LA Kings Alex Turcotte

The New Year’s. The time when resolutions that will be broken in a few weeks are made, and the hopes of a better year than the year prior initiate. The new year is seen as a holiday to celebrate the start of a new calendar year, a vaguely new era to life. Resolutions are made in hopes of creating a new and clean conscience in order to create a happier, healthier, and convalescent lifestyle.

For the LA Kings, 2021 brought an agonizing season that inevitably ended in the Kings whiffing on their playoff hope. But, it also brought in future and rosiness with Brandt Clarke, Phillip Danault, and other great players that have made the Kings better now, if not later in the long run.

As 2021 ends, we go into 2022 hoping that the Kings make that much-needed push for the playoffs that we oh-so-dearly want them to. Although the best we can do as fans is keep our fingers crossed, there are steps that the LA Kings can take to become a better team as a whole.

Today, we will go over four new year’s resolutions that the LA Kings should have going into 2022.

1. Fix the inconsistent powerplay

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

The powerplay has had so many different looks all season so far. In one game, the players score three or four goals and use it to their advantage, and the next, they go scoreless.

The Kings currently rank 25th in the NHL with a 16.50% powerplay conversion rate. That’s quite lousy. With offensive threats like Adrian Kempe, Alex Iafallo, Viktor Arvidsson, Drew Doughty, and Anze Kopitar, you’d expect the Kings to be able to convert on the powerplay and score some goals. 

Do you know what makes this even more troubling? It’s the fact that the KIngs are third in the entire league for penalties drawn with 103. The only other teams above LA are the Colorado Avalanche and the Vancouver Canucks. The powerplay isn’t alive; it isn’t scoring. 

The production on the powerplay has been fallacious and grim. We know what kind of talent we’re working with here, so why not score some goals? The powerplay really needs to get going here this year because if the Kings want to win games, they need a functioning powerplay. Considering the Kings have been so lucky with their penalties drawn for, the PP should be permitted as the moneymaker. Instead, it’s been slowly killing the team.

There are gobs of issues that run amok the supposedly-said moneymaker, and there are, in fact, solutions for those globs of issues. The first is the most obvious: maybe spend some extra time working on the powerplay in the practices. That doesn’t simply mean throwing the guys out there and making a five-star Wolfgang Puck dinner out of a can of sardines; instead, it means trying new strategies.

The powerplay operates under countless different styles.

The last strategy didn’t work, and that means it’s time to move on from that monstrosity and throw out other ideas onto the table. Anything and everything should be considered. Another idea is to shake up the players on the powerplay and see if other players perform better in the previous players’ positions. You never know with hockey players. Even the most questionable fourth-liners could be pure profit on the powerplay. 

The powerplay has been less power and more light for the LA Kings this season, and a new look should be taken into consideration heading into the new year.

2. A way to deal with the finishing

The Kings have had some of the worst scoring luck for a while. Before getting into the deeper part of why this team isn’t actually scoring goals, let’s just get a feel for how painful it has been when it comes to finding the back of the net. 

The Kings currently rank fifth in the NHL for shots per game with 34.47. They sit at the top with some strong teams such as the Boston Bruins, the Florida Panthers, the Pittsburgh Penguins, and the Calgary Flames. The difference between the Kings and the other four teams is that the other four teams are scoring the most goals in the NHL while the Kings do not put pucks into the opposing team’s net. 

The Kings are sixth-worst last – or better yet, 27th – in the NHL with 2.59 goals per game. For the sake of argument, let’s round that up to 3. Three goals a game isn’t going to win you many games, especially against powerhouses like Tampa and Carolina. 

Thankfully, the Kings are riding high on the powerhouse of prime Jonathan Quick, who has kept the door mostly shut all season long. Thanks to him, and a little bit of credit to players like Alex Edler and Mikey Anderson, the Kings sit at a 2.65 team GAA. A GSF/60 higher than a GAF/60 is always a good sign. It means that the team is letting in fewer goals than they’re scoring.

But the Kings have a higher GAA than GPG. Going back to the GSF/60, LA rests 27th in the league. Some teams around that spot in the NHL include the San Jose Sharks, the Vancouver Canucks, the Montreal Canadiens, and the New York Islanders. With all due respect to the other teams, those are teams you don’t want to be seen around.

The Kings are 31st out of 32 teams in the league in terms of goals scored above expected with -19.1, which is abominable for a team that was supposed to take the extra step towards the playoffs. The Kings need to be scoring more than just two to three goals a game if they want to be seen as serious playoff contenders because I’m honestly not sure how much longer 35-year-old Jonathan Quick can keep bailing this team out. Quick, by the way, has looked astonishing this season.

3. #PlayTheKids

LA Kings Alex Turcotte
Photo Credit: Juan Ocampo/NHLI via Getty Images

The hashtag that Hockey Royalty loves and uses so much – and has a shirt for (HERE) – we must play the kids that have been drafted and/or signed. For a couple of years now, Kings fans have been pushing and praying that the young players finally get a chance to show off their skills and talents in the NHL.

We have already received a few young guns as regular roster players on the squad, such as Tobias Bjornfot and Arthur Kaliyev. Although we are grateful to see these guys up in the big leagues, some don’t settle. 

Quinton Byfield is a given. In the pre-season, he suffered a horrendous ankle injury, recovered, and looked to have a chance in the NHL. Then got placed into the COVID protocol. No complaints there. But players like Alex Turcotte, Vladimir Tkachev, and Gabriel Vilardi deserve to have better looks in the NHL than they currently do.

As of now, they have all played at least one game, but that still shouldn’t be enough. Turcotte played two games – in which he looked terrific, by the way – whereas Vilardi played in a shortened season, and Tkachev only got four games in at the start of this season.

These players deserve better, and they shouldn’t be in the AHL or the press box. The particular skaters are young and talented, and they should be playing in the NHL. Tkachev definitely deserved better, especially after a limited sample size. As of now, Tkachev has 18 whopping points in 15 games in the AHL. He was called up to the Kings on the 30th but has yet to play.

Turcotte, who is now 20, was just recently recalled to the NHL roster. While his buddies and fellow teammates are already playing much bigger roles in the National Hockey League, Turcotte is only now dipping his toe into the pool. Even though we live in the present, and this is what we have to deal with, he should’ve gotten a chance to play earlier on. Admittedly so, injuries have prolonged his call-up, though.

Gabriel Vilardi is expressly a different story. He got a small chance to show off in the 2019-20 season before COVID ruined the party, but he got to showcase himself as a full-time roster player in the 2020-21 season. Although it was a shortened year, and Vilardi didn’t play in every game, he got a chance. This season has been quite awkward, to say the least. Vilardi’s stock was expected to skyrocket, but after seven games and one goal, he was sent off into the shadows and depths of the Ontario Reign.

Over-dramatizing for the romanticized for the purpose to express the LA Kings prospect system, obviously. Since being sent down, Vilardi has had nine points in 10 games and has looked like an NHLer. Yet that’s not what he’s getting played as.

It is time to play the younger players because frankly if you want to finally make a push for the postseason, the Kings have to play the prospects that they have to realistically build around the future.

4. Find a first-line LD

This has been quite an issue for a while with the Kings now, and that issue is the empty, endless void of a shadow that Jake Muzzin once filled. The LA Kings have Drew Doughty on the right side, who is having a Norris-deserving season, and they also have Mikey Anderson playing on his side.

Anderson has been a fantastic shutdown guy who’s given Drew the opportunity to articulate his offensive ingenuity, but he isn’t a first-line worthy defenseman, if we’re being honest. 

The Kings went out in free agency and signed Alex Edler, which was a great addition. Edler was playing some of his best hockey in years, and that all got cut short after an awful injury that occurred on December 11th against the Minnesota Wild. Since then, the defense has really felt the impact of missing the eagle.

That should’ve been the red flag to GM Rob Blake that the Kings were going to need a new left-handed defenseman, and they might need one quick. That move still hasn’t happened, and who knows how much longer the team will go without one. Thankfully, there are a few options out there to fill that spot. One name that comes up, especially recently, is Arizona’s star and best player, Jakob Chychrun.

Elliotte Friedman reported that the Coyotes were willing to move on from him.

This is a perfect opportunity for the Kings. They undoubtedly have all the tools and assets to acquire him from the Coyotes. Chychrun is also only 23, making him another young player to build around. He’s also on an unbelievably cheap deal that pays him 4.6 million AAV until the 2024-25 season. He’s the perfect fit; all that’s left is to trade for him.

Even if it may not be Chychrun is specific, the Kings urgently need a first-line LD, and that’s why inheriting a solid one to play alongside Doughty is one of the resolutions.

That concludes the four new year’s resolutions for the LA Kings as a team and as an organization heading into 2022. This upcoming year will hopefully be much more fun and exciting than these last couple of years have been. Hopefully, the LA Kings continue to take extra steps to become a better team so that making the playoffs and winning the cup happens sooner than later. 

Happy New Year, Kings fans!

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