Their signing of Phillip Danault has earned the LA Kings some critical attention as one of the top-five best free-agent fits this off-season.
Late last week, TheScore, courtesy of columnist Sean O’Leary, released their five best fits from this year’s free-agent signings. The LA Kings‘ signing of Phillip Danault appeared on the list in the No. 4 slot.
Finishing one spot ahead of the Dallas Stars’ signing of veteran defenseman Ryan Suter, Danault’s signing looks to be a game-changer, so to speak, for the LA Kings.
“Paying more than $5 million for a pivot who scored six goals in a combined 75 regular-season and playoff games this past year seems hasty, but landing Danault was a wise move for the up-and-coming Kings.
Danault is one of the NHL’s premier shutdown centers, as he clearly illustrated during Montreal’s Cinderella run to the Stanley Cup Final this postseason. He can slot in behind Anze Kopitar – another dominant defensive force – on Los Angeles’ depth chart for now and be a perfect placeholder while blue-chip prospects Quinton Byfield and Alex Turcotte find their footing as professionals. Danault is unlikely to wow with his offensive output, but there are many intricate details about the position he knows well and can pass on to his successors.
Depth down the middle of the ice is imperative to success in this league, and with the Kings slotted in a relatively weak Pacific Division, Danault has a real chance to be a difference-maker for Los Angeles this coming season and throughout the early stages of his new contract.”
Like Rob Scuderi and Willie Mitchell in 2009 and 2010, respectively, the silver-and-black may not be getting a superstar in Danault but rest assured that they are receiving a solid defensive presence who, among other things, can take the load off fellow centerman Anze Kopitar. Heck, we don’t even have to go far to look for proof of the 28-year-old’s defensive prowess. His recent postseason play, after all, was integral in helping the Montreal Canadiens reach the 2021 Stanley Cup Final. That included a sweep of the Winnipeg Jets and shutting down a vaunted Vegas Golden Knights roster.
Even though he is known for his top-notch defensive game, though, Danault does bring a bit of an offensive punch to his game.
After scoring five goals and 19 assists last season, the Victoriaville, Que., native celebrated career highs in 2019-20 with 13 goals, 34 assists, and 47 points.
Any way you look at it, though, Phillip Danault’s signing, coupled with the acquisitions of Viktor Arvidsson and Alex Edler, will add intrigue and excitement to an LA Kings hoping to make that next step in 2021-22.
As for the rest of the players on TheScore’s list, Danault trailed the Calgary Flames and Blake Coleman (No. 3), the Edmonton Oilers and Zach Hyman (No. 2), and the New Jersey Devils and Dougie Hamilton (No. 1).