Deadline targets

The NHL trade deadline is two months away, but the highly anticipated NHL event has already sprung a few rumors, including Arizona’s Jakob Chychrun linked to the LA Kings, along with other players around the league like J.T. Miller of the Vancouver Canucks and Marc-Andre Fleury of the Chicago Blackhawks on the trade block.

Personally, I exalt the NHL trade deadline.

Along with the NHL entry draft and the free agency period, it’s my favorite time of the year. It’s a late Christmas, in a way, unless your favorite team overpays on a player that has no positive effect.

The NHL trade deadline invariably has big-name players getting moved around, but a few minor trades are always made. In some cases, these minor trades end up working for teams in progressive ways.

The LA Kings are heading into the month of February looking like a legitimate playoff contender. The trade deadline will be quite provocative for the management group in LA due to the high demand for the Kings’ prospects and picks. The Kings may stock up on a few smaller-name players, or they could go big with a well-known name and acquire a player to make an extra push.

But what if I told you that the LA Kings could acquire some efficient talent with a lot of skill for very cheap? It’s completely possible. You see, there are fantastic undervalued players across the NHL, which their respective teams may look to move if they think it won’t hurt them. If the LA Kings could acquire these smaller name NHL players for cheap, they could hit big and make out like thieves. 

In this article, we’ll go over five players across the NHL who the LA Kings should try and trade for at the trade deadline for a cut-rate price. These players could have breakout seasons in a trice, and taking a cheap yet sturdy gamble on them, could grievously benefit the growing Kings.

1. Johan Larsson, Arizona Coyotes

Position: LW/C

2021-22 Statline: 25-6-9-15

Contract: UFA in 2022, 1.4 Million 

Age: 29

Johan Larsson isn’t the youngest player to be on this list, but the value that he brings to his team is uprightly severe. 

Larsson joined the Arizona Coyotes before the 2020-21 NHL season, where he signed for two years at $1.4 million AAV. At the time of the signing, Larsson was coming off of an 18 point season with the struggling Buffalo Sabres.

The scoring and the point production weren’t something the Sabres were finding to their liking, so they let him walk. They shockingly didn’t realize that they were letting one of the finest defensive forwards leave for cheap in free agency.

In the thick of all the NHL forwards in 19-20, Larsson finished 9th in EVD (Even strength defense goals) with 4.4, 20th in the NHL in defensive play (in decimal form) with 4.3, and 12th in the NHL via xGA (expected goals against) with -0.219.

Larsson was one of the most proficient two-way forwards in the NHL, and nobody gave it any attention. This season, Larsson has continued his career path of being an A-1 defensively minded forward.

He’s been playing all over the lines in Arizona this year and playing against some of the best competition that the Yotes have gone against, and he’s still managed to remain an amazing player throughout. Let’s not forget how the Coyotes are one of the worst teams in the league, too.

Obviously, the offense and his scoring need guidance, but we must recognize that he’s played on some really bad teams in his career. If you can surround the player with mediocre scoring at the least, you’ll be able to get twice as many points from him as he usually puts up.

The price would be relatively moderate as well. The Coyotes will likely sell everything they have at the trade deadline, and there will be interest in Johan Larsson. He’s never played with high-scoring players, and it really intrigues me to see how he actually performs with better players. You can get Larsson for a fourth or even a fifth, and frankly, it’s worth it.

The only question that remains is where he slots into the lineup if he does end up on the Kings. My honest answer: I have no idea. Having him play on the fourth line alongside players like Lemieux and Lizotte could be really beneficial.

But I would like to see him skate on a line with Andreas Athanasiou and Quinton Byfield. I really do believe that he could put up high numbers and impress some people with the right linemates. Hopefully, he finds a great home wherever he lands.

Next: Kyle Capobianco

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