In this edition of Los Angeles Kings News & Rumors, I’ll be discussing some updates on the Jakob Chychrun front, a check-in on the Ontario Reign, and a recent Athletic article that broke down who’s over, or under, performing their contract on the Kings.
Over the weekend, Sportsnet’s Jeff Marek and Elliotte Friedman discussed Chychrun on the latest edition of 32 Thoughts. In this edition, they mentioned that six teams are seriously interested in the 23-year-old defensemen. This list includes the Anaheim Ducks, Boston Bruins, Florida Panthers, New York Rangers, Columbus Blue Jackets, and the Kings. More interestingly, Marek also mentioned that the Arizona Coyotes have already been offered a package that includes two former first-round picks, and a first-round pick in the upcoming draft. This has caused many people to speculate who made that offer, and who the former first-round picks are.
Kings fans have begun speculating on what the team could put together if that is the ask for Chychrun, Rasmus Kupari, Gabriel Vilardi, and this year’s first-round pick seems to be the most common package. I don’t think that would be enough, especially if the Panthers are offering Spencer Knight, Anton Lundell, and their 2022 first-round pick, but I imagine if you replaced one of Kupari or Vilardi with Alex Turcotte or Tobias Bjornfot, you’d be very close to a deal.
If that truly is the ask, general manager Rob Blake should have no hesitation in pulling the trigger. He has mentioned before that he wants to wait on trading prospects until the team has a better sense of where their NHL ceiling is, but an opportunity like this won’t come around again anytime soon. Speaking of Blake, he and his management team were spotted at the Rangers-Coyotes game on Saturday, however, Kings’ insider John Hoven made it clear that no one should read too much into this. Suggesting that this is more coincidental than anything else.
While it might be wishful thinking, maybe seeing Chychrun in the flash will help push Blake to make a deal for the blueliner. Another Coyote player who’s apparently available that is worth looking at is Lawson Crouse. The former 11th overall pick isn’t the bonafide top-six winger the Kings need, but he could be a valuable addition. One thing this team desperately lacks is physicality, and Crouse can bring that, plus some decent offense. He can serve as a solid middle-six forward while providing a net-front presence on the power play. He shouldn’t be a main focus for the Kings but is someone to keep an eye on.
The Reign enjoyed a high-flying weekend, grabbing 14 goals in just two games, both against the Tucson Roadrunners. Those wins keep them firmly in second place in the Pacific Division, five points behind the Stockton Heat with three games in hand. The team was led by Martin Frk, who returned to the lineup after his two-game stint with the Kings, and his spell on the COVID protocol list. He posted seven points in the two games, including a hat trick on Saturday night. He’s the best goal scorer in the American Hockey League (AHL) and he proved again this weekend.
Frk isn’t the only Reign player who has impressed recently though. Vilardi has continued to find his feet at wing, with five points in his last five games. T.J. Tynan has continued to tear apart the league, hoping to win back-to-back MVP trophies. Two young players maybe haven’t gotten enough attention recently though. Young defensemen Jordan Spence is turning into a superstar for the Reign during his rookie season, currently riding an eight-game points streak, where he has 11 points, Spence now has 21 points in 28 games. If his development continues at this pace, the Kings’ depth at right defense will be even deeper, adding him to a pool that already includes Brandt Clarke, Sean Durzi, and Helge Grans. Not only does this give them a lot of security for the future, but it also makes it easier to trade one of the above players, possibly in a package for the long-coveted left-shot defensemen.
The other young player who has really impressed is Jaret Anderson-Dolan. The young center is on a six-game points streak, with nine points in that span. After playing 34 games with the Kings in the second half of last season, many people were surprised to see him start the season in the AHL. Most reports suggest that the team wanted him to re-discover his offense, after registering just one point in his last 16 games last season. It appears that the plan was for him to start the season in Ontario, and then fill in the fourth line center spot after a few months, but the solid play of Blake Lizotte has seen him stay with the Reign. This isn’t a bad thing for Anderson-Dolan though, the confidence he’ll gain from this season should help him develop into a solid player for the Kings. His ceiling is still as a bottom-six forward, but this should be his last season in the AHL.
How Players Compare to Their Contract
Recently, The Athletic’s Shayna Goldman and Dom Luszczyszyn put together an article displaying player cards for the Kings. These cards had a collection of stats, determining how the player is performing compared to their contract. Of course, these cards shouldn’t be taken too seriously and shouldn’t determine your evaluation of a player, but they’re fun to look at regardless. Some of the team’s biggest overperformers based on this model includes Viktor Arvidsson, Alex Iafallo, Arthur Kaliyev, and Mikey Andersson. With very few true underperformers. It does have Anze Kopitar and Drew Doughty technically underperforming their contracts, but that has more to do with their massive cap hit than any poor play. Both project as either top of the lineup, or superstar players in every category.
The biggest overperformer in this article was Sean Durzi. Whose numbers match up with someone making roughly $5 million, despite a cap hit of just $0.8 million. This is largely due to his fantastic offensive output, as his defensive numbers still look pretty poor. He’s felt like somewhat of a revelation on the team’s blueline after the difficult injuries they’ve suffered, so it’s nice to see the numbers back up his solid play. He’s going to present the team with a great problem next season when Sean Walker is healthy, as he has earned his spot on the roster, and you’ll likely have to find a way to move Walker.
Road Trip Continues
The Kings kicked off their road trip with a comeback win on Sunday night against the New Jersey Devils and will look to add another two points against the Rangers on Monday. The schedule eases up a little bit after that, with the New York Islanders and Philadelphia Flyers after the Rangers, before the team finishes off the road trip against the Pittsburg Penguins and Detroit Red Wings. A successful road trip could give them some breathing room in second place, making this an important stretch of games for the team.
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.