LA Kings Dustin Brown

Photo Credit: Joe Puetz/NHLI via Getty Images

I’m going to get a mailbag up every couple of weeks, asking LA Kings fans to ask me any question they have regarding the team and trying to answer them all. This will be a good way to see where the fanbase is at throughout the rest of the season. Let’s dive right into it.

What do you think the Kings will do at the trade deadline?

I think this one is hard to answer with full certainty at this point, just because we don’t really know where they’ll be at that point. As of right now, the team stands 10-10-4, sitting seven points out of a top-three spot in the Pacific Division, and four points out of a wild card spot. Things haven’t been great for them as of late, with just two wins through their last ten games, but nonetheless, they are still in the hunt at this point, which is more than you can say for a lot of other teams.

Assuming the team is out of a playoff spot by then, I think we can expect some players to be sold off for future assets, but don’t expect anyone with more than one year remaining on their contract to be moved. The Kings are close to contending for the playoffs, and if they don’t make it this year, I’d say it’s almost a certainty that they’re back next season.

One player that intrigues me as a potential player that could be moved is Dustin Brown. He is on the final season of his contract, and at 50 percent retained, he would be a relatively cheap cap option for many contending teams at the deadline. He’s admittedly struggled this season, with just three goals and nine points through 24 games played, but I feel like there’s some potential out there to net a nice return for him.

Andreas Athanasiou, Alexander Edler, and Olli Maatta are other players with one year remaining on their contracts that we could see moved come deadline time, all depth options for contending teams that could bring in some draft capital.

I’m also interested in seeing what the team does with Vladimir Tkachev if he isn’t in the lineup by the deadline. He’s a point-per-game player in the American Hockey League, and he honestly never looked out of place in the NHL, in my opinion, either. It seems like he could be a nice option if he’s given the chance, whether that’s in Los Angeles or elsewhere.

If the team is in a playoff spot, I don’t really think they should look to buy on any rentals. However, if that’s the route they decide to go down, I could see them explore options for a third-line centre, somebody like San Jose Sharks’ forward Nick Bonino, or Ottawa Senators’ Chris Tierney.

To sum up the answer to your question, I’d much more likely bank on them selling this year than buying.

How much longer can Anze Kopitar be a great point producer before he falls off?

LA Kings Anze Kopitar
Photo Credit: Andy Devlin, NHLI via Getty Images

It honestly doesn’t look like the fall-off is coming any time soon for Anze Kopitar. He’s been criminally underrated by east coast hockey fans because of the fact that he plays in a Californian market, but he’s honestly among the top centres in the hockey world right now. He’s great on the powerplay while also being able to produce at even strength. He drives a ton of play and is a great leader for this hockey team.

Analytically, Kopitar has always been a beast. He’s been above replacement level every single season of his career, and although he hasn’t been as good as he was in his prime (obviously), he’s still such a great player in practically every single aspect of the game.

I think Kopitar will be a good bet to hit 60+ points consistently for another couple of years at the very least. He’s only been below that marker once in his entire career in a full season when he had 52 points through 76 games played during the 2016-17 season.

So if you’re a non-Kings fan from the east coast, take note of Kopitar, he deserves some recognition.

Should there be worries with Alex Turcotte when looking at other members of his draft class?

Listen, I can understand the concern from Kings and NHL fans when it comes to Alex Turcotte when you take in what other players in the 2019 draft class of done in that same span. However, I’m not there yet. I still think he’s going to be a terrific player, and for me, it’s just not time to start panicking over a 20-year old centre. Those take time to develop.

Turcotte has nine goals and 31 points through 48 games played with the Ontario Reign in the AHL through the last two seasons and is the only player from the top-10 in 2019 that has yet to play a game in the NHL.

Is this necessarily a bad thing, though? The Kings, as we know, have some of the deepest young cores in the league, with a plethora of young depth players they’re trying to develop. I’d rather see Turcotte develop in the AHL rather than see him stuffed inside the bottom-six and see his production and confidence plummet like Alexis Lafreniere with the New York Rangers.

These are young players we’re talking about. Turcotte is still a future top-six forward in this organization and fits into the team’s plans going forward, and I’m excited to watch his progression unfold. I’d expect him to get some games at the NHL level this season.

Do you see the Kings targeting a player like Johnny Gaudreau or Filip Forsberg this offseason?

Personally, I don’t think Johnny Gaudreau is going to leave Calgary. According to my sources, they spoke in the summer, and he really enjoys the market and wants to stay there, although they haven’t spoken since the season has begun.

Filip Forsberg has always been a player who has interested me as a fit with the Kings. He’s the type of player who I believe would thrive in the Los Angeles market and take his game to another level. Let’s get this straight. I think if he weren’t on the Nashville Predators and having his production held back, we’d be seeing him on top-10 winger lists. He’s that good, and I think whichever team snags him this offseason will make out like bandits.

Forsberg, 27, has 11 goals and 16 points through 15 games played this season, and 189 goals, 401 points through 512 career games played. One thing that the Kings will need to watch out for if they do opt to pursue him this offseason is his injury issues. He’s missed long stretches of time in the past due to injuries, and he has some sort of history with an upper-body injury, potentially in the shoulder area, which can get rough for power forwards like him. He’s a player that you can’t pass up on if you get the chance, but once again, you have to be careful when handing out term to a player like him.

All-in-all, I do expect the Kings to pursue Forsberg if he hits the free-agent market in the summer.

Do you think Viktor Arvidsson is making the impact that the Kings wanted?

I know that Kings fans are kind of split on Arvidsson in Los Angeles. Personally, I think he’s done a good job and has improved from his time in Nashville, and I think he’s got some untapped potential to go even further as well.

I’d like to see more goal scoring from him, however, and we know he’s capable of it as he once even had 34 goals in just 58 games with the Predators back in 2019.

He’s been getting tons of shots to the net, though, and eventually, he’ll start putting more in, so it’s really nothing to worry about. Considering the team got him for just a second and third-round pick, I’d say he’s held up his end of the bargain so far.

Does Drew Doughty‘s contract get bought out?

LA Kings Drew Doughty
Photo Credit: Juan Ocampo/NHLI via Getty Images)

Not this summer, that’s for sure.

Doughty has regressed over the years since signing his $11 million contract that takes him through 2026-27, but he’s actually been among the top defensemen in the NHL this season, with 11 points through 8 games played, and was back in consideration for the Norris Trophy before the knee injury that kept him out for a couple of weeks.

Now, say the Kings did look to buy him out this summer, although it won’t happen, let’s review what it would cost them:

For the 2022-23 season, his cap hit they would pay is $7.4 million, meaning they’d get $3.6 million in cap savings ahead of that season. After that, the team would save $7.6 million annually from the 2023-24 season until the 2026-27 season when Doughty’s contract would have ended.

However, from the 2027-28 season until the 2031-32 season, the Kings would remain working with negative money, -$3.4 million to be exact. This would leave Doughty on the books for Los Angeles until he was 42 years old. It’s just not worth it for the team, especially when he’s actually been playing well this season.

What do you think of the silver buckets?

Hot take, I love them. I think they fit well with the jerseys, unlike the Vegas Golden Knights’ who kind of forced golden helmets onto themselves when it doesn’t match their grey color scheme.

Is Jonathan Quick making a comeback?

Jonathan Quick is most definitely making a comeback, and it’s amazing to watch unfold.

Quick’s last season with positive goals saved above expected (GSAx) was 2017-18, when he tore the league up with an elite 28.27. Since then, he allowed 34.94 goals above expected prior to this season and has failed to post a save percentage above .904 for the last three seasons.

This season, Quick has taken back his throne as the starting goaltender for the Kings, with a 5-5-3 record to go with a .926 save percentage and 7.42 GSAx, which ranks seventh in the entire NHL ahead of the likes of Robin Lehner, Connor Hellebuyck, and Juuse Saros.

It’s unfortunate that these efforts may fall short due to the Kings being on the outside of the playoffs looking in, but it’s a huge motivation booster for Quick and brings back some nostalgic memories for Kings fans.

Final Thoughts

Well, that’s all for the first edition of this Kings’ mailbag series. You guys sent some great questions, so it’s definitely something that I would like to turn into a consistent thing.

Expect to see another one of these articles later on in the month.

JAD sent down, Edler welcomed back, Coaching Carousel, and Other LA Kings Bullets

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