With just 24 games remaining, the LA Kings find themselves in the thick of the playoff race. Coming into Thursday’s game against the San Jose Sharks, Todd McLellan’s group sits in second place in the Pacific Division.
I think it’s fair to say that nobody expected the Kings to be where they are at this point of the season. After some early-season turbulence, the Kings are bearing the fruits of General Manager Rob Blake‘s offseason handiwork.
But the latest injury news regarding Viktor Arvidsson, Brendan Lemieux, and Mikey Anderson comes at a terrible juncture in the 2021-22 season.
Update from Todd McLellan-Not good news re injuries-Lemieux, Arvidsson and Anderson now week-to-week.
— Jim Fox (@JimFox19) March 9, 2022
Blake noted in early January that he wanted to improve the team further, and the trade deadline could be a perfect opportunity to do just that.
“I fully anticipate moves going forward will have impacts on the roster to make us better,” he said.
In light of the potential long-term injury news, the Kings should be proactive and go big-game hunting for another forward. Ideally, I’d target players with term, but that’s not always going to be the case.
Here are six players that would be great trade deadline additions to keep the Kings going.
1. Filip Forsberg
Will he stay, or will he go? The rumors are conflicting, but if the Predators are really shopping Filip Forsberg, the Kings should be all over this. The 27-year-old is a prolific goal-scorer to the tune of 27 goals and 46 points in 43 games this season.
Nashville currently occupies one of the two Wild Card spots in the Western Conference, so Preds GM David Poile could be inclined to hang onto the Swedish forward.
There’s also his contract status. Forsberg will be a UFA at the end of the year, so he would be a rental unless he agrees to an extension to remain in Los Angeles.
The Kings aren’t one player away from making a serious run at another Stanley Cup. That said, if something were to fall into their lap with Forsberg and a potential extension as part of the deal, I think you have to make that move.
2. Jake DeBrusk
I feel like the Jake DeBrusk trade rumors have lasted longer than the COVID-19 pandemic. It seems like a matter of time before Boston moves on from the 25-year-old, and Kings should be familiar with him as he scored a hat trick at the Crypto.com Arena.
He’s averaged just 14:26 TOI this season, but DeBrusk was elevated to the Bruins’ top line in late February and has eight goals in his last nine games.
DeBrusk requested a trade out of Boston back in November, and the trade deadline would be a perfect time to do it. He has 15 goals and 10 assists this season, but unlike Forsberg, DeBrusk will be an RFA this summer – meaning he would not be a rental.
The Bruins are reportedly looking for “equal value” in return, and the LA Kings have the assets to get a deal like this done.
3. Artturi Lehkonen
Things have not gone well in Montreal this season. The Habs have already fired general manager Marc Bergevin (who was subsequently hired in an advisory role in LA) and traded Tyler Toffoli to Calgary. Ben Chiarot would appear to be the next big name to exit. The selloff has begun.
The LA Kings could insert their names into the Artturi Lehkonen sweepstakes. Still just 26 years of age, the Finnish forward has 13 goals and 15 assists for 28 points in 54 games played. He’s on pace to set a career-high in points, playing primarily on the Canadiens’ third line.
Lehkonen has consistently been on the Habs’ top penalty kill unit, and he’s been pretty darn good in that department.
— NHL (@NHL) February 2, 2021
His contract status is also a plus. Lehkonen will be an RFA this offseason and is making just $2.3 million in 2021-22. He still has one year left of arbitration eligibility with a qualifying offer of $2.3 million, so he would be a relatively inexpensive option on the bottom-six forwards.
The reported asking price could be high to acquire Lehkonen, with some outlets indicating a first-round pick and a blue-chip prospect to get this deal across the finish line. Again, the Kings have the assets to do it, but would they?
4. Andrew Copp
Despite taking five of a possible six points in the first week back from the All-Star break, the Winnipeg Jets just haven’t been able to stay consistent this season after an impressive run last year. Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff could sell off a few expiring contracts, starting with Andrew Copp. The 27-year-old will become a UFA in the summer, so he falls into a similar situation as Forsberg.
That said, the former fourth-round pick in 2013 is on pace to set career highs in goals and assists this season. Through 51 games, he has 13 goals and 32 points. Added, Copp has been a factor on the Jets’ power-play, racking up three goals and six assists.
Perhaps an underrated trait in his game, the Ann Arbor, Michigan native is exceptional in the face-off circle, winning 53.8 percent of all draws this year and 51.9 percent during his eight-year career in the National Hockey League.
Again, he’s a risky acquisition, given that he’ll be a rental, but he can help the Kings out right now.
5. Dylan Strome
Like DeBrusk, Dylan Strome has been named in trade rumors for quite some time now. The Chicago Blackhawks have not been good this year, and new General Manager Kyle Davidson could sell off several pieces at the deadline. Strome is one of those guys, but he could be costly to acquire.
Strome’s game has taken off since being elevated to a line and the power-play with Patrick Kane.
In all, the 25-year-old has 15 goals and 15 assists, including five goals on the man advantage.
He’s in the last year of a two-year contract extension. However, Strome is set to become an RFA this summer, so there is some team control to consider here. He is making $3 million this season and would have to receive a $3.6 million qualifying offer from the Blackhawks or any other team.
With their lack of finishing, Strome would give the LA King some much-needed help in that department.
6. Travis Konecny
This isn’t the first time the LA Kings and Travis Konecny have been linked together. Our own Panagiotis Mavridis reported that Los Angeles was interested in acquiring the services of the Flyers’ forward. The rumor was later backed by David Pagnotta of The Fourth Period.
Konecny, 24, was plucked 24th overall in the 2015 NHL Entry draft. He tallied a career-high in points (61) during the 2019-20 season. Despite the Flyers’ struggles this season, the London, Ontario native has nine goals and 24 assists for 33 points — shooting the puck at a career-low 6.2 percent — in 54 games played.
He doesn’t let size limit his net presence. At 5-foot-10, Konecny is frequently in front of the net, which is the type of player that Los Angeles needs.
Travis Konecny is PUMPED after giving the Flyers the lead pic.twitter.com/41guHIgDDk
— Nasty Knuckles (@NastyKnuckles) March 4, 2022
Before the 2019-20 season, Konecny was inked to a six-year, $33 million contract extension, keeping him at a very reasonable $5.5 million AAV through the 2024-25 season. If the Kings want to acquire someone who can help the team right now and for the foreseeable future, Konecny is the guy.
Philly Voice suggests that if the Flyers were to trade Konecny, “he won’t get back a first (round pick), and probably not a second […] A trade of Konecny would likely need to be part of a bigger package to spruce up a deal for a win-now type player in return.”
We’ll see if Rob Blake makes a splash at the trade deadline. Of course, with Carl Gtundstrom and Andreas Athanasiou occupying Lemieux and Arvidsson’s spots in the lineup, some roster shuffling would be required to make the puzzle pieces fit. Not impossible by any means.