LA Kings Adrian Kempe

Credit: Alex Cave / Hockey Royalty

With the offseason underway, the LA Kings‘ brass will soon turn their attention toward the team’s pending free agents. Last year, Los Angeles had ten free agents to consider retaining. It’s quite the opposite this year, as general manager Rob Blake has an extensive list to dive into, 21 players to be exact.

According to CapFriendly, the Kings are in a good position financially entering the offseason. Without re-signing anyone, the Kings have approximately $20.6 million in cap space to retain their own free agents and explore the free-agent market and trade potentials.

So without further ado, here are the contract projections (via Evolving Hockey) for every LA Kings free agent and our prediction of whether they return for the 2022-23 and beyond.


Dustin Brown – UFA

Projected Contract: Retired

Brown announced his retirement at the conclusion of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Drafted 13th overall in the 2003 NHL Amateur Draft, Brown finished with 1,296 regular-season games, 92 playoff games, and two Stanley Cups during his tenure in Los Angeles.

“The hurt in the locker room was deep, team-wise,” McLellan said following Game 7. “But it was very deep for Brownie. It’s very rare in this world, sporting world, forget about hockey, that one individual spends that many years, wins championships and finishes the night with his team.”

Andreas Athanasiou – UFA

Projected Contract: Four years, $3.595 million AAV

Health was the operative word for Athanasiou this past season. He was one of the most productive skaters on the LA Kings roster when he was healthy. The 27-year-old tallied 11 goals and six assists for 17 points in only 28 games, including three game-winning goals. However, he was consistently in and out of the lineup. Added, his defensive inefficiencies reared their ugly head on the national stage in the postseason. Athanasiou was brought back on a one-year deal last year. I can see him back on a similar deal but not at four years. If that’s what he’s looking for, it’s best to part ways.

Prediction: Not retained

Adrian Kempe – RFA

Projected Contract: Five years, $6.013 million AAV

Adrian Kempe became the first 30+ goal scorer since Anze Kopitar in the 2017-18 season. The 25-year-old tallied a career-best 35 goals, along with 19 assists for 54 points. He still had stretches of disappearing from the scoresheet, but they were less frequent. Kempe showed a certain swagger this year that came with leading the team in goals. He’s in line for a well-deserved payday. He expressed wanting to sign a long-term deal to remain in Los Angeles. Hopefully, he and the team can come to a lower cap hit than projected.

Prediction: Re-signed

Brendan Lemieux – RFA

Projected Contract: Two years, $1.655 million AAV

During the regular season, Lemieux was part of the highly productive fourth line for the LA Kings. Along with Blake Lizotte and Arthur Kaliyev, the trio was known as the “energy” line. Since being acquired in 2021, the 26-year-old Lemieux added a much-needed physical presence on a Kings team with very few fighters. Added, he chipped in eight goals and five assists for 13 points. I think there’s a place for Lemieux on next year’s roster.

Prediction: Re-signed

Gabe Vilardi – RFA

Projected Contract: One year, $1.075 million AAV

Vilardi’s inconsistencies showed up again last year. After playing in the first seven games of the year, the 22-year-old was a healthy scratch for Game 8. He was sent back to the Ontario Reign of the AHL to be converted to a winger. In 39 AHL games, Vilardi tallied 15 goals and 23 assists, averaging a point per game. However, when he was recalled, he did little to prove he was worth regular playing time. That said, Vilardi will be tendered a contract, but I wouldn’t be at all surprised if he part of a trade package this summer.

Prediction: Re-signed

Lias Andersson – RFA

Projected Contract: One year, $834,200 AAV

Acquired for a second-round pick in the 2020 NHL draft, Lias Andersson just hasn’t been able to live up to the hype of being the seventh overall selection in 2017. He plays with tremendous grit and tenacity, but he had just one goal and two points in 20 games at the NHL level. He had six goals in four games with the Reign before he was recalled to the big league club. He was a healthy scratch for all seven playoff games. Other than the penultimate game in Seattle, the 23-year-old hadn’t played since April 4. I don’t see a place for him on the roster next year, and he’ll likely be finding a new home in the summer.

Prediction: Not retained

Carl Grundstrom – RFA

Projected Contract: Two years, $1.389 million AAV

Grundstrom has earned a roster spot for next season, in my opinion. I like his gritty style of play, leading the team in hits (134), despite averaging just 10:53 TOI. When inserted into the lineup, he had an immediate impact. Grundstrom registered nine goals and six assists for 15 points and a plus-four during the regular season. In the playoffs, he helped the Kings secure a Game 4 victory, scoring two goals and assisting on another for the first three-point game of his career. The 24-year-old likely has a spot in the top-nine forwards next year.

Prediction: Re-signed

Jaret Anderson-Dolan – RFA

Projected Contract: One year, $827,700 AAV

After spending 34 games in the NHL during the 2020-21 season, it was a little surprising to some to see Anderson-Dolan start the 2021-22 campaign in Ontario. However, this turned out to be a blessing in disguise for the Calgary, AB native as he was able to log minutes in all situations for the Reign. He played up and down the lineup at both center and wing at 5-on-5 and was a key piece to a historic AHL power play. His 12 power play tallies were second on the team and the fifth-most in the AHL. Entering his age-23 season, Anderon-Dolan has developed into a utility-type player that a coach can plug into any line or situation. There’s no question in my mind the versatile Anderson-Dolan will be back with the organization.

Prediction: Re-signed

Martin Frk – UFA

Projected Contract: One year, $758,000 AAV

In his third season with the Ontario Reign, Martin Frk established himself as a fan favorite. A staple on the left circle of the power play, Frk hit the 40-goal mark for the first time in his career. The chemistry he had with T.J. Tynan was instant. Unfortunately, he could never carve out a permanent role in the NHL for the Kings. At this stage of his career, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him test the market for another shot at an NHL opportunity.

Prediction: Not retained

T.J. Tynan – UFA

Projected Contract: One year, $750,000 AAV

For an organization loaded with young forward prospects, particularly at the center position, bringing in an AHL veteran center and reigning league MVP prior to the 2021-22 season may have seemed like a curious move. However, there’s no denying the value that TJ Tynan brought not just to the Ontario Reign but to the organization as a whole. Tynan won his second straight AHL MVP, amassing an impressive 84 assists and 98 points in 62 games. Not to understate his offensive production, but his tenacious, competitive nature was exactly what a young Reign team needed in their locker room. The 30-year-old never took a shift off and was a great example to the Kings’ prospects of what it takes to be a professional. The overall development of those top prospects will be crucial to the Kings’ success in the future. Having a player like Tynan around will only help that.

Prediction: Re-signed

Vladimir Tkachev – UFA

Projected Contract: One year, $750,000 AAV

Signed out of Russia the last offseason, Tkachev was viewed as a potential under-the-radar gem for the Kings. After a productive pre-season, he started the regular season in LA, picking up two assists – both on the power play – in four games. He was quickly sent to Ontario and was never called back up. With the Reign, Tkachev had 22 assists and 29 points in 41 games. He missed some time at various points of the season with injury but was an overall productive player. Still, his 5-on-5 play left a lot to be desired. While the one-year gamble was a good one for a team in transition to take, it doesn’t appear that there is a fit for the 26-year-old winger.

Prediction: Not retained


Alex Edler – UFA

Projected Contract: Three years, $3.940 million AAV

Edler got off to a tremendous start this season before he missed three months with a broken ankle against the Minnesota Wild in mid-December. The 35-year-old was a steadying veteran presence on the left side of the defense. He had three goals and 16 points in 41 games. I could see a scenario where he comes back next year on a one-year deal, giving the Kings some size along the blueline. If he’s looking for a projected three-year contract, the Kings should look elsewhere.

Prediction: Not retained

Olli Maatta – UFA

Projected Contract: Four years, $3.122 million AAV

I have to give Olli Maatta a lot of credit. He was the punching bag for the first year-and-a-half of his tenure in Los Angeles. But he had a tremendous second half of the season and became one of the more reliable Kings’ defensemen. He had just one goal and seven assists in 66 games and a plus-17, fourth-best on the roster. Los Angeles gave up nothing to acquire him, but it doesn’t make sense to bring him back, especially at four years.

Prediction: Not retained

Mikey Anderson – RFA

Projected Contract: Two years, $2.213 million AAV

Despite being 22 years of age, Mikey Anderson has established his spot on the Kings roster for years to come. In 57 games this past season, he tallied two and six assists for eight points while playing a sound defensive game. He likely won’t ever score more than five goals in a season, but he compliments Drew Doughty perfectly. Added, he showed a willingness to get into it with several Oilers players, dropping Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Connor McDavid, and Leon Draisaitl.

“I was pretty happy with that. He was getting into a bunch of scrums and punching people in the face. I loved it,” Doughty said of his defensive partner’s playoff performance. “Mikey did a good job. He didn’t play for however long right before the playoffs, and I thought he had a good playoffs, so credit to him.”

Anderson is an easy re-sign.

Prediction: Re-signed

Troy Stecher – UFA

Projected Contract: One year, $761,700 AAV

Stecher’s two playoff goals will forever stick with me. He was acquired for a seventh-round pick when the Kings were running out of options defensively. I respect what he gave to the Kings in a short stint, but I don’t see him back next year with a presumably healthy Sean Walker back and the potential for Brandt Clarke to break camp with the NHL club.

Prediction: Not retained

Sean Durzi – RFA

Projected Contract: Two years, $3.236 million AAV

Walker’s injury was unfortunate but a blessing in disguise for Sean Durzi. The 23-year-old was blocked on the right side and stuck in the AHL. In late November, he was elevated to the NHL roster, scoring a goal in his first game against his former club, the Toronto Maple Leafs. In all, Durzi accumulated three goals and 24 assists, trailing only Doughty for most points among Kings D men. He needs to continue to work on his defensive game, but he will get a well-deserved contract extension this summer.

Prediction: Re-signed

Jacob Moverare – RFA

Projected Contract: Two years, $837,200 AAV

Jacob Moverare burst onto the AHL scene in 2020-21, picking up 14 assists and 15 points in just 26 games with the Ontario Reign. During the 2021-22 season, he was a consistent top-four defenseman who was his usual quietly-effective self. Known more for his strong play in his own zone and ability to make a good first pass, the Swedish blueliner did have 10 points in 30 games with the Reign. He was called up to the Kings in January and played 19 NHL games. As he was with Ontario, Moverare was an under-the-radar defenseman who was sound in the defensive zone. Playing over 16 minutes per game, Moverare was a positive possession player at 5-on-5 (54.3% CF% per Natural Stat Trick), and given the lack of depth on the left side of the organization’s defense corps, the soon-to-be 24-year-old should be back next season.

Prediction: Re-signed

Austin Strand – UFA

Projected Contract: One year, $750,000 AAV

The 25-year-old Strand has played in 21 NHL games in the LA Kings’ organization over the past two seasons. However, the bulk of his time has been spent in the AHL. He played in 32 games for the Reign in 2021-22, mostly slotting in on the bottom-pair but has a skill-set that easily translates to the NHL and has provided the Kings with some depth over the past two seasons. Unfortunately for Strand, he is a right-shot defenseman, something the Kings have an abundance of. Sean Durzi made an impact at the NHL level, as did Jordan Spence on a smaller scale. 19-year-old Helge Grans had a strong rookie season with the Reign. With the return of Sean Walker from injury and the possibility of top prospect Brandt Clarke making the Kings out of camp, the right side is very crowded. Strand seems to be caught in no man’s land between the established NHL players and the up-and-coming right-shot D prospects. I expect him to seek out a better opportunity.

Prediction: Not retained

Christian Wolanin – UFA

Projected Contract: One year, $750,000 AAV

A versatile defenseman, Christian Wolanin is a good-skating, puck-moving defenseman. He can play on any D pairing in a pinch and is also able to run a power play when needed. In 37 games with the Reign, Wolanin picked up 17 assists and 18 points, five of those helpers coming with the man advantage. The fact that he’s a left-handed shot and can play both sides of the blue line, I wouldn’t be surprised if the Kings do try to retain him. While it’s hard to get overly excited about a 7th defenseman, I think Wolanin is perfect for that type of role.

Prediction: Re-signed


Garret Sparks – UFA

Projected Contract: One year, $784,900 AAV

Garret Sparks’ first year in the organization was unfortunately derailed by injury. He missed almost two months at the end of the regular season before getting the final two starts of the playoffs in Ontario’s second-round exit to the Colorado Eagles. When healthy, he served as a capable veteran backup netminder to the young Matt Villalta and even had a cup of coffee with the Kings, picking up a win in his only start. It’ll be interesting to see what the Kings decide to do in goal for Ontario. Villalta will have the leg up on the starting role at the start of camp, but four other young goaltenders saw time for the Reign. With Villalta now having spent three seasons in the AHL, I’m not so sure having a veteran backup is necessary. This seems like the right time to let the young crop of goaltenders push each other in Ontario.

Prediction: Not retained

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *