TSN’s Travis Yost had his second installment of breaking down each team’s positional depth. This time, it was the right-wingers.
The Kings come in at the second-highest tier, which Yost labels as “Outperform,” – along with nine other teams.
There’s no question the addition of Kevin Fiala has given the Kings a legitimate first-line winger. It’s worth noting that Fiala is a player that can play both wing positions, as is the case for several wingers on the LA Kings. Yost alluded to the difficulties of assigning certain players to one wing:
There are about 10 to 12 wingers who are interchangeable (left wing/right wing) and many more who have position interchangeability, but do not actually play one of the two sides at present time. This positional issue only exists at the wing, but in a few circumstances there are overriding changes that should be made.
One of those circumstances is Fiala.
All that said, this is a pretty good group for the Kings to be in. Considering the star power in Boston (David Pastrnak), Colorado (Mikko Rantanen), Ottawa (Claude Giroux), and Tampa Bay (Nikita Kucherov), not to mention the depth on teams like Carolina and Vancouver, the Kings now belong in this conversation, in large part due to Fiala, who is coming off a 33-goal, 85-point campaign.
Behind Fiala is, Viktor Arvidsson. When he’s been on the ice, he’s been a productive player. The biggest issue with the 29-year-old is his health. After missing time in prior seasons with injury, Arvidsson missed 12 games during the 2021-22 season and the entire playoff series against Edmonton. He is not guaranteed to make the opening night lineup after undergoing surgery in May.
Among players that played at least 500 minutes, Arvidsson finished tops in the NHL in individual Corsi-For per 60 minutes (per Natural Stat Trick):
He was also sixth in the NHL in shots per 60 minutes. He was with some impressive company:
When Arvidsson is healthy, he’s an impactful player.
The wild card of the group for LA will be Arthur Kaliyev. Truth be told, much of the success of the Kings’ season could hinge on the play of the (projected) third line of Alex Iafallo, Quinton Byfield, and Kaliyev.
In his first full season in the NHL, Kaliyev scored 14 goals and 27 points in 80 games. Most of his time was spent on the fourth line with Blake Lizotte and Brendan Lemieux. While he excelled in that role, he should be elevated to a more prominent role this season, including more power play time.
Oh, and that shots per 60 statistic? Kaliyev was second-best on the Kings, coming in at 16th overall in the NHL with 10.7, right behind Boston’s Brad Marchand.
Lemieux was brought back on a one-year deal and is expected to play the same fourth-line, grinding, in-your-face role he played last season in Los Angeles. In 50 games, he chipped in eight goals and 13 points while amassing 97 penalty minutes.
While, at least at the moment, some players are knocking on the door, notably Gabriel Vilardi, Rasmus Kupari, Jaret Anderson-Dolan, and Samuel Fagemo, it’s fair to expect Lemieux to see the bulk of the minutes on the fourth line in the early part of the season.
Overall, the LA Kings’ depth among right-wingers is a strength both at the NHL level and in their system.