On July 1, the Los Angeles Kings acquired Nashville Predators forward Viktor Arvidsson in exchange for a 2021 second-round pick and a 2022 third-round pick. This trade falls perfectly in line with the Kings’ desire to add top-six talent with significant NHL experience. With the Preds facing some expansion draft headaches, LA was able to snag the two-time 30-goal-scorer at a bargain price. This is a bright start to a summer of shopping for the Kings, as they plan on returning to the playoffs in 2021-22.
What Arvidsson Brings
When playing his best hockey, Arvidsson is a lightning-quick ball of energy, who excels in scoring goals. During his six-season in the NHL, he has scored 29 goals or more in three seasons — including an incredible 2018-19 season where he scored 34 goals in 58 games, a 48-goal pace over 82 games. He is an excellent player in transition who enjoys playing on the rush. He utilizes fantastic speed and creativity to aggressively attack defensemen one-on-one. Once inside the zone, he shows excellent offensive instincts — frequently creating separation from his defender, allowing him to be easily set up for goals. He’s also very willing to score greasy goals – as the chart below shows, he scores a high percentage of his even-strength goals, in and around the crease.
He has seen a decrease in production recently — scoring at a 0.26 goals-per-game average (G/GP) in 2019-20 and a 0.20 G/GP in 2020-21. It’s only fair to mention that this harsh decline in production followed a lower-body injury suffered in 2019. While these stats indicate a player trending down, there’s plenty of reason to believe he will have a bounce-back year in 2021-22. His 10 goals last season came from a career-low 6.6 shooting percentage (S%) — if we adjust his stats from last season to his career average of 11.4%, he would have scored 17 goals, putting him level with Dustin Brown as the Kings’ leading goalscorer. Arvidsson also posted terrific possession metrics, with a 58.5 Corsi for percentage and a 59.7 Fenwick for percentage. Last year, he was excellent at driving offense, but was snakebitten. It’s safe to assume he will move closer to his average shooting percentage next year, meaning he will find the net with more regularity.
Along with his scoring ability, he brings a willingness and ability to play defense. He displays solid body and stick positioning, allowing him to make life difficult for opposition puck carriers. His high motor also makes him a very effective forechecker, as he uses his speed and good angling to force defenders into mistakes. At 5-foot-9, he isn’t the most physical player, however, like a mosquito, his constant buzzing around the ice makes him a difficult player to deal with. His defensive contributions in 2016-17 were enough to earn him a single Selke Trophy vote.
Where He Fits In
With more moves coming this summer, it’s difficult to predict where he will slot into the lineup come opening night. That being said, if the season started tomorrow, I would assume he starts as the team’s first-line right-winger. He spent a large portion of his time in Nashville playing on a top-line with Ryan Johansen, and LA would be wise to pair him with a similar, big-bodied playmaker like Anze Kopitar. Arvidsson and Kopitar would be a great fit together, leaving the left-wing spot up for grabs. As of now, it’s a battle between Adrian Kempe and Alex Iafallo for that spot.
Pairing Arvidsson with his compatriot Kempe could reap some great benefits. Both players are extremely fast and excel at pushing back defenders as they fly through the neutral zone — which would give Kopitar more time and space to work with. It would also give Arvidsson a familiar face to play with — as he and Kempe have previously been teammates on the Swedish national team. This line would give the team a dangerous transition game that could keep the opposition on their heels whenever they touched the ice.
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Pairing him with jack of all trades Iafallo also has its benefits. Iafallo is an extremely hard worker who excels at retrieving pucks and dishing to his teammates. His ability to win puck battles in the corner would create plenty of chances for Arvidsson. Both wingers also possess a non-stop motor which would make life miserable for the opposition. It would also create an excellent shut-down first-line. If the line of Iafallo-Kopitar-Arvidsson was put together, you would have three players who have received votes for the Selke Trophy on one line. It would be an amazing 200-foot line that can beat you in all three zones. Playing in a weak Pacific Division next season, this line could prove to be one of the most dominant in the division, were they to find chemistry together.
This trade presents fantastic value for the Kings. They got a player that fits perfectly into the criterion they had set up going into the summer. He will be able to fill in on the team’s top-line while they wait for prospects to develop. He has plenty of NHL experience, with 385 games played and his contract is perfect. With just three years remaining on his current deal, he’s an ideal “bridge” player — his $4.25 million cap hit will also make him an easy player to move if necessary. Given their abundance of draft picks and prospects, giving up a second and third-round draft pick, rounds that they possessed two picks in, was a small price to pay for Arvidsson. Ultimately, the Kings paid very little for a proven NHL goalscorer, something they desperately need. This was a wonderful deal to kickstart an eventful summer.
My name is Austin Stanovich, as a lifelong player and fan I’m hoping to bring my own unique perspective on the hockey world, specifically covering the Los Angeles Kings. As a SoCal native I grew up a Kings fan, and after graduating from Long Beach State in 2020 I’ve joined The Hockey Writers crew as a columnist for the Kings.