The time to invest in Viktor Arvidsson is now.
After stringing two wins together, the LA Kings now find themselves firmly in the playoff race. While it is still a bit early, the Kings will need to elevate their scoring output of 2.70 G/GP (27th in the NHL) to continue their rise in the standings. With Drew Doughty among the defensive leaders in points per game and Adrian Kempe amid a breakout season, Head Coach Todd McLellan will be looking toward newcomer Viktor Arvidsson to help with some of those scoring woes.
And luckily for LA, if past analytics tell us anything, Arvidsson should be in line for a big second half of the season.
After being acquired early in the offseason for a couple of draft picks, Arvidsson was the main offensive threat added to a LA Kings roster in dire need of more scoring.
Missing multiple games early in November, Todd McLellan mentioned in his postgame presser after the LA Kings 2-1 shootout win over the Vancouver Canucks last Thursday that it has taken the 28-year-old out of Skellefteå, Sweden, a little time to get acclimated to his new “family.”
“(Arvidsson’s) a player that’s become part of our family here. It sometimes takes a while, especially when you’ve only been in one other organization, and you come to a new team. But he’s obviously aware of his surroundings. And now he’s a King.”
When the LA Kings acquired Viktor Arvidsson from the Nashville Predators, I didn’t get the sense General Manager Rob Blake viewed him as the savior for the Kings scoring woes. But more of much-needed depth scoring with the hope of returning to the 20+ goal plateau.
Being somewhat snakebitten to start the year and missing a few games due to COVID-19 protocol, the winger has eight goals in 26 games. A little lower than his 0.33 G/GP total than he was accustomed to with the Predators. However, looking further into the numbers, there is reason to anticipate a big rest of the season.
Looking into the numbers
Analytically, Arvidsson is having a career year. His 1.12 expected goals per 60 minutes during 5v5 play, according to MoneyPuck.com, is a career-high. The problem lies in — and tell me if you’ve heard this before — finishing.
Other than his initial six games in the NHL during the 2014-15 season, his shooting percentage is currently at the lowest of his career at 4.29 during 5v5 play. Well below his career average of 11.7%.
Now you may look at this graph and think, well, that’s been the modus operandi of the LA Kings since the beginning of time. All quantity and no quality. And with Viktor getting more looks on the net than ever before in his career with 12 shots per 60 minutes, that argument could be justified. But the quality is there as well.
He is currently seeing the second-highest rate of high danger opportunities in his career at 4.8 per 60 minutes during 5v5 play, according to NaturalStatTrick. Just shy of his career-high of 4.97 during the 2018-19 season. The same year he scored 34 goals in 58 games.
For the LA Kings to continue their push to return to the playoffs, they’ll have to lean a little more on Arvidsson, the team leader in on-ice expected goals for at 57.3%, according to MoneyPuck, to convert more of his scoring opportunities. And if he can find that finishing ability, he utilized in Nashville, look for more goals to come off his stick during the rest of the year.
I would not be surprised to see him finish close to the 30-goal plateau.