It’s Time for the LA Kings to Call in the Cavalry
The dreaded injury bug has finally arrived for the LA Kings.
As Los Angeles tries to hold their second-place spot in the Pacific Division, injuries are beginning to pile up on the roster.
On Friday, Brendan Lemieux went down after an awkward hit. On Sunday, Viktor Arvidsson caught an edge and left the game with what seemed to be a knee injury. Against Boston on Monday, Mikey Anderson left the game with an upper-body injury from an odd defensive hit from Brad Marchand.
With three key roster players going down with injuries, it may be time for the Kings to look at Ontario for call-ups. Let’s talk about who those players would be.
Andersson is first on the list simply because he is rumored to be back with the Kings for their game on Thursday against San Jose. Andersson’s conditioning stint has been productive, to say the least. He has played three games of conditioning in Ontario, scoring five goals in the process.
Andersson found a place on the Kings roster for 13 games so far this season, tallying a singular assist. Unfortunately, he seemed to have natural chemistry with Gabriel Vilardi and Vladimir Tkachyev in the preseason, but neither of them has been able to crack the roster so far. This conditioning stint could be the turning point for his season and get him a workable spot on the LA Kings roster.
Has there been any group of writers calling for Vilardi to play with the LA Kings more than Hockey Royalty (HERE)? Injuries and underperformance have plagued Vilardi throughout his young NHL career.
The 11th overall pick of the 2017 draft was the first piece in the rebuild to be drafted, but a back injury delayed his development. After just seven games this season with the Kings, the decision was made to send him down to Ontario to get his game back and learn to play on the wing. To call this a good decision would be a criminal understatement.
Vilardi has been stunning on the wing for the Reign this season, scoring 15 goals and amassing 37 points in 36 games; a point a game player if there ever was one. Vilardi can translate this fantastic play to the NHL if he can find some chemistry.
Watching him play on a line with Danault and Moore could be interesting, keeping the speed on that line and maybe finding a way to redistribute some of the scoring.
I mean, why not? Tynan has been absolutely dominant in the AHL this season, chasing assist records all season. Tynan may be able to dish the puck well on the third line, perhaps giving Kaliyev some time on the second line to give him more scoring opportunities.
While Tynan is not, by any means, an NHL player, perhaps some time on the third line with Byfield could create some different chemistry and identity for the Kings relatively quiet third line.
BLUE LINE BACK UP
The easy pick here is Austin Strand. He is a solid blueliner and has been very good this year defensively. Strand had a four-game cup of coffee this season with the LA Kings, collecting two assists.
His Corsi percentage through those four games was 60.7%, showing good possession in 5-on-5 situations. With the Kings being a team thriving during even-strength play, Strand could solidify the blue line quickly and capably.
Rookie sensation Jordan Spence could be exactly what the LA Kings need right now. Spence doesn’t play on the left side, which is the hole that Anderson’s injury will open, but he could really jump-start the offense for Los Angeles during the stretch run.
After his 13-game point streak (2-16), he climbed to 5th place in the AHL in Rookie scoring. He holds a +19 rating for the year, and 22 of his total 36 assists have come on the power play.
Los Angeles is currently running a 16.4% conversion rate on the power play. The LA Kings are scoring less than half a power-play goal per game per NHL.com and could really use a boost on the man advantage.