The LA Kings will likely look outside the organization for scoring help this summer. Todd McLellan’s club was vastly better in that department than the two previous years. Still, the Kings finished 20th in the National Hockey League with 235 goals scored as a team.
Further, Los Angeles finished with the sixth-worst power-play conversion (16.1%), which became a glaring eyesore in the postseason when the Kings converted on just 3-of-24 power-play opportunities and were shutout in two of the seven games.
Free agency could be an opportunity to add a top-six winger, assuming the price is right. However, the Kings could also look around the league for a trade partner. One team that could make sense is the Chicago Blackhawks.
According to Pagnotta, the New Jersey Devils are among the teams that have interest in DeBrincat, including the Los Angeles Kings, New York Islanders and Philadelphia Flyers.
“This is going to be a player that a lot of teams that are looking for offence are going to be calling Chicago about,” Pagnotta said, “One team that I’m very curious to see if they do fully engage is the New Jersey Devils. They’ve got that second-overall pick in play, they want to bring in somebody that is controllable that they can slot into their lineup and have an immediate impact. That’s something to watch to see if the New Jersey gets in on the action on DeBrincat.”
DeBrincat, 24, was selected in the second round, 39th overall, in the 2016 NHL draft, and he’s developed into a premier goal-scorer playing alongside Patrick Kane. The Farmington Hills, Michigan native matched a career-best 41 goals this past season, along with 37 assists for a career-high 78 points.
Small in stature – just 5-foot-7 and 165 pounds – DeBrincat is masterful on the power-play. In the 2021-22 season, he accumulated a career-best 14 goals on the man advantage. He also displayed a surprising amount of grit, registering over 100 hits for the first time in his career.
He comes at a $6.4 million cap hit as he enters the final year of his contract before becoming a restricted free agent next summer.
DeBrincat can help the Kings in many ways, but ultimately, it’s all about what the Blackhawks are looking for in return. If you recall, Chicago acquired a massive haul for forward Brandon Hagel, who was sent to the Tampa Bay Lightning in mid-March.
The Blackhawks sent Hagel and two fourth-round picks to Tampa for two first-round picks in 2023 and 2024 and two fringe NHL players in Taylor Raddysh and Boris Katchouk.
DeBrincat fits the profile for what Kings general manager Rob Blake is looking for in a top-six forward. He would also give Los Angeles another right-handed shot. At this time, the Blackhawks are gauging interest in the young forward as they navigate through their rebuild.
They certainly don’t have to trade DeBrincat this summer, but there’s no indication of how long it might be before the Blackhawks are competitive again. Again, it will come down to the return the other way, but the Kings have the pieces to get any deal across the finish line.