Kings’ Trade Chips for the 2022 Offseason

After a surprise trip to the postseason in 2022, the Los Angeles Kings are in a position to turn the page on their rebuild. With that will come trading players this summer; whether it’s a prospect or roster player, there needs to be some movement. Here’s a look at some of the team’s trade chips heading into the summer.

Gabe Vilardi

Gabe Vilardi’s name has been circling as a possible trade piece for a while now, and this only increased when he was sent down to the American Hockey League (AHL) in November. He did make a return in March; however, he was a healthy scratch down the stretch and only appeared in two playoff games for the Kings.

His play was inconsistent at times, and he looked solid alongside Quinton Byfield and Rasmus Kupari, but he lacked production. As a former 11th-overall pick who was drafted because of his offensive upside, his seven points in 25 games simply aren’t good enough. On paper, trading him makes sense for both sides, as a change of scenery could help the team and player. But what does the market look like for him?

Gabriel Vilardi LA Kings
Gabriel Vilardi, Los Angeles Kings (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

The answer will determine if Vilardi is traded or not. His trade value is at an all-time low right now, so the Kings might benefit more from keeping him. It’s unlikely he’s still seen as a first-round trade piece, which already raises questions about trading him. He would need to be packaged in a larger deal, so toughing it out with him might be the smarter play.

Related: Kings’ Forward Targets with 19th Pick of 2022 NHL Draft

Despite his struggles, there have been some encouraging signs. The Kings’ power play was their Achilles heel last season, and he proved to be a power-play specialist in Ontario. If used properly, he could help the Kings in this area. He’s also posted good defensive numbers during his time in the NHL. Despite his reputation of poor effort and 200-foot play, all he’s missing is production right now. If he’s traded, he would have to be part of a larger deal for a game-changing player; so if management can only move him in a minor deal, it’s better to bank on his offense developing with the club.

Rasmus Kupari

Another former first-round pick, Rasmus Kupari, probably has the most trade value of the team’s available forward prospects. He had a tough rookie season, with just 13 points in 57 games, although he did look much better after his stint back in the AHL from late January to March.

Early in the season, he struggled and was often caught trying to do too much. He wasn’t playing to his strengths and got burned often because of it. After his call-up in March, he played a more direct game, using his size and speed to attack defenders, and became a more effective forechecker. This improved play saw him get into five of the team’s seven playoff games, replacing Byfield after Game 2.

Rasmus Kupari Los Angeles Kings
Rasmus Kupari, Los Angeles Kings (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

The case for dealing Kupari lies in his high trade value. While he did struggle, he has a lot of good NHL qualities in his game. He’s an incredible skater with good size and room to add muscle. While his ceiling is lower than someone like Vilardi, his floor is much higher, making him a more enticing trade piece; not as the focal point of a massive trade, but a big piece nonetheless. His value is probably still closer to his draft position, a mid-to-late first-round pick. I’ve always been a big believer in Kupari, as players with his size and speed are always good to have around. But if he brings in a game-changer, trading him makes sense.

Alex Turcotte

Alex Turcotte is probably the unluckiest prospect in the Kings’ system, maybe in the NHL, as his post-draft career has been littered with injuries. When healthy, he’s looked good for the Ontario Reign, especially when he’s been able to string together a run of games. He posted eight points in his last 10 regular-season games, and two in three playoff games, leaving the third because of injury. It isn’t a question of his talent, it’s one of health. Like Kupari, Turcotte has a lot of qualities that NHL teams like. He’s an intelligent two-way forward with an above-average compete level and good skating. But he can’t show off those qualities from the press box, unfortunately.

Alex Turcotte Ontario Reign
Alex Turcotte, Ontario Reign (Jenae Anderson / The Hockey Writers)

I’d be very surprised if Turcotte is traded this summer, as he’s still recovering from his second concussion of the season, and his injury history means teams will likely stay away. This could be a blessing in disguise for the Kings, as a healthy Turcotte still has plenty of NHL upside.

It’s unlikely he lives up to his 5th-overall draft status, but that doesn’t really matter if he becomes an effective top-six player for the team down the road. There are still questions about whether he is a center or winger at the NHL level, but versatility is never a bad thing. Like Vilardi, Turcotte’s trade value is at an all-time low, making it difficult to justify trading him. Unless the Kings can find a team who is willing to pay above market price for him, they should keep him.

Alex Iafallo

The only non-prospect on this list, I wouldn’t have added Alex Iafallo a few weeks ago, but The Athletic’s Lisa Dillman mentioned him in her “potential trade chips” section about who will and won’t be back next season.

Potential trade chips
Gabriel Vilardi, Alex Iafallo, Tobias Bjornfot, Sean Durzi, Jacob Moverare and Jordan Spence

Lisa Dillman (from: ‘Which L.A. Kings are most likely to return next season? Who stays, who goes?’ The Athletic, May 24, 2022)

Trading him could make a lot of sense for the Kings, as he’ll have decent value, and with the team’s forward prospect depth, there are many players ready to take his spot in the lineup. Iafallo received plenty of hate from fans down the stretch for his lack of offense this season, and while those criticisms are fair, I’ve always said he took too much blame for that. Iafallo is what he is, an excellent defensive winger with significant offensive limitations. He shouldn’t be anywhere near the first line, and it isn’t his fault head coach Todd McLellan felt differently. That being said, the Kings are in desperate need of offense, and if Iafallo can’t provide that, he would make a decent trade chip.

Alex Iafallo Los Angeles Kings
Alex Iafallo, Los Angeles Kings (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

The Kings should only trade Iafallo in a specific situation, as they have to be certain someone can step up and take his spot on the roster. If the team is confident someone like Kupari, Vilardi, or even a wild-card like Samuel Fagemo can succeed on the third line, then trading him makes sense. If not, they can’t trade him. As I mentioned, he is excellent defensively, and that does provide significant value to the team. He isn’t a player they should be desperate to move, even if he seems expendable right now.

The other factor in trading Iafallo is, as always, the market. Iafallo is comparable to Calgary Flames center Calle Jarnkrok. According to, they share an 82.7% similarity score. Jarnkrok was traded at this season’s deadline for a second, third, and seventh-round draft pick. Of course, it isn’t a one-to-one comparison, as he was dealt at the deadline, which inflated his price, but he was also on an expiring contract, whereas Iafallo’s has term. I think it’s safe to assume he has roughly the same value as a second-round pick right now.

If that is an accurate valuation, he could be used in a deal to grab that highly coveted left-shot defenseman or top-six winger. Another possible, yet unlikely, use for Iafallo would be to move up in the draft. If the Kings like a prospect who’s falling, someone like Conor Geekie or Frank Nazar, he could be packaged with their first-round pick to move up. I’d be shocked to see him traded, though, as coaches and teammates love him, but general manager Rob Blake should be open to moving him this summer.

Multiple Right-Shot Defensemen

The Kings have purposefully stockpiled right-shot defensemen and centers over the last few seasons with the intention of having several players in high-value positions to trade. Now seems like the time to start looking for those opportunities. With more NHL-ready right-shot defensemen than roster spots available, the team will have to move someone.

Sean Durzi Los Angeles Kings
Sean Durzi, Los Angeles Kings (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

Sean Durzi was a revelation on the Kings’ blue line last season. On two separate occasions, he had to step up and help fill in the gap left by Drew Doughty’s injury, and he exceeded expectations all season. While Turcotte and Vilardi’s trade values are at an all-time low, Durzi’s is at an all-time high. There’s also the reality that Durzi is fairly replaceable. Jordan Spence looked great during his NHL stint and provided a lot of the same things Durzi did. Brandt Clarke should be ready for the NHL next season, leaving three prospects fighting for one spot. Add in Doughty and Roy, who are locks for the opening-night roster, and trading Durzi doesn’t seem out of the realm of possibility. He could be a major piece in a massive trade this summer, improving the team in other areas without taking a big hit in his spot.

Speaking of Spence, he’s another possible trade piece. He was the best rookie defenseman in the AHL and probably the best rookie outright last season, giving him a ton of trade value. Like Durzi, this wouldn’t be trading a player because you don’t think he’s good enough to make an impact. Rather it would be trading from a point of strength. He’s waiver eligible, which gives him more value to the Kings than Durzi, but he’s also a less experienced player. Because of this, he should only be traded in a deal to bring in a game-changer, like the Arizona Coyotes’ Jakob Chychrun.

Jordan Spence Los Angeles Kings
Jordan Spence, Los Angeles Kings (Photo by Codie McLachlan/Getty Images)

The last defenseman I’ll talk about is Helge Grans. One year ago, he was on par with Brock Faber as the team’s best right-shot defensive prospect. However, he has since been passed over by Spence and Durzi. I’m still a big believer in Grans, and I think he has a higher ceiling than both of them. Fortunately, so do some people around the league, giving him significant trade value. In fact, according to The Athletic’s Thomas Drance, some pro scouts feel he is one of the best defensemen not in the NHL.

Meanwhile at the AHL level, Swedish-born blue line prospect Helge Grans is, by the estimation of some pro scouts, the most polished defenseman outside the NHL at the moment.

Thomas Drance (from ‘Braden Schneider, Bowen Byram and 8 more blue-chip young defenders the Canucks could target at the deadline’, The Athletic, Mar 7, 2022)

If that is truly how some other teams view Grans, his trade value would be the highest on this list. I doubt that is the prevailing opinion league-wide, but teams certainly seem high on him. As I mentioned, he’d be the last of these three I would trade, but with the glut of right-shot defensemen in the system, I would understand if the Kings move him to improve the roster.

Kings Have Several Trade Chips

If nothing else, the Kings have plenty of options this summer. If they feel the need to make a big splash in the trade market, they have trade chips to burn, which is a magnificent spot to be in. I can admit bias and say I wouldn’t trade any of the forward prospects I’ve listed here but move Iafallo instead. However, I understand that’s unlikely and maybe shows too much faith in prospects who haven’t fully earned that faith. The Kings also have to move Sean Walker and one of those young right-shot defensemen if Clarke is indeed ready next season.

I might catch some heat for this, but Durzi is the player I would move. He’ll be a third-pairing defenseman next season and holds more value in the trade market than most third-pairing defensemen. On top of that, he’ll be surpassed by Clarke quickly and by at least one of Faber, Grans, or Spence soon after that. Trading Durzi would sting, but the emergence of someone like Clarke would soften the blow.

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