In my last article, I highlighted the LA Kings’ three worst contracts heading into 2020-21. In this companion piece to my previous article, we will take a look at LA’s three best contracts, along with an honorable mention.
An honourable mention for this list is Gabriel Vilardi. He played in the Kings’ final 10 games of the 2019-20 season as the second-line center due to Jeff Carter’s injury and posted seven points. This is a 57-point pace in a full season, and if he can replicate this next season, he’d be a Calder Trophy contender. His current entry-level contract has two years remaining with an average annual value (AAV) of $894,167, which could prove to be the team’s best deal.
3) Alex Iafallo
For the past two seasons, Alex Iafallo has skated on Anze Kopitar’s wing and emerged as Kopitar’s partner in crime during the 2019-20 season.
In 2018-19, Iafallo had a breakout season, scoring 15 goals and posting 33 points. In 2019-20, he emerged as a bonafide top-six forward. In 70 games played, he scored 17 goals (second on the team) and added 26 assists (third on the team) for a total of 43 points (second on the team). Although this trailed Anze Kopitar’s 62 points by a large margin, Iafallo had eight more points than LA’s next most productive forward and was named the team’s 2020 player of the year.
Iafallo is a lock for playing on the Kings’ first line next season and will definitely be one of the team’s top-three forwards (Kopitar and possibly Vilardi could do better than him). Despite this, his contract only has an AAV of $2.43 million. Although he’s a UFA after next season, he definitely has one of the team’s best deals heading into the season and it makes him easily tradeable at the trade deadline if LA is struggling.
2) Sean Walker
Sean Walker’s contract is different from the other two on this list, and he will be a steal for the foreseeable future. He inked a four-year deal with an AAV $2.625 million this offseason. This is a fantastic deal for a player of Walker’s caliber.
Walker plays on LA’s top penalty-killing unit and averaged over a minute per game on the penalty kill. He also plays on LA’s second power-play unit. He is solid defensively, but is more known for being a young, offensive defenceman. In 70 games played in 2019-20, he posted 24 points. This tied him with Jake Gardiner and Matt Dumba in points, who are two of the league’s better offensive defencemen.
Dumba’s contract pays him $6 million per season, while Gardiner is paid $4.05 million. Considering Walker tied these two players in points, yet makes way less than either of them, this is a great deal for an up-and-coming offensive-minded defenceman.
1) Matt Roy
Matt Roy has the best contract on the Kings in 2021. His deal only has one season left, and it carries a cap hit of $700,000. This is very cheap for a player of his caliber, as he was an elite defensive defenceman in the 2019-20 season, which led to him finishing 13th in Calder Trophy voting.
In 70 games played, Roy threw 132 hits (19th most in the league) and he blocked 100 shots. This is equal to 1.42 blocks per game and 1.88 hits per game, both of which are elite totals. He led LA in plus/minus with a rating of plus-16.
Roy has an elite possession game, as LA generates way more opportunities than opposing teams when he’s on the ice. LA has a 56.60 shots for (SF%) ratio when he’s playing, and has a 54.44 scoring chances for (SCF%) while he’s on the ice. Basically, Roy is elite at limiting shots and scoring chances against, while he can generate some offence.
What it Means
LA has a number of players locked up on cheap contracts, and has many high-end prospects on entry-level deals. Besides Doughty and Kopitar’s big contracts, all of the Kings’ high-paying deals end between 2021 and 2023. This is a great sign for the future, and King’s fans should be hopeful in Rob Blake’s ability to continue signing great contracts.