A left-shot defenseman potentially available for the LA Kings as an Unrestricted Free Agent is the hulking Carson Soucy of the Seattle Kraken.

Standing at 6-foot-5, few are as imposing as Carson Soucy. If the Kings are unable to retain Vladislav Gavrikov, they could opt for a more like-for-like replacement in Soucy, who will likely come at a discount compared to Gavrikov. The two players are fairly similar in their styles of play. Given their length, they’re both very good at defending zone entries and are much more defensive defensemen. Here’s Evolving Hockey’s RAPM chart from this past season:

In 78 games this season, Soucy scored three goals to go along with 13 assists. His career high in points is 21, so you wouldn’t be getting him to provide much in the way of offense. Though, I think he’s a slightly better option when it comes to transition than Gavrikov would be, as Soucy played in a much higher-paced environment in Seattle.

Via All Three Zones

Turning 28 this summer, Soucy is coming off a three-year contract worth $2.75M AAV. Evolving Hockey projects his most-likely contract to be another three-year deal at $2.6M AAV:

Evolving Hockey projects Gavrikov at about $2M more than Soucy (and I think Gavrikov will be at least a $5M player). If “size” is the preference, Soucy fits it at what could be a very reasonable price. I don’t think there’d be much of a, if any, drop-off from Gavrikov to Soucy, personally. Here’s how Soucy stacks up next to LA’s current defense group with regard to retrievals and zone exits (per All Three Zones tracking):

But is size what LA will seek? I know I’ve been of the opinion that the LA Kings need to prioritize skill over size; what the Kings decide is another question. Rob Blake was asked at his end-of-season press conference if he needed more size on his blueline, and unlike the offseason prior, he didn’t seem as sure this was an area of need.

“Uh, I don’t know,” Blake said. “I thought overall defense and the way they defended, it was good. If you look at the regular season and the defending numbers and the analytics on defense, they’re a top team. Structure-wise and everything; those guys play hard on the back end.”

It’s worth noting that despite their size, neither Soucy nor Gavrikov are overly physical. Soucy ranked 64th in the NHL among defensemen in Hits/60 (6.75) while Gavrikov ranked 234th (2.8). They’re more gentile giants than bruisers.

The salary cap may dictate where the LA Kings do some of their shopping, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see Soucy’s name linked to LA the closer we get to free agency with him and Gavrikov unsigned.

Contract status via CapFriendly

(Main Photo Credit: NHL.com)

3 thoughts on “Will the LA Kings covet Soucy’s size in free agency?

  1. The Kings need to lock up Gavri pre UFA $5.5 x 8.
    He will age well, hits/60= 2.8
    MA- DD
    Gav – Roy
    Bjornfot – Spence
    PP is good to go.
    Have Hiller also work on PK
    Don’t lose Yawney , he works on successful transition of young D.

  2. A question re: his stats, Gavrikov has a really low number of botched retrievals per 60 but also on the minus side a low number leading to exits per 60. I assume a lot of this data set includes his CBJ time? I wonder how much that was influenced when on a better team (albeit it’s a pretty small data set so less meaningful).
    Appreciate your use of data/video to reinforce your points.

    1. Thanks for reading! Gavrikov was clearly better in LAs set up than he was with Columbus. My guess is LA was less concerned about his poor retrievals given he would have to do less of that in LA. He fit LAs system very well.

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