In this edition of Los Angeles Kings News & Rumors, I’ll be discussing some updates on the Kings’ interest in Arizona Coyotes defensemen Jakob Chychrun, a check-in on the Ontario Reign, and Adrian Kempe becoming a part of team history.
Updates on the Chychrun Front
TheFourthPeriod’s David Pagnotta and Dennis Bernstein sent Kings fans into a frenzy Sunday, as Pagnotta released an article suggesting that the Kings are now the front runners in the pursuit of Chychrun. He also noted that prospect Gabe Vilardi is of particular interest to the Coyotes. This was then reiterated by Bernstein, a reliable source for Kings’ information.
So that means the Chychrun deal should be coming soon, Vilardi plus pieces for Chychrun, right? Well not exactly. It got a little more complicated when Kings insider and Bernstein’s podcast partner, John Hoven responded to a comment regarding trading Vilardi.
As a general rule, I take Hoven’s word over the rest and would suggest Vilardi isn’t dealt this season. Of course, that doesn’t mean a Chychrun deal can’t be done, it just means Vilardi is unlikely to be a part of any deal. If this is true, I’m a fan of the move, Vilardi deserves another shot on the NHL roster, as he has the highest offensive upside of any prospect not named Quinton Byfield in the team’s pool. I’ve said for a while I’m not confident in the Kings getting Chychrun by the trade deadline, the price being rumored seems too high for the Kings to match.
When the news of Chychrun’s availability broke, I was someone who wanted the Kings to go all-in on the 23-year-old, suggesting that, even a slight overpayment would be okay in this instance. However, I have cooled on that opinion recently. Is he still an incredible defenseman who would undoubtedly improve the Kings? Absolutely, but the Kings’ blue line has proven to be more than capable since Alex Edler went down to injury in December and reports suggest he’ll be back before the season ends. Add in Sean Durzi’s emergence, Brandt Clarke’s arrival, and the progression seen from Jordan Spence and Helge Grans in the American Hockey League (AHL), and I’m not sure an offensive-minded defenseman is a huge concern for the Kings anymore.
Yes, handedness plays a part and the Kings lack offensive left-shot defensemen and left-shots in general, but I question if the Kings truly need a superstar on the left side. If the team can get Chychrun at a reasonable price, absolutely pull the trigger, but I’m not convinced they should overpay for him anymore.
The Reign had another strong weekend, sweeping the rival San Diego Goals in their two-game set. The Reign won both games 4-3 as they continue to be one of the best teams in the AHL. Saturday night’s game was taken over by Martin Frk and T.J Tynan, with the two veterans leading the way once again. Tynan now has 57 points in 36 games, giving him a league-leading 1.58 points-per-game, and setting him up to finish the season with a staggering 105-point, 88-assist campaign, which would likely see him retain the league MVP award.
Frk scored his 23rd and 24th goals of the season Saturday night, putting him 3rd on the league’s charts. He’s on pace for 43-goals and 85-points. Jaret Anderson-Dolan added his 18th goal of the season, and he will give the Kings a headache this offseason, as he’ll be more than ready for NHL hockey next season, but Blake Lizotte is currently playing the best hockey of his career and won’t give up his spot easy. Figuring out what to do with Anderson-Dolan is one of the many difficult decisions Rob Blake will have to make this summer.
Sunday night’s game was all about Vilardi though. He would finish the game with two goals and a primary assist, for three points on four Reign goals. His power-play tally late in the game would prove to be the game-winner, as he continues to push for a spot on the NHL roster. The three points over the weekend bring his season total to 32-points in 30 games, many people are awaiting his return to the Kings lineup, as they could use his skill, particularly on the power play.
Spence continued his incredible rookie season with three more points on the weekend, bringing his season total to 33 points in 39 games. He’s now third in points amongst defensemen and leads all rookie defensemen in points. Tyler Madden added two points on the weekend as well, continuing his quietly magnificent season. Lastly, Rasmus Kupari added a point on Sunday night, as he looks to become a dominant AHL player once again. I still am against him playing center, and I hope he takes Vilardi’s spot on the wing when the latter is eventually called up, but I do like the Kings committing to youth with the line of Vilardi-Kupari-Samuel Fagemo. That’s three of the team’s best prospects all getting a chance to play together which is always fun.
Kempe Makes Minor Kings History
Kempe put together a magnificent weekend with five points in two games against the Vegas Golden Knights and Coyotes, including two goals in back-to-back games. This is the first time a Kings player has scored two or more goals on consecutive days since John Tonelli accomplished it during the 1988-89 season. In the midst of what could finish as one of the best goalscoring seasons by a King in some time, and what will finish as the best season of his career, this will seem somewhat trivial, but it’s still a nice fun fact.
Kings Still in the Hunt
Tied on points with the Edmonton Oilers, and three points behind the Knights with a game in hand, the Kings are very much in the playoff hunt. With several games coming up away from home, the team will have to be at their best to stay in the hunt. This team is playing solid hockey and has seen their special teams improve over the last two games, so there is still a high possibility they make it to the postseason, in fact, they have an 83.7% chance according to MoneyPuck.com.
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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.