In 2021-22 Adrian Kempe finally unlocked the raw tools he had shown as a prospect, setting career highs in goals (35) and points (54). Kempe left no doubts about whether or not that was for real this past season, setting new career highs again in goals (41) and points (67). Also, in 2022-23, the Kings saw the breakout of another young forward with high-end skill, Gabriel Vilardi. After years of injury and inconsistency, Vilardi notched 18 goals and 41 points in just 63 games last season.
As we look ahead to 2023-24, there’s another forward who looks primed for a breakout, and that’s Trevor Moore.
In December 2022, Moore and the LA Kings agreed to a five-year extension worth $21 million ($4.2 million AAC). For a player with modest offensive production, it may have seemed like a hasty commitment from the Kings. But if we look a little deeper, Rob Blake and Co. are banking on them getting in just at the right time.
Moore had somewhat of a breakout in the 2021-22 campaign, scoring 17 goals and 48 points – career highs in both. This was largely due to being put on a line with Phillip Danault and Viktor Arvidsson; that trio flourished. We’d be mistaken if we considered Moore simply a beneficiary of playing with two very good linemates.
The 28-year-old winger followed that up with a more pedestrian ten goals and 29 points while playing in just 59 games as he battled through injury at parts of this season. So why do I believe that Moore is ready for a breakout season?
For starters, he’s just a well-rounded player (per All Three Zones tracking back to the 2020-21 season):
Moore is very involved in the offense. Among LA Kings players who played at least 500 minutes, Moore was second only to Arthur Kaliyev in individual expected goals per-60 minutes (iXG/60). In tracking shot contributions this season, Moore was third on the team in shot contributions per-60 minutes, behind Kevin Fiala and Viktor Arvidsson.
It’s at least worth mentioning that Moore had a career-worst 6.13% shooting percentage this past season. His average for his NHL career entering 2023-24 was 10.12. Had he met that mark, he’d have scored 16 goals, one shy of his career high, in 23 fewer games. At 5-on-5, Moore led the LA Kings in shots on goal per-60. This isn’t a player that just happens to be on the ice, getting significant minutes; he’s among the top play drivers on the team.
It wasn’t just the regular season, either. By my tracking, Moore led the Kings in total shot contributions and shot assists per-60 and was second in overall shot contributions per-60 in the playoffs at 5-on-5. He was also among the best forwards in the entire playoffs at contributing to scoring chances:
All-in-all, here are the players who created the most scoring chances (by shooting or passing) in the first round of the playoffs.
Data from AllThreeZones. pic.twitter.com/swVNQ6elZ1
— JFresh (@JFreshHockey) May 10, 2023
There is some uncertainty about who Moore will play with next season. While Phillip Danault isn’t going anywhere, the Kings are up against the salary cap with holes to fill on the blueline and possibly in goal. That could leave Viktor Arvidsson as someone who could be moved to free up space.
Throughout his playing career, Moore has never been a big-time goal scorer. Only twice has he eclipsed 20 goals – his sophomore season at the University of Denver, where he scored 22 goals in 39 games, and his third AHL season with the Toronto Marlies, when he tallied 23 goals in 46 games.
Moore doesn’t have the shot of Adrian Kempe or the hands of Gabriel Vilardi. But he has a knack for knowing where to be, having the puck on his stick in the offensive zone, and creating chances for his teammates. Among players who played at least 500 minutes in the 2022-23 season, Moore (and another LA Kings forward) were in the top 20 in the split between their individual expected goals and their actual goals scored:
And if you were wondering who leads the NHL in that same statistic, the largest gap between individual expected goals and their actual goals, over the past two seasons, you guessed it, it’s Trevor Moore:
With how he’s played since joining the LA Kings, I think Trevor Moore is ripe for his first 20-goal season in the NHL and an opportunity to push the 60-point marker.
(Main Photo Credit: Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports)