Trade Deadline Preview
We’re fast approaching one of the more exciting trade deadlines for the LA Kings in recent memory. After years of trading away players for future assets, Rob Blake is now in a situation to buy. However, is it the right time for LA to sell off prospects or picks for rentals? Should they stand pat? Or could they be sellers? Let’s look at all options on the table for General Manager Rob Blake.
Looking up and down the Kings lineup, there is no secret they could use some offensive help on the blueline, preferentially on the left side. With the immense depth of talent in the pipeline for LA on the right side, a search for a quality left-shot defenseman should be at the top of the list. But why stop there? Adding a scorer to help with the finishing woes of LA could be looked into as well.
Since Jack Eichel‘s eventual move from Buffalo to Las Vegas, Coyotes defenseman Jakob Chychrun has assumed the throne as the next best superstar available to trade, and for a good reason. While there was no doubt Eichel is an elite talent, there was risk associated with acquiring the player. In Chychrun, the risk is far less.
It’s not every day a 23-year-old defenseman on a contract with three years left at a cap hit of only $4.6M becomes available. Teams will most assuredly line up out the door to obtain a piece like that. And the LA Kings should be one of those clubs making the call to Arizona.
If the Kings rebuild were a puzzle, Chychrun is the final piece. It’ll be a hefty price to pay to make the deal, but LA has the assets to make it happen. If Rob Blake can make the trade without including prospects Quinton Byfield, Arthur Kaliyev, or Brandt Clarke, there is no reason why Jakob Chychrun shouldn’t be a King.
If the Kings aren’t depending on Alex Edler returning before the end of the season, and if the Coyotes hold off on a Chychrun deal till the off-season, LA could be looking for a short-term fix for the left side of the blueline. One of the prized rentals available come March 21st is Montreal defenseman Ben Chiarot.
The Kings shouldn’t be a team looking for high-priced rentals this deadline. As they aren’t necessarily in a “win-now” mode. But the connection between LA’s new advisor, Marc Bergevin, and Chiarot raises some eyebrows. At 6’3″, 226 pounds, Chiarot brings size, stability, and veteran leadership to the left side of the blue line that has been missing since Edler went down with an injury. Although, if Montreal is set on a first-round pick to obtain Chiarot, Rob Blake should hang up the phone.
It’s rumored to go along with a left-shot defenseman, the LA Kings are in the market for a scorer as well. As great as it would be to see Fillip Forsberg reunited with Viktor Arvidsson in LA, I get the sense he stays in Nashville. Looking elsewhere around the league, a name that continues to pop up is Patrick Laine.
Laine brings what LA has been missing for some time, natural goal-scoring ability. His career shooting percentage of 15.08% would lead all Kings players. Even though there is concern about his effort, Laine could perfectly complement a young playmaker like Quinton Byfield.
It’s a unique situation for GM Rob Blake and the LA Kings. While they continue their push to the playoffs, some players with expiring contracts could net quality returns. Blake should do his due diligence and get a sense of what those players could yield.
Andreas Athanasiou has registered four goals and four assists in 15 games with the Kings this season, and the results in those games have been impressive for LA. With AA in the lineup, the team is 9-2-4, gaining a point in 13 out of the 15 games. Of course, having a player like Athanasiou around toward the end of the season could help with the playoff push, but moving him could also prove beneficial.
If a team is willing to overpay for AA, LA should take that deal. The loss from the lineup could hurt a bit, but it’ll open a spot for a young prospect like Gabriel Vilardi, Alex Turcotte, or Jaret Anderson-Dolan to get a chance on the team toward the end of the season.
Could this be wishful thinking? Probably. However, it’s not everywhere you can find a veteran blueliner with two Stanley Cups under his belt. Olli Maatta has garnered a lot of criticism in his time with the LA Kings, and rightfully so, as his play has been inconsistent. For a playoff team in desperate need of defensive help, Maatta could be a relatively cheap option for cap-strapped teams. The return for LA won’t be much, a middle to late-round pick, but it also would give more time for surprising young players like Christian Wolanin, Jacob Moverare, or Austin Strand more time in the NHL.