Throughout Durzi’s four-year period in the Kings organization, he played in both the AHL and NHL. He made his NHL debut in 2021 when he scored a goal and an assist in his first game. That solidified Durzi’s role on the team, and he hasn’t looked back since.
In 2022-23, Sean Durzi appeared in 72 NHL games and tallied 38 points. While he may have been an important piece of the power play and contributed to the offense, this trade needed to be made.
Today, we’ll review why the LA Kings did the right thing trading away Sean Durzi.
The LA Kings boast considerable depth in their prospect pool, especially on defense. This depth allowed them to make a deliberate decision to part ways with Durzi.
Durzi is only 24 but still too old to be considered a young-enough player. Statistically, most NHL players peak at the age of 27. With Durzi turning 25 in October, it may be best to look the other way.
Brandt Clarke was drafted by the LA Kings 8th overall in 2021. Ever since his draft, he’s been outstanding in the OHL with the Barrie Colts. In 2022-23, he managed to appear in nine NHL games. There, he tallied two assists. Clarke looked terrific in the games he played, and it’s safe to say some fans were upset that he was sent down. Although Clarke was ready for the NHL, there was no space for the Canadian defender.
Clarke was eventually sent back to Barrie. He later tallied 61 points in only 31 OHL games. Clarke proved how terrific of a defender he is, and there’s no doubt he’ll play in the NHL next season.
He possesses excellent puck-handling skills, smooth skating, and a powerful shot. His ability to generate offense from the blue line would add another dimension to the Kings’ attack, contributing to their scoring depth and power-play effectiveness. Durzi did similarly in LA on the power-play, but with Clarke having a far higher ceiling, it’s fair to say he’ll fill in Durzi’s role just fine.
Jordan Spence is another prospect who deserves consideration for a role on the Kings. While he may not possess the same level of hype as Clarke, Spence’s performance has been consistently impressive. His greatest strength lies in his playmaking ability and vision on the ice. Spence has demonstrated the skill to make crisp passes and set up scoring opportunities for his teammates, making him a valuable asset in transition and offensive zone entries.
In 102 AHL games over the last two years, Spence has 87 points. As an undersized defenseman, that is terrific.
Spence has also received NHL ice time, appearing in 30 NHL games, tallying two goals and nine points. Spence has been NHL-ready for about a year now, and with Durzi gone, Spence will finally be able to spread his wings and finally make an impact.
Defensively, Spence shows discipline and responsibility. He understands the importance of positioning and uses his agility and quickness to neutralize opponents effectively. His ability to move the puck swiftly out of the defensive zone and initiate controlled breakouts would benefit the Kings’ transition game and contribute to overall team success. Spence has that over Durzi, who consistently struggled in his zone.
Although there’s no doubt that Durzi possesses incredible offensive talent, his most noticeable weakness is his defense.
One area where Durzi has faced criticism is his positioning and gap control. An effective defenseman requires a keen sense of awareness and the ability to maintain proper positioning relative to the opposition. Durzi has occasionally found himself out of position, leading to defensive breakdowns and opportunities for opposing players to exploit.
Furthermore, his gap control has been inconsistent, resulting in challenges when defending against speedy opponents. Failing to maintain an optimal gap allows opponents to gain a significant advantage in terms of time and space, making it difficult for Durzi to disrupt their offensive plays effectively.
Durzi has shown inconsistencies in his defensive reads and decision-making, sometimes struggling to react promptly to developing plays. This can lead to missed assignments, leaving opponents unmarked or allowing for open passing lanes.
Additionally, Durzi’s decision-making in high-pressure situations has been questionable. He has been prone to making risky plays, often resulting in turnovers or scoring opportunities for the opposition. These turnovers? They come on a nightly basis. Kings fans can recall how many times Sean Durzi coughed up the puck leading to a goal.
While Sean Durzi has the offensive potential and certain skills that make him an intriguing prospect, there are legitimate concerns about his defensive abilities. Issues with positioning, gap control, decision-making, physical play, and defensive awareness have raised questions about his effectiveness at his end of the ice.
One of the primary advantages of getting draft picks is the opportunity to replenish the prospect pool. By trading Durzi, the Kings were able to secure an additional selection in the 2024 draft. That allows them to add young talent to their system. Building a solid prospect pool is crucial for long-term success, as it ensures a pipeline of talent that can eventually contribute at the NHL level.
The Kings have flipped away numerous amounts of picks recently, including their second-rounder in 2024 and their first-round pick in 2023. The addition of Montreal’s second-round pick in 2024 gives the Kings some cushioning. Draft picks are always great. You can use them to build prospect pools and build for the future, and if not, you can use them as trade capital for the win-now level of improvement.
This trade opens up the door for other possibilities. Who knows, now that the Kings have an extra pick in their pocket and an additional 1.55 million dollars in cap space, this could lead to a bigger trade.
Possibly Pierre-Luc Dubois?
The decision for the LA Kings to trade Sean Durzi was a well-calculated move that aligned with their roster needs, long-term planning, and financial considerations. Durzi possessed undeniable potential and was helping the Kings on the power play. But the trade allowed the team to maximize their assets and build a better team overall.
If the Kings aren’t done as some insiders suggest, this move will only help them attain any other players they may want to target. Everyone buckle up because it looks like Rob Blake has something up his sleeve.
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