edmonton traded its captain this summer, but Shawn Horcoff had been pushed into a reduced role. The Oilers added a potential top-six forward in another deal, acquiring left wing David Perron from the St. Louis Blues. They also obtained some needed experience on the blue line and a bottom-six center to win faceoffs and help the penalty kill with the free-agent signings of defenseman Andrew Ference and center Boyd Gordon.

30 in 30: Coach, Nugent-Hopkins two Oilers questions

Saturday, 08.03.2013 / 3:00 AM /'s 30 in 30 package: 2013-14

Brian Compton - Deputy Managing Editor

The Edmonton Oilers made some strides last season, but not enough of them to put an end to what is now a seven-year Stanley Cup Playoff drought. Because of that, another new regime is in place.

Craig MacTavish, who won three Stanley Cups during his playing days with the Oilers, replaced Steve Tambellini as general manager in April. Two months later, MacTavish put his first official stamp on the club when he fired coach Ralph Krueger and replaced him with Dallas Eakins.

So, is this the regime that will finally return this storied franchise back to prominence? It may take some more time before thinking about a Stanley Cup parade in Edmonton, but there could be enough pieces in place for the Oilers to return to the postseason for the first time since they lost Game 7 of the 2006 Stanley Cup Final.

Here are six questions facing the Oilers as they head into next season:

30 in 30: Youthful core will be key for Oilers in 2013-14

Saturday, 08.03.2013 / 3:00 AM /'s 30 in 30 package: 2013-14

Brian Compton - Deputy Managing Editor

Seven years have passed since the Edmonton Oilers made that memorable run to Game 7 of the 2006 Stanley Cup Final before falling short against the Carolina Hurricanes. Nobody at the time could have thought it would mark the beginning of a long postseason drought.

The Oilers improved last season (19-22-7), but it wasn't enough to save the jobs of either general manager Steve Tambellini or coach Ralph Krueger.

Craig MacTavish, who won the Stanley Cup three times in Edmonton as a player, was named GM on April 15. MacTavish fired Krueger on June 8, and Dallas Eakins, an up-and-comer in the eyes of many, was hired two days later to coach this young, talented group. Eakins is the Oilers' fourth coach in five seasons.

30 in 30: Oilers see prospect talent shift to defense

Saturday, 08.03.2013 / 3:00 AM /'s 30 in 30 package: 2013-14

Brian Compton - Deputy Managing Editor

For three straight years the Edmonton Oilers were the first team to the podium at the NHL Draft. Losing seasons allowed them to rebuild with Taylor Hall, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Nail Yakupov.

Those losing seasons have led to a new regime in Edmonton. Craig MacTavish replaced Steve Tambellini as general manager in April and Dallas Eakins was named coach in June, replacing Ralph Krueger.

And though the Oilers aren't pleased with where they've finished in the standings in recent years, they can take solace in the fact they've been able to rebuild their system via the draft.

Here's a look at Edmonton's top 10 prospects, according to

30 in 30: Healthy Nugent-Hopkins is Oilers' X-factor

Saturday, 08.03.2013 / 3:00 AM /'s 30 in 30 package: 2013-14

Brian Compton - Deputy Managing Editor

If the Edmonton Oilers are going to end their seven-year drought and qualify for the Stanley Cup Playoffs, they're going to need a healthy Ryan Nugent-Hopkins to revive his role as the club's No. 1 center.

The No. 1 selection at the 2011 NHL Draft, Nugent-Hopkins missed the final five games of last season and underwent surgery April 24 to repair a torn labrum in his left shoulder, the same shoulder that forced him to miss 20 games during the 2011-12 season. The nagging injury held the 20-year-old to four goals in 40 games.

With talented forwards Taylor Hall and Jordan Eberle -- first-round picks sandwiched around Nugent-Hopkins -- in the mix, it is imperative Nugent-Hopkins is in the middle to feed them the puck.Though   the puck didn't go in as often as he would have liked in 2012-13, Nugent-Hopkins did have 20 assists.

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