As we continue in this five-part series, part three is about the right-wingers of the LA Kings. They are a skillful yet underrated group of players that have a world of potential and one we say goodbye to.
Dustin Brown had a down year this past season but contributed away from the puck. With nine goals and 19 assists for 28 points in 80 games, he cemented his legacy as one of the greatest Kings of all time. We would learn shortly before the playoffs began that this would be Brown’s last season in the NHL.
Although his games were reduced, and he did not contribute much offensively, he did play his game away from the puck. He was solid in all three zones and still hit everything with a different colored jersey on. Even if his offensive game was not there, Brown still played his heart out.
With this being his last season, Brown could have improved on the offensive side of the puck. His 28 points were his lowest point total since the 2014-15 season, but he was effective in other ways.
There is no next year for Brown as he announced his retirement. He was a leader, a mentor. He is a future Hall of Famer. He is still a captain and could be in the King’s organization in the business aspect if he chooses to.
Overall Grade: C
Arthur Kaliyev played exceptionally well in his first full season in the NHL. His shot was used to its full potential, and he put the league on notice with his willingness to use that shot in every situation.
Kaliyev was able to get open just enough to use that wicked shot of his on the powerplay or regular shift. He created space on the ice by using his body to check the opposition and use that extra ice to create chances for his teammates. His passing skills are underrated, and he took advantage of players taking his shot away so he could use that opportunity to find an open teammate.
As good as Kaliyev’s shot is, he needs to shoot more. His wrist shot is a weapon, and he could have used it more on the powerplay to be more effective. Kaliyev could recognize the opposition’s transition a little more and work on his defensive game, too, as he would sometimes get caught in the offensive zone.
Next season Kaliyev could reach 30 goals with his potential if he gets the minutes snd space to create his shot. If he can find a way to also be around the net, more could set career highs in goals. Look for Kaliyev to be more offensively productive and an option on the powerplay.
Overall Grade: B
Carl Grundstrom had a big season in 2021-22 and most certainly played his way onto the Kings roster on opening night next season as a full-time player. Although not offensively gifted, he has a nice all-around game and one that plays perfectly into the Kings’ systems.
Grundstrom had nine goals and six assists for 15 points in 53 games, along with 26 penalty minutes. He was able to be just enough of an offensive weapon yet play his physical game to be effective. He has a sandpaper aspect to his game that he uses on every shift. He is a good role player, one that stands out when he is on the ice.
The Grundstrom game is about creating chances and playing with grit. He could stand to work on his defensive game a bit and get into the passing lanes. He has blazing speed that can be useful on the back-check and the penalty kill but still got caught chasing the play instead of being in it.
Grundstrom is good in the defensive end but could be better to round out his game. If he works on his overall game and allows his speed to take over, he could very well see some action in the top six next season.
He has improved every year as a member of the Kings organization to be a better all-around player, and that does not change next season when he could set career highs in all offensive categories.
Overall Grade: B
Rasmus Kupari, like Grundstrom, may have played his way into the 2022-23 Kings roster as a full-time player because of his increased offensive output and overall solid play. Kupari also had a solid season for AHL affiliate the Ontario Reign in 2020-21 and 21-22.
Kupari played extremely well this season, solidifying the bottom six. He did everything that was asked of him and maybe more with the confidence he got from his inspired play. Kupari registered five goals and eight assists for 13 points in 57 games, far better than the 1 point he scored in 7 games last season. Overall a good season for Kupari and next season looks more promising.
His neutral zone play could use a bit of work. He is solid in the offensive and defensive zones, but the play between the blue lines could have better results.
Kupari could be on the opening night roster next season for the KIngs. He is a promising young forward who has improved his overall game and looks to be a forward with potential.
Overall Grade: B
Few positions are locked down for next season, and with the young players making an impact, those same young players could round out a solid right-wing position next year. With Brown retiring, a spot has opened up, which will create plenty of competition during training camp and in exhibition games.
The overall right side looks good heading into the offseason and, barring any trades or signings, could be a position to watch closely due to immense potential.