Sensational rookie Drew Doughty came back with more muscle and confidence and will step up offensively, while Scuderi will stabilize things defensively. Winger Ryan Smyth has a lot of miles on him but his aggressiveness around the net is a huge asset. The Kings haven't been to the playoffs since 2002, when Brown was a 17-year-old kid in Ithaca, N.Y., but he and they might finally reach the Promised Land.
2008-09 record: 36-35-11=83 points.
Power play: 15.4% (27th). Penalty killing: 78.6% (24th).
Leading scorer: Mike Ribeiro, 22-56.
Outlook: Longtime coach Dave Tippett was fired, taking the fall for the mistakes of co-general managers Brett Hull and Les Jackson and serious injuries suffered by Brenden Morrow, Jere Lehtinen and Sergei Zubov. New GM Joe Nieuwendyk hired Marc Crawford, who was impatient and ineffective working with the Kings' young talent a few years ago. Maybe not the best choice. But there's a decent mix of proven talent (Ribeiro, Morrow, Brad Richards, goalie Marty Turco and gallant, 39-year-old Mike Modano) and tremendous potential. Right wing Loui Eriksson (36 goals, 63 points) is fun to watch.
2008-09 record: 38-35-9=85 points.
Power play: 16.9% (22nd). Penalty killing: 77.5% (27th).
Leading scorer: Ales Hemsky, 23-43.
Outlook: Heatley didn't want to be traded there, frustrating their effort to shake things up in the locker room after they shook out their entire coaching staff. The team that Pat Quinn inherits from Craig MacTavish has a skillful and mobile defense and a good deal of speed up front but no snipers, though former King Patrick O'Sullivan had a strong preseason. Maybe Quinn, coaching again at 66 after a three-year absence from the NHL, can motivate the hulking but inconsistent Dustin Penner. No other coach has been able to do that on a consistent basis.
2008-09 record: 40-34-8=88 points.
Power play: 15.7% (tie 25th). Penalty killing: 82.5% (10th).
Leading scorer: J.P. Dumont, 16-49.
Outlook: They're usually small but fast and competitive and built around an admirable defense corps that moves the puck exceptionally well. That will be true again this season, though they're hoping for big things from 2008 first-round pick Colin Wilson and bigger things from David Legwand than last season's 20 goals and 42 points. They're well coached and managed -- Barry Trotz and David Poile have had their jobs since the start, in 1998 -- but they can't spend enough to get the depth and scoring that might make them a perennial playoff team.
2008-09 record: 40-33-9=89 points.
Power play: 20.1% (ninth). Penalty killing: 87.6% (second).
Leading scorer: Mikko Koivu, 20-47.
Helene Elliott's NHL team-by-team preview
Penguins have lost key players and Flyers gained defenseman Chris Pronger. Ducks should make playoffs. Kings are on the bubble.
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