Kings’ Newest Players Each Address a Specific Need

At the onset of the offseason, the Los Angeles Kings’ management committed to improving the team’s roster for the 2021-22 season. Last season was LA’s third straight campaign that ended with missing the playoffs, and both players and fans want to start seeing some results from the rebuild the team is emerging from.

General manager Rob Blake and his staff made good on their promise, adding three major pieces to the roster. They did so in a very strategic way, as each player brings a unique style of play and identity, making for an overall improved team in all three zones.

Viktor Arvidsson: Offensive Winger

The first major move the Kings made over the offseason was trading for Viktor Arvidsson. He was sent to LA by the Nashville Predators in early July in exchange for a 2021 second-round pick and a 2022 third-round pick. Last season, he recorded 10 goals and 15 assists in 50 games. Even though it was a down season by his standards, 25 points would still have put him sixth on the Kings.

Viktor Arvidsson Predators
Viktor Arvidsson with the Nashville Predators (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Arvidsson’s offensive analytics show why he could potentially play on the Kings’ first line this coming season. He recorded 13.4 individual expected goals (ixG) last season, best on the Predators. His expected goals for percentage (xGF%) was 52.92 percent, fifth on the team and second for those playing more than 17 games. This means that Nashville was expected to outscore their opponent with him on the ice. Nashville also possessed the puck more than they didn’t while he was on the ice, as his Corsi for percentage (CF%) in 2020-21 was 52.88 percent, third on the team and first for those playing more than 15 games.

Not everything went Arvidsson’s way last season as far as putting points on the board, but, nonetheless, his overall offensive contributions were still impressive. His regularized adjusted plus/minus (RAPM) chart from last season gives a us visual representation of his elite offensive game — the first three bars on the even-strength chart refer to offense created by a player, and the last two bars pertain to the defensive side of the game. His multi-season RAPM chart is nearly identical, showing his consistency as well.

Arvidsson’s game showed a very good overall contribution to his team last season, as he put up 1.3 wins above replacement (WAR), third on the Predators — WAR refers to the number of wins contributed by a player over that of a replacement-level player. The Kings will look to him to help the team’s scoring woes next season, especially at even strength.

Phillip Danault: Defensive Centerman

In late July, the Kings signed Phillip Danault to a six-year contract carrying an average annual value (AAV) of $5.5 million. Last season with the Montreal Canadiens, he put up five goals and 19 assists in 53 games. In Montreal’s playoff run to the Stanley Cup Final, he scored one goal and added three assists in 22 games.

Phillip Danault Montreal Canadiens
Phillip Danault with the Montreal Canadiens (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Danault’s point production is not the most impressive, but he is not getting paid to score goals. Rather, the Kings brought him on to improve their forward group’s defensive capabilities. In 2020-21, he put up a 1.87 expected goals against per 60 minutes rate (xGA/60) and a 1.84 goals against per 60 rate (GA/60), fourth and fifth on the Canadiens for those playing more than five games, respectively.

Danault also had a very respectable CF% and xGF% last season; he recorded a 58.4 CF% (fourth on the team, third for those playing more than five games) and a 57.91 xGF% (fourth on the team, third for those playing more than five games).

One of Danault’s greatest assets that came in handy for Montreal during the playoffs last season is his ability to win faceoffs. Over the course of the postseason, he won 273 faceoffs, best in the league, and there was no competition — second place won just 189. His well-rounded game from last season shows in his RAPM chart, and the Kings can expect him to play a similar game again in 2021-22 based on his consistency shown in his multi-season chart.

Danault is expected to play behind Anze Kopitar next season on the Kings’ second line. The addition of Danault solidifies LA’s top six, giving them a much greater shot at the playoffs. The team had a tough time locking down games last season, letting them go in the third period. With Danault on the ice, though, he will be able to win defensive zone faceoffs late in games and help defend leads.

Alexander Edler: Veteran Defenseman

In addition to signing Danault, the Kings also added Alexander Edler via free agency, inking him to a one-year, $3.5 million contract. While he doesn’t provide much offense, tallying just eight assists through 52 games last season, LA’s move to bring him on was about adding a veteran presence to a D-core packed with youth.

Alexander Edler Vancouver Canucks
Alexander Edler with the Vancouver Canucks (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Edler had a tough 2020-21 campaign, underperforming in both goals for and against. His expected goals for per 60 rate (xGF/60) of 2.38 ranked fifth on the Vancouver Canucks, fourth for those playing more than eight games, while his goals for per 60 rate (GF/60) of 2.34 ranked 11th on the team. His goals against metrics tell a similar story; he posted an xGA/60 of 2.59, ranking third on the team, but a 2.98 GA/60, ranking 19th.

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Despite not having the best season, Edler still added wins to the Canucks, recording 0.9 WAR. This season, the Kings can’t expect him to be a top defenseman for the team but rather a veteran presence on the blue line. The 35-year-old has played 925 games over the course of his career, giving him the chance to reach 1,000 this season. LA can also expect him to do the little things that veterans do — blocking shots, for example. Last season, he blocked 118 shots, good for fourth in the league, first on his team.

Kings’ Additions Make Them a Better Team Across the Board

The additions the Kings made this offseason will not only make them a better team, but each player provides something completely different, improving LA all over the ice. Arvidsson brings some desperately needed scoring, Danault provides the faceoff skills and defense needed to hold on to games, and Edler adds experience to a young team. If the newest players on the roster can gel with one another and the rest of the team, the productive offseason the team had will pay off.

Advanced Stats per Evolving-Hockey

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