Kings Would Have Serious Playoff Chances With Landeskog

Recent reports have suggested that the Colorado Avalanche have hit a speedbump in trying to re-sign captain Gabriel Landeskog. He is reportedly unhappy with the lack of offers coming from Colorado and his future with them is in doubt. With the Kings hoping to turn the page on their rebuild next season, he could be a perfect addition. If he becomes available and if the Kings are truly committed to making the playoffs next season, they need to make a big push for the Avalanche captain.

Kings Have the Cap Space

The biggest hurdle for any team looking to sign Landeskog has to be his cap hit. According to Evolving Hockey’s contract projections model, he will be signing for somewhere around $8.8 million per year for seven years, a contract that would make him the fourth highest-paid left winger in the league. This would be a massive financial burden for teams to take on, especially with the cap ceiling remaining flat this summer. Fortunately, the Kings are in a perfect situation to make this deal work. Even after acquiring Viktor Arvidsson, the team will still have approximately $14.7 million in cap space next season. This means, if they sign Landeskog at the price mentioned earlier, they will still have roughly $6 million in cap to further improve their roster.

Gabriel Landeskog Colorado Avalanche
Gabriel Landeskog, Colorado Avalanche (Photo by Michael Martin/NHLI via Getty Images)

This abundance of cap space is a luxury few teams in the hunt for the big Swede possess. If you also remember that the team will free up nearly $12 million in cap space after this season by offloading Dustin Brown, Olli Maatta, and Jeff Carter’s contracts, it’s clear that they can afford Landeskog. The price tag for him is high, but the Kings can easily afford it.

What He Can Bring

Landeskog is one of the most complete wingers in the entire league and would add a new element to the Kings roster. He brings several qualities the team is lacking, mainly, goals and physicality. After finishing 27th in goals for last season, it was clear that the team needed help putting the puck in the net. They have already partially addressed this issue with the Arvidsson acquisition; however, their issues won’t be fixed with one player. Adding Landeskog as well would solve this problem though. He averages 26 goals per 82 games and has only scored less than 20 goals twice in his career. He consistently produces goals and points, averaging 61 points per 82 games. He’s also a consistent threat on the power play — he’s extremely effective playing in front of the net and could replace Brown on the top unit.

Gabriel Landeskog Colorado Avalanche
Gabriel Landeskog 2021 GAR/XGAR Chart (Evolving-Hockey)

As the above chart shows, Landeskog’s underlying numbers are also fantastic. With 7.1 goals above replacement (GAR), his team is always a massive threat with him on the ice. It’s not just his GAR numbers that are impressive either, he’s also a possession monster. Last season he posted an unbelievable Corsi for percentage (CF%) of 69.0 and a Fenwick for percentage (FF%) of 68.4. If we combine all these numbers, we see a player who dominates play — consistently possessing the puck and consistently turning that possession into goals. Averaging 164 hits per 82 games, he would also bring a physical element the Kings are lacking in their top-six. A very responsible player defensively who has earned Selke votes in four different seasons, he will also fit into the team’s 200-foot ethos.

Colorado Avalanche Gabriel Landeskog New York Islanders Jordan Eberle
Colorado Avalanche left wing Gabriel Landeskog and New York Islanders right wing Jordan Eberle (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

With a plethora of young players on this Kings roster, his leadership qualities should not be undervalued either. The nine-year captain is one of the league’s best leaders and his influence could be massive on one of the league’s best prospect pools. He’s a player overflowing with the unquantifiable “intangibles” that coaches and general managers love. His playoff performances should also be mentioned – he’s the definition of a playoff-style player and always produces in the postseason, with an impressive 0.92 points per game so far in his career.

Serious Playoff Contenders

If the Kings can pull off a deal for Landeskog, they’re immediately playoff contenders, especially in a weak Pacific Division. A first line of Landeskog, Anze Kopitar, and Arvidsson would dominate games and could rival any team’s top line. This would also give you a second line of Alex Iafallo, Gabe Vilardi, and Adrian Kempe/Brown. That top-six I’ve listed is certainly the forward group of a playoff team. They could also spread the talent around, putting Landeskog on the second line with young center Vilardi. This would give Vilardi an experienced, defensively responsible winger to help him through any further growing pains. Regardless, Landeskog would turn the team into an instant playoff contender.

The Kings will face stiff competition for Landeskog’s signature, as the St. Louis Blues are reportedly prepared to go all-in. St. Louis would not be the only team they would be competing with either, so LA would need to get quite the sales pitch ready if they’re planning on enticing the 29-year-old winger. If on July 28, he hits the free agency market, the Kings should make him their main priority, as he can accelerate their rebuilding process and help them return to the playoffs.

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