It's that old cliche: You build through the draft.
And we've seen it again and again since the salary cap came in: Teams winning the Stanley Cup with key players playing on cheap contracts, many of them entry level deals.
Carolina started the trend in 2006 with Cam Ward (that year's MVP) and Eric Staal both still on their first contracts, but they were followed by Anaheim (Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry), Detroit (all but four forwards with a cap hit under $2-million), Pittsburgh (Evgeni Malkin, Jordan Staal and Kris Letang), Chicago (Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane) and Boston (Tyler Seguin).
The Los Angeles Kings are pegged by many as the current Cup favourites after rolling through the first three rounds in just 14 games, but they don't really have any high profile players playing on those contracts. (Slava Voynov is their best skater on an entry level deal.)
What the Kings do have, however, is a ton of young, homegrown talent. This is the league's second youngest team, led by a cast that includes only two players older than 29 (Rob Scuderi and Willie Mitchell).
Not surprisingly, those two are the only players on the roster brought in as unrestricted free agents, as GM Dean Lombardi has mainly relied on draft picks and trades to keep his team young and on the rise.
First round picks have certainly played a role, with Dustin Brown, Anze Kopitar and Drew Doughty all taken in the top half of the opening round in the last 10 years.
More impressively, the Kings have drafted one superstar in the third round and then filled out their depth with later round picks: Jonathan Quick being the star and Voynov, Dwight King, Kyle Clifford, Alec Martinez and others on the edges of the roster.
Then there are all the high profile trades, led by the deals bringing in Mike Richards last summer and Jeff Carter at the trade deadline (both of which involved moving out some high draft picks in the process).
Here's a full breakdown of what players were acquired by which method:
First round pick: Brown (2003), Kopitar (2005), Doughty (2008), Bernier (2006), Lewis (2006)
Other draft pick: Quick (2005), Voynov (2008), King (2007), Clifford (2009), Martinez (2007), Nolan (2009), Loktionov (2008)
Trades: Richards (2011), Williams (2009), Penner (2011), Carter (2012), Stoll (2008), Greene (2008), Richardson (2008), Fraser (2011)
Free agency: Scuderi (2009), Mitchell (2010)
Now, building through the draft isn't the only way to win, as last year's Bruins team had only five of their own players on it.
This was my breakdown of how that team was constructed after they won last June.Report Typo/Error