They say no news is good news, which means after the 2016 Los Angeles Kings made some poor personnel decisions, got eliminated from the playoffs, and watched the San Jose Sharks tear through the Western Conference, a couple of quiet weeks (and a Brayden McNabb re-signing with few complications) were just what the doctor ordered. However, since the end of last week, LA has gotten a boost in a number of ways. Let's review!
The San Jose Sharks did not win the Stanley Cup
Admittedly, we were a little bit nervous after the Sharks survived the Nashville Predators and overwhelmed the St. Louis Blues to reach their first Stanley Cup Final. Hope was provided in the form of a Pittsburgh Penguins team who had been similarly great down the stretch and in the postseason, and exhibited similar possession dominance throughout the season. (By a number of measures, LA was the only team whose combination of scoring chance differential and shot attempt differential could match the two finalists.)
Neither the Anaheim Ducks nor the Los Angeles Kings had triumphed in their first Final, though, and neither did San Jose. Pittsburgh won it all in six games, and even better, San Jose's best player throughout the series was former LA backup Martin Jones. So no goalie-associated heartache, either! (And if you're mad about letting Jones get away, remember that Quick actually had a slightly higher save percentage this year. Jones had a great playoffs, but Quick's done that before!)
The Anaheim Ducks hired Randy Carlyle
When Anaheim fired Bruce Boudreau following yet another Game 7 exit, we wondered if the Ducks had a plan. As the offseason dragged on, though, it became apparent that the Ducks were considering numerous options, and competing with other NHL teams for some of them. Who was it, though? Randy Carlyle and Mike Yeo were certainly big-name options, with other former head coaches such as Rick Bowness, Dallas Eakins, and current assistant Paul MacLean potentially on the table. Eventually, it was down to Carlyle, Bowness, and former Duck Travis Green, and they went with our preferred option.
Sure, Carlyle won a Stanley Cup in his second season in Anaheim. Sure, he did it with a newly acquired Chris Pronger alongside Scott Niedermayer, but he won a Stanley Cup! Unfortunately, he's never reached those heights again, and he was fired from both the Anaheim Ducks and the Toronto Maple Leafs after sending both into the depths of the National Hockey League (and, especially, the Corsi Hockey League). Carlyle's hire is baffling, and while he probably won't drag an excellent Anaheim squad out of the playoffs, it's great news for LA.
The Vancouver Canucks hired Dan Cloutier
He might be a great goaltending coach, for all I know, but that doesn't make this less hilarious.
No One Else Hired Davis Payne or John Stevens
I suppose this is a "no news is good news" item, but given that one of these two will probably be the next coach of the Los Angeles Kings when Darryl Sutter retires, it's good that Darryl retained both of his experienced assistants. Special teams was above-average, if not spectacular, this season, and the Kings' systems obviously worked quite well this season. And Dean Lombardi wasn't close to losing either guy.
We Hit Both Cup Anniversaries
And even if you missed the anniversaries of June 11, 2012, and June 13, 2014, you still have plenty of time to watch highlights of both before the draft and free agency. (It's a shame that June 15, 2016 didn't continue the mathematical trend, though.)
The Sharks Aren't Going to Have a Cup Anniversary Next Summer
I can't stress this enough.
Milan Lucic Didn't Sign a 40 Million Dollar Contract
This is also "no news is good news." Losing Lucic would be a blow to LA's lineup, but signing him to an excessive deal would arguably be worse. Given our poll results, there's a lot of agreement on that front, and LA so far hasn't panicked in their dealings with Lucic. As a reminder, the last time the Kings signed a major pending UFA in June, they waited until June 25, so this certainly isn't over. It does look increasingly likely that LA won't break the bank for Lucic, though.
Las Vegas is Getting an NHL Team, Definitely
It's just about official! There are a lot of upsides to the expected presence of a Las Vegas NHL team in 2017-18. Travel time should be reduced. As per Elliotte Friedman, LA will get a payout (see item 26) because Vegas is currently in their broadcasting territory. You can make an excuse to go to Vegas for hockey even if you miss Frozen Fury. Vegas might take Dustin Brown's contract off of the Kings' hands. And at least for the first few seasons, LA has an expansion team to dominate four or five times a year. All in all, this should help the Kings, and at the very least, it'll be a fun little experiment to watch.
Jeff Carter's Gonna Be a Dad!
Hopefully, more adorable infant-in-Stanley-Cup pics are on the horizon.