While the rest of the National Hockey League was in the midst of one of the craziest days in the entire calendar year– the trade deadline–LA Kings General Manager Rob Blake began his off-season work a little earlier.
The Kings extended fourth line centerman Blake Lizotte to a two-year contract extension worth $1,675,000 per year. No bonuses and no clauses were attached to the contract, making it a very basic and affordable contract for the LA Kings.
For Blake Lizotte, it’s a highly merited pay raise. He’s proven himself as a productive, speedy, and nimble fourth-line centerman. Playing alongside Brendan Lemieux and Arthur Kaliyev for the majority of the season, he’s found his game and has earned a permanent spot in the lineup.
Despite him being only 5’7″ and 175 pounds, he’s been one of the toughest members of the LA Kings this season. His size allows him to be a quick skater with great edges, but it also makes the opponent underestimate the power that Lizotte actually carries. Blake has 61 hits for the season, and yet he’s drawn one more penalty (15) than he’s taken (14).
Lizotte is the little engine who could because he’s never afraid to step up to a bigger player to defend his teammates. He’s never scared to make a hit to make a play, either. When he’s at his best, he can dance through Tampa Bay’s defense with ease, seen in this goal.
Blake Lizotte is 5’8″. Blake Lizotte is in the NHL because he plays with PASSION.— The Hockey Think Tank (@HockeyThinkTank) January 19, 2022
The energy on this goal is infectious. The relentless forecheck. Gets right back up after getting knocked down. The celebration. It’s unreal.
Kids…if you want to make it…play with passion. pic.twitter.com/xvR7TXqwdn
While his points may not show it, Lizotte is the definition of the perfect bottom-six forward. He’s always fast on his feet, he plays without hesitation, and he’s always got his head up to create a play. He powers through the competition no matter how hard it is and plays with endless energy, and it fires up the team as well as LA Kings fans.
It feels like every team should have a Blake Lizotte on their roster. His ability to dance his way through the offensive zone using his quick hands let him score some beautiful goals like this one against the Carolina Hurricanes:
He’s improved tremendously year after year. Arriving in LA as an NCAA free agency signing, he’s managed to make LA his home. His tenacity and aggressiveness lets him seem so much bigger and stronger than 5’7, and it makes him such a joy to watch every year.
Analytically, he’s seen major improvements from the 2020-21 NHL season, seeing how his GAR (goals above replacement) has increased by 3 entire points.
Clearly, the 2020-21 NHL season saw him plummet quite a bit from his previous season of 2.1 GAR, but that’s why he was signed to a one-year extension that carried an AAV of $800,000. It was the last chance at playing up with the Kings, and Lizotte used that opportunity eminently. Playing the best season of his entire career at 24, he’s tallied 18 points and eight goals in 59 games this season.
His hustle is completely unmatched, and it pays off in heated moments like these:
Newly re-signed Blake Lizotte protects the puck and finds Trevor Moore for the easy tap-in SHORTY! Kings take a three goal lead in the first half of the first period!#GoKingsGo pic.twitter.com/IG2YjMxoXk— Hockey Daily 365 (@HockeyDaily365) March 23, 2022
Having a fourth-liner that can pull off these moves on the penalty kill is a huge plus for the LA Kings, considering how much they’ve struggled on the penalty kill this season. That goal once again showed us that his size doesn’t matter. In fact, it only helps him. Bigger players would look at him and think that they’ve got an easy competitor, and out of nowhere, Lizotte would surprise them by using his strength and alacrity.
Putting up 23 points in 65 games in his rookie season on a struggling LA Kings roster solidified his role as the fourth-line center. The next season wasn’t as good, as he had 10 points in 44 games. At this point, Kings fans were wondering where he would even fit into the lineup. Nobody had full confidence, and it seemed like it was Blake Lizotte against the world.
Lizotte was determined to become a better player and he wanted to prove everyone wrong, so he used it as motivation. This year, he’s been the staple of the fourth line. It’s no longer a debate that Lizotte should stay on the team, especially after how he became one of the key members of LA’s identity line. The grit, the speed, and the hustle were one of the biggest parts of that line when healthy, and he brings all three of those attributes every single game.
Blake Lizotte has undoubtedly earned his new contract, and with him playing in the bottom six for the LA Kings for the next two years, he’ll continue to bring that same level of excitement and speediness. For a smidge under $1.7 million dollars, it’s a very fair and a very team-friendly contract for the perfect bottom-six forward.