My Kings pick is also somewhat motivated by history, as the Kings are positioned as the only team who could win the Cup this year without it feeling pretty cheap. Like, imagine if you're, say, the St. Louis Blues --- would you want the first Cup in your franchise's history to come in a 48-game Coles Note of a season? The answer to that is yes, obviously of course they would, they want to finally win a frickin' championship, but I think everyone else would put a mental asterisk* on this achievement. And god help us all if the Leafs somehow won a Cup this season; if anything, this would give the haters even more ammo.
* = This is the first time I've ever put an asterisk after the actual word 'asterisk.' Anyway, sports history has been kind to winners of other lockout-shortened seasons since those champions ended up having mini-dynasties. Nobody looks down on the Devils' 1994-95 Stanley Cup since they won two more Cups in the next decade, and nobody derides the Spurs' 1999 NBA title since that was but the first of four championships in an eight-year span. The Heat's championship last year, as well, was hailed both since a) people decided they liked LeBron again after ripping hiim mercilessly for the previous three years and b) people figure Miami is good for at least another title or two as long as LeBron in the fold. With this in mind, maybe we should project this year's Stanley Cup winner as hockey's best team of the 10's.
Fortunately, I think we can safely write off the Leafs, Oilers and any other mediocre club whose fans think that this lockout season will be so crazy and unpredictable that an underachieving team could sneak into the playoffs and go on a run. It's not going to be THAT unpredictable. The best teams on paper will likely still be the best teams and one of the ten preseason favourites will end up with the Cup. While something like a Blue Jackets/Maple Leafs final would be insane enough to stoke the dying embers of my Leafs fandom, I think we'd also agree that such a result would kill whatever credibility this season (and really, the NHL) has left.