It was another rough year in Tinseltown as the Los Angeles Kings continue their climb back up the hill during a tricky rebuild. Finishing sixth in the West Division, the Kings struggled mightily on the offensive end all throughout the year. However, the organization and fans alike were welcomed by a glimpse of the future of the Kings throughout the season. They had many players come up to the NHL such as Drake Rymsha, Arthur Kaliyev, and last year’s second overall pick, Quinton Byfield.
But before we get into their future, let’s look back at the season that was for Los Angeles.
By The Numbers
Power Play: 18.93% (19th)
Penalty Kill: 83.65% (7th)
Goals For: 142 (27th)
Goals Against: 169 (11th)
For the past few years, this category has always featured the same answer. The best player for the Los Angeles Kings was their captain, Anze Kopitar. Leading the team in points with 50 and assists with 37, Kopitar had another solid season in his 15th year in the NHL. He also set a career-best faceoff percentage at 57.3 percent. The fact that he is setting career-highs at this point in his career is cool to see, and he will continue to be a part of the Kings’ core.
This was hard to decide because there definitely were a few nominees. But at the end of the day, this goes to a player who had a down year after initially appearing to be on the rise. The Kings’ biggest disappointment is Alex Iafallo. After setting career-highs in goals (17), assists (26), and points (43) in 2019-20, Iafallo took a step backward this past season. His 13 goals and 30 points are the lowest he’s had since his rookie year. Hopefully, in a full season next year, Iafallo will be able to keep developing.
Behind the Bench Analysis
Head coach Todd McLellan had a rough second year behind the Kings’ bench. However, McLellan’s biggest triumph for this season has to be the penalty kill. Going from one of the worst penalty-killing teams last year, finishing 24th, to finishing as a top-10 team is quite the accomplishment. The offensive woes will certainly need to be fixed but he’ll have some help once those top prospects make their way up to the NHL permanently.
Front Office Analysis
In his fourth year at the helm, Rob Blake continued to try and jumpstart his team’s rebuild. At the beginning of July, Blake made quite a splash acquiring Viktor Arvidsson from the Nashville Predators for a second-round pick. He also traded Jeff Carter to the Pittsburgh Penguins and acquired a third and fourth-round pick. The Arvidsson move will certainly help the Kings’ offensive struggles.
2021 NHL Entry Draft Picks
The Kings have seven picks in the 2021 NHL Draft, including the eighth overall choice. Here’s where things get interesting. They don’t have their own second-round pick due to the Arvidsson trade, but they do have a second-round pick from the Alec Martinez trade when they sent him to the Vegas Golden Knights. They have an extra third-round pick from the Jack Campbell and Kyle Clifford trade with the Toronto Maple Leafs, too. Los Angeles doesn’t have their own fourth-round pick, either, trading it to the New York Rangers to acquire Brendan Lemieux. However, they have the Calgary Flames’ pick from dealing Derek Forbort. Finally, the Kings do not have their seventh-round pick as that was dealt to the Carolina Hurricanes in a draft-day trade last year that gave them Carolina’s fifth-round pick.
Offseason Wish/Checklist & Prognosis for 2021-22
Looking towards the offseason, the Kings’ main need is going to be offense. There are a lot of issues on that front, but the Kings have to manage their cap space wisely seeing as they’ll have $15.5 million to use. And with a few restricted free agents to decide on, including Trevor Moore, who finished seventh in points last year, it will be interesting to see what direction they go in during the offseason.
Looking towards the 2021-22 season, one of the biggest questions that will be on the minds of Kings fans is if Byfield will join the team from the start. More than likely, it seems like the answer to that question could be “yes,” but there will certainly be other young players looking to make an impact. This will also be the first big test for Calvin Petersen as he assumes the throne in net. This season could be a sign of things to come in Los Angeles as they continue to rebuild and get back to their winning ways.
Follow Carson Babbini on Twitter @cbabs1120
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