LOS ANGELES -- The Kings are the Stanley Cup champions, which means one thing is nearly certain. We can rule them out for a championship in 2013. The NHL hasn't seen a back-to-back champ since the Red Wings pulled it off in 1997 and 1998.
In the salary-cap era, it's even harder. Parity is at an all-time high, as Los Angeles proved, eking into the playoffs as the No. 8 seed, then dominating once it got there.
The one thing Los Angeles has going for it is that GM Dean Lombardi has constructed a team with staying power. Nearly every significant contributor is all but assured to return next season, and the Kings' emergence could end up making Los Angeles an attractive destination for a free agent like Zach Parise.
It's never too early to look ahead at the favorites to win it all next season. Here's my list of five:
1. Boston Bruins -- When GM Peter Chiarelli met with his players after the Bruins were knocked out of the playoffs, the feedback he heard was consistent. These players felt they had unfinished business after dominating at times during the regular season. That's one of the reasons he'll bring back a nearly identical group to start next season, minus the starting goalie.
"I definitely will give this group another run. We've been trying to keep the group together," Chiarelli said during a Monday afternoon chat. "One of the things that stood out in the playoffs, the margin of victory is very slight. We went through that the year before. Absolutely, we want to give this group another run."
To read Craig Custance's full list of 2013 Stanley Cup favorites, you must be an ESPN Insider.