Kings’ Protection List Features No Surprises

With the 2021 NHL Expansion Draft approaching, teams have submitted their lists detailing which players will be protected and which will be exposed. The Los Angeles Kings didn’t do too much out-of-the-box thinking, protecting those who were expected to be kept around.

The Kings’ protection list includes forwards Lias Andersson, Viktor Arvidsson, Dustin Brown, Alex Iafallo, Adrian Kempe, Anze Kopitar, and Trevor Moore. On defense, LA also protected Drew Doughty, Matt Roy, and Sean Walker. Lastly, the team will be keeping their future starting goaltender, Calvin Petersen.

Los Angeles Kings Drew Doughty Anze Kopitar Dustin Brown
Los Angeles Kings Drew Doughty, Anze Kopitar and Dustin Brown (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

There are a few names on the available list that could be very solid additions to the Seattle Kraken. The Kings also left certain players unprotected, in hope that the Kraken will select one of them due to reasons such as age, position, or contract.

Current Kings the Kraken Should Consider

Andreas Athanasiou

Last offseason, the Kings signed Andreas Athanasiou to a one-year, $1.2 million contract. The signing paid off, especially at the onset of the season, as he scored a goal in each of his first three games with the team, capping off the point streak at four games. He ended the season with 10 goals and 13 assists in 47 games, a slight increase from the 26 points he put up in 55 games the season prior.

Andreas Athanasiou LA Kings
Andreas Athanasiou, Los Angeles Kings (Photo by Keith Gillett/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images),

In the 2018-19 season, Athanasiou recorded 30 goals, so we know the offense is there. If the Kraken were to select him, they would be betting on him returning to his old form, which, at certain points this season, he showed is still there. The only thing to be aware of is that he needs a new contract, as he is a restricted free agent (RFA).

Carl Grundstrom

Another player for the Kraken to consider is Carl Grundstrom. The Toronto Maple Leafs drafted him back in 2016, 57th overall. The winger hasn’t reached his potential yet, but he is still just 23 years of age. This season he recorded six goals and five assists in 47 games, his first season playing in more than 15 contests. If Seattle wants to go for a player with less experience, but one who could be impactful one day, Grundstrom may be the way to go. He also is only getting paid $725,000 for one more season, so he wouldn’t be an expensive addition either.

Austin Wagner

A player who, like Grundstrom, hasn’t reached his potential points-wise is Austin Wagner. He recorded just four goals and four assists in 44 games this season, contributing to the lack of offense coming from the Kings’ wingers. Though his offensive production seems like it would take him out of Seattle’s consideration, I think there is more to his game that has yet to be uncovered.

Austin Wagner Los Angeles Kings
Austin Wagner, Los Angeles Kings (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

Wagner has explosive speed and can blow by defenders, an asset he can use to possibly develop into a very respectable forward. He would come cheap to the Kraken, with a salary of just over $1 million, but it wouldn’t get them a significant contributor right out of the gate.

Kale Clague

Out of all the players on the Kings’ available list, I think the Kraken should go with Kale Clague. The former second-round pick is one of LA’s most skilled defensive prospects, and while his impact hasn’t been felt quite yet in the NHL, it’s coming. The 23-year-old split the 2020-21 season between the Kings and their AHL affiliate, the Ontario Reign. In the NHL, he recorded six assists in 18 games, while he put up one goal and 11 assists in 23 games in the AHL. He is an RFA, so the Kraken would first have to sign him to get him in the lineup.

Who the Kings Want Seattle to Take

Blake Lizotte

Though Blake Lizotte is still just 23 years old and getting paid very little money, the Kraken taking him would do wonders for the Kings as far as freeing up space down the middle. LA is known for their deep prospect pool, specifically at center, so if Seattle were to take him, there would be one more spot to slot prospects in throughout the season.

Blake Lizotte LA Kings
Blake Lizotte, Los Angeles Kings (Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NHLI via Getty Images)

Additionally, the undersized center struggled in 2020-21, putting up three goals and seven assists in 41 games, compared to the six goals and 17 assists he saw in his 65-game 2019-20 season.

Jonathan Quick

If the Kings could force the Kraken to select a player, Jonathan Quick would be the first to go. Though he brought two Stanley Cups to Los Angeles, the 35-year-old goaltender is no longer the player he once was. His most recent campaign showed a 2.86 goals against average (GAA), an .898 save percentage (SV%), and a minus-3.24 goals save above expected (GSAx).

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Petersen proved this season that the net should be his moving forward, pushing Quick out; Petersen posted a 2.89 GAA, a .911 SV%, and a 3.76 GSAx. The likelihood Seattle takes Quick, though, is slim to none. Putting aside the fact that he has regressed significantly over the past few seasons, he is getting paid $5.8 million for the next two seasons, another reason why LA would want to move him.

Kings Are Looking Forward to Offseason Post-Expansion Draft

The Kings are looking to be one of the biggest players this offseason. Once the expansion draft is over, they know who they’ve lost and that they won’t need to think about protection lists anymore, the moves can begin. LA has already acquired Viktor Arvidsson via trade, but we can expect more additions after Wednesday’s draft, potentially including a big-name defenseman and a top-six forward.

Advanced Stats per Evolving-Hockey

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