The LA Kings are moving out of the rebuilding phase to one with playoff expectations. What does that mean for their 2022 first-round pick?
After years of stockpiling draft picks to build a better future, the LA Kings have let that ship sail away as they’ve finally become competitive enough to play in the Stanley Cup playoffs.
Fresh off their first postseason appearance since 2017-18, some would consider the Kings to be still going through the rebuild. But after a tough seven-game series with Edmonton, there’s been a general feeling of excitement and hunger to make the Kings a better team overall. After years of missing the playoffs and watching the team purposely struggle to bring in better futures, it’s rejuvenating to see the Kings battle in the playoffs again.
Sure, a first-round exit wasn’t exactly how we all wanted it to go. And, even though it will still be a few years before we can expect the Kings to be serious contenders for the holy grail, fans are noticeably excited about management in LA wanting to bring in star players.
With teams like the Arizona Coyotes and the Chicago Blackhawks embracing rebuilds themselves, they’ve got elite talent that they are willing to sell. According to numerous insiders, players like Alex DeBrincat, Patrick Kane, and Jakob Chychrun have been on the market, and there has been interest throughout the league.
Rebuilding teams want picks and prospects. We saw the LA Kings do that between 2018 and 2021. Watching key players to those 2012 and 2014 Cup runs depart was nothing short of onerous, but it was rewarding knowing that the Kings were getting assets that are helping the team win now and will in the future.
Picking 19th in the 2022 NHL entry draft, a wonder has come around the fanbase. What will the Kings do with their first-round pick this year? Will they add to their already top-end prospect pool, or will they flip it away to a rebuilding team in hopes of finding a star player?
At the trade deadline, the LA Kings sat quiet and never spent assets that would drastically change the team. All we saw was the acquisition of Troy Stecher, but GM Rob Blake only gave up a seventh-round pick to acquire him.
The LA Kings will again look to improve their team using free agency this offseason. We’ve all heard about the interest in players among the likes of Filip Forsberg, but we haven’t heard about the status of trades. Will the Kings look to revisit Jakob Chychrun of the Arizona Coyotes this summer? The chances are likely, seeing how the left side of the defense was one of the most significant issues the Kings had this past season.
It’s more than fair to assume that if the Kings choose to add star power via trade, they’ll likely move the 19th pick in July’s draft. With LA’s already stacked prospect pool and the team with playoff aspirations, trading that pick for a momentum-shifting player would make sense.
Of course, the Kings may not be done stocking the cupboards, and wanting to build out further that already talented prospect pool might sway the fact that they won’t move the pick. It all depends on how Blake chooses to approach the off-season. If the Kings are willing to wait a little longer before they can finally become Cup contenders, they’ll likely keep the first-round pick and use that player in the future. But if they want to contend as soon as possible, that pick is likely to get moved.
The want for a better player is natural, and we can collectively agree that finding a star player for the LA Kings may be the missing piece to a possible push. As much as the 2022 draft class is talented and should be one of the more exciting drafts in recent NHL years, the Kings are no longer in that selling position. They’ve now entered the buying stage, which does require sacrifices to be made. That sacrifice is picks and prospects.
The Kings have spent years waiting to be buyers and become fully competitive, and they’re not going to sit around hoping for all the prospects to do the heavy lifting. It’s time to buy and put those countless assets the Kings have to use.