LA Kings Rumor Roundup
The calendar has turned to February, and we’re just over one month away from the NHL trade deadline. Here are the latest rumors surrounding the LA Kings.
Over the past couple of weeks, Ottawa Senators GM Pierre Dorion had taken in some LA Kings action:
#Sens GM Pierre Dorion continues his scouting tour. Kings have right shot D they are willing to move. https://t.co/wanJZy9xeN
— Bruce Garrioch (@SunGarrioch) January 22, 2023
The Senators have long been on the lookout for help on the blue line, particularly along the right side, and that’s where the Kings have the most to offer. If Dorion is in person scouting the team, it can be assumed he’s looking at players on the NHL roster rather than prospects. That leaves the likes of Sean Durzi, Sean Walker, and Matt Roy as right-shot defense options for the Senators.
Ottawa isn’t looking to make a push this season, and each of the three RD on the Kings does have one more year left on their current contracts. Given the youth of the right side of the Senators’ defense group in Artem Zub and Jacob Bernard-Docker, they could be looking at a more stable NHL defenseman to shore up the right side. This would make Roy an attractive option.
It’s also possible there could be something of interest from the Senators to the LA Kings. Cam Talbot has been on the shelf recently but is expected to begin skating after the All-Star break. It’s no secret the Kings need help between the pipes, and they were linked as a possible destination should Talbot be on the move.
We’ll see if there’s any smoke from the Ottawa fire.
Speaking of goaltending, Vancouver is in the process of retooling (don’t call it a rebuild) their roster. They’ve already shipped out Bo Horvat, and as Elliotte Friedman opined on the Jeff Marek Show, Thatcher Demko could be next.
Friedman mentions the Buffalo Sabres, Pittsburgh Penguins, and LA Kings as teams that make sense for Demko, who is currently injured. While Demko has been skating, he’s at least another three weeks away from returning to action. This type of move would seem to make more sense for the Kings in the offseason rather than in-season, as I’m not sure how much Demko can be relied upon coming off a lengthy injury situation.
The Southern California native is signed for three more years at $5 million AAV. He is one of the few goalies I would pay up for. He did not get off to a good start this season and has been out with an injury since December 1st. That said, I trust the sample of his nearly 100 games of being one of the top goalies in the league rather than a poor 15-game stretch to start a season where the defensive environment in Vancouver has been a trainwreck.
Per Evolving Hockey, Demko ranked seventh in Goals Saved Above Expected for the 2020-21 and 2021-22 seasons combined. He was 10th in save percentage among goalies with at least 50 games played during that time frame.
I am a believer in Demko and am very interested in him long-term, but I don’t think he’s a solution for the short term.
The Daily Faceoff’s Frank Seravalli has linked the LA Kings to Chicago left-shot defenseman Jake McCabe. The 29-year-old blueliner is signed for two more years at $4M AAV after this season.
McCabe has been an effective defenseman on a bad Chicago team:
There are rumors that some teams including Los Angeles Kings have interest in defenseman Jake McCabe from the Chicago Blackhawks. It's excellent target! McCabe, except last year, has been one of the most underrated defensemen in the NHL since ~2018. pic.twitter.com/rmft4Es7gn
— Andy & Rono (@ARHockeyStats) January 31, 2023
While a solid NHL defenseman, I am not sure he’s the impact left-shot defenseman the team is in the market for. I think he could be a strong replacement for the likes of Alex Edler heading into next season, but for a team that’s been linked to Jacob Chychrun for so long, I’m not sure I see the logic for McCabe other than he’s left-handed. If the Kings were to go this route, I think it’s likely the team would still be searching for a more impactful left-shot defenseman. Not to mention it would keep Tobias Bjornfot and Jacob Moverare in the AHL with the Ontario Reign.
McCabe wasn’t the only Chicago Blackhawk that Seravalli linked to the LA Kings as he listed them as potential suitors for Patrick Kane as well, noting that “they’re just opening their championship window” and they “have the picks and prospects to pull it off.”
This one is hard to envision. First of all, Kane has had a sub-par season and one that has seen him miss time due to injury. Not to mention the 34-year-old is in the final year of a $10.5 million contract. Despite all the talk of defense and goaltending, I don’t think it’s out of the question the Kings look to take a swing at a top-six forward. But I don’t know if the cost for Kane would be worth it. Figure the Kings would have to part with a first-round pick plus a top prospect at a minimum.
While the Kings’ championship window may be opening, I don’t think they are a Patrick Kane away from becoming Stanley Cup contenders. This type of short-term deal would be a surprise, given how Rob Blake has operated to date. That said, you could get me to be more into this idea if Chicago would be willing to take back the Cal Petersen contract.
This isn’t the first time we’ve seen Ivan Provorov’s name linked to the LA Kings. The match is obvious. However, The Fourth Period’s Anthony Di Marco said on Wednesday that the Flyers intend to keep the Russian defenseman. As it relates to the Kings, Di Marco notes that the team’s unwillingness to include Quinton Byfield has halted talks:
Kings won't part with Byfield so that's thrown a monkey wrench into a potential deal.
— Anthony Di Marco (@ADiMarco25) February 1, 2023
I have two thoughts on this. First, I don’t blame Philadephia for asking for Byfield. Provorov is a 26-year-old defenseman signed for two years after this one, so he is a good age and not a rental. Second, I also don’t blame the LA Kings for saying, ‘”no, thank you.” Provorov’s AAV is $6.75 million for those two more years, and I simply don’t think he’s been as impactful a defenseman as some may think. He isn’t a significant point producer, isn’t someone who’s an asset on the power play, and I wouldn’t consider him a shutdown defenseman. He’s a perfectly adequate, second-pair type of defenseman. The Kings already have that caliber of player. I wouldn’t trade Byfield in a deal for Provorov.
However, if the Kings are going to add a significant piece – be it on the blueline, in goal, or even an impact forward somewhere, they may need to soften their stance on some of their top young players in order to make it happen. It’ll be tough to add an impact player in a deal that doesn’t involve Byfield, Brandt Clarke, or Arthur Kaliyev. I don’t know if Jordan Spence or Alex Turcotte is enough of a centerpiece to a deal that will get teams to pull the trigger.
Until next time!
(Main Photo Credit: The Sporting News)