With the season for the LA Kings over, we look back and the progress and regression of the roster in a series that will cover the Kings roster by position.
This series will be going over the season that was and what can be done to improve for the 2022-23 season as we start with the left-wingers.
Adrian Kempe had the best season outside of anyone named Anze Kopitar. Kempe had a breakout season, setting a career-high in goals. His persistence paid off by seeing all of this season on the top line with Kopitar. He showed the rest of the league what he is capable of and improved his overall game to be a threat whenever he is on the ice.
Kempe was all over the ice in the 21-22 season, using his speed to create offense and chances for himself and his teammates. Kempe got into scoring areas where he was quite dangerous by using his shot more than in previous seasons. Kempe’s production was brought on by him playing with Kopitar, where he was fed the puck to do what he does best and showcase his talents.
With that said, he needs to work on being a little more consistent before next season. Yes, he had a career year, but he also had droughts where he did nothing offensively. He could, in the future, be a Kopitar type where he leads the team in points. He could also use his wicked wrist shot on the powerplay more. Kemp needs to work on shooting more because he will be counted on as one of the offensive leaders next season.
Look for Kempe to be on the top line again next season. He showed he can produce offensively and, unless a big name is brought in, will be looked at to do the same thing again. He looked comfortable on the top line and could produce more offensively if put in the same situation. Kempe is a restricted free agent this offseason and will be in line for a pay raise based on this season’s performance.
Overall Grade: A
Andreas Athanasiou had a weird year for Los Angeles. Although productive, he spent most of the year injured or a healthy scratch, causing him to be in and out of the lineup. He did play most of the playoff games but did not stand out offensively. When Athanasiou was in the lineup, he produced offensively as he created chances and took advantage of his speed to get behind the defenses. He had games where he looked impressive and others where he looked invisible.
If he is to return to Los Angeles next season, he has work to do. Athanasiou needs to get better at getting into the scoring areas and getting his teammates involved. His defense needs to be better as well. He also needs improvement on his consistency, both on offense and defense. Too many gaps where he does not produce a point and is the last player on defense.
Look for Athanasiou on a different team next season. He would be welcomed back at the right deal is reached, but he most likely wants to be a part of a team that could use him to his full potential. The LA Kings have too many young players waiting in the wings, so they will likely move on.
Overall Grade: C
Trevor Moore had one of the better seasons by any Kings player this season. Moore, the true heart and soul of the team, had an offensive season well above expectations. He fit perfectly on the second line with center Philip Danault and never took a shift off. A solid, all-around season for Moore.
Moore may be one of the smaller players for the LA Kings, but he makes up for that by having a good cycle game and is a bulldog on the penalty kill. His speed is his best asset, using that trait to get in position to score timely, important goals.
Although Moore had a good season, he could learn to use his shot more. He has a sneaky wrist shot that he does not use enough, but it could net him a 25-goal season if used properly. Next season, look for Moore to remain in the top six as a critical part of the Kings going forward.
He can continue to be counted on for secondary scoring.
Overall Grade: A
Arvidsson was one of the triggermen on the powerplay and used his veteran status to help out the young guys. However, with that being said, the last two weeks for Arvidsson have been a mystery until now, learning that he needs surgery for a herniated disc.
Arvidsson came to the LA Kings as a player who could help the team offensively and mentor the younger talent. Arvidsson developed a good offensive zone game next to Danault and produced as a top-six player. He was not shy about using his shot on the power play, often resulting in good chances. He was improved on the back-check, breaking up good chances the other way.
One thing Arvidsson could do more of next season is to shoot more. He has a great shot, but he does not use it enough. He has a dynamic shot that finds holes and creates chances for his teammates. Arvidsson could be lethal on the powerplay if used in the right situation.
Expect Arvidsson to be paired with Danault once again next season on the second line. They had chemistry and were part of one of the better lines the LA Kings had last season. If he is used as the sole triggerman on the powerplay, look for his production to increase and his minutes on the second line if coach Todd McLellan sees them as the number one line.
Overall Grade: B
Alex Iafallo had a sluggish season, plain and simple. His offensive production was down and, at times, non-existent. He was on the top line and given every opportunity to succeed and produce offense, but it never happened. His season was average at best.
Although he struggled, he had a good work ethic regardless of the line he was on. His neutral zone and defensive game responsibilities were decent all season, making up for his lack of production. Iafallo found ways to create his shot and chances.
Looking ahead to the 2022-23 season, he needs to get back to shooting the puck if he wants to produce offensively. He also needs to get better at board battles, losing them due to not being aggressive enough. Iafallo could work on his puck pursuit as well.
Coming into next season, he should be offensively hungry and ready to have a better season. He will likely be paired on the third line, which could include center Quinton Byfield. If he can work on his shot selection, he could have a bounce back season, and working on his speed could also be helpful come next season.
Overall Grade: C
Lemieux was another Kings player that was in and out of the lineup. He was average at best and never seemed to fit right in. Lemieux did not play to his full capabilities last season.
He played the physical role he was asked to do when traded to the Kings. When Lemieux was on the ice, he created room for his teammates to be creative on the offensive end. He did have a stretch where he was one of the best players on the Kings, and that stretch allowed Lemieux to score eight goals, two short of a career-high.
Lemieux could improve on puck possession and offensive awareness. He has a big body, so he should be improved on the cycle game and in the dirty areas. His defense needs a bit of work also.
Lemieux may find a new home in the offseason. He could be back on a cheap deal and be an extra forward, but the LA Kings currently have players waiting who earned a spot this year.
Overall Grade: C