LA Kings: Three reasons why a Tyler Johnson trade must be done

(Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
(Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images) /

Let’s revisit those Tyler Johnson trade rumors, shall we? A trade with LA Kings isn’t as crazy as you think and here’s why.

It’s been almost a month that the NHL’s free agency period began. Immediately, the Tyler Johnson rumors started flying. The LA Kings have done next to nothing the offseason besides the additions in left-shot defenseman Olli Maatta and former seventh overall pick in 2017, Lias Andersson.

It’s no secret that the Tampa Bay Lightning have salary cap problems. The reigning Stanley Cup Champions have less than $2.9M in salary cap space with three restricted free agents left to re-sign. Of those include Mikhail Sergachev and Anthony Cirelli.

In an attempt to clear cap, Johnson was put on waivers, but he went unclaimed. Back to square one. The Lightning will have to eventually move someone off the roster or let their restricted free agents walk. Just FYI, the latter is least likely to happen.

Teams will circle back to Tyler Johnson, and here’s why the LA Kings should throw their name in the hat.

1. The LA Kings need scoring

It’s long been noted that the Kings struggled to finish last year. Los Angeles was an excellent puck possession team in the 2019-2020 season but tallied the second-fewest goals (177). New faces in Gabe Vilardi, Martin Frk, and Carl Grundstrom could potentially up the team’s scoring, combined with bounceback years from Anze Kopitar and Jeff Carter.

In 65 games last season, a 30-year-old Tyler Johnson tallied 14 goals with 17 assists for 31 points. He was part of the Lightning’s special teams, scoring a goal with 6 assists on the man advantage. A year ago, Johnson tallied 47 points. The year before, 50.

He averaged nearly 0.50 points-per-game while logging the majority of his time at right wing on the team’s second and third lines.

2. More than just Johnson will come over

Johnson hasn’t been moved yet because teams have reportedly asked the Lightning to add a sweetener to the deal. Johnson comes at a $5M cap hit for another four seasons. The organization is without a second-round pick in next year’s draft, and they aren’t likely to include their first-round pick.

A third-round pick in 2021 and a defensive prospect would make a lot of sense. If the Lightning prefer to keep their prospects, a second-round pick in 2022 could be swapped. Or a higher ranked prospect. There are several options here, but the LA Kings could be the beneficiary of even more draft capital or prospects.

Of course, the Kings will have to send someone over to Tampa. Perhaps Adrian Kempe, who has struggled with consistency, could use a fresh start elsewhere. Doing so would also keep the roster spaces open for prospects to be promoted. Again, a number of options on the return.

3. Leave him unprotected for Seattle

With Seattle’s inaugural draft on the horizon, the rumors have been swirling as to who the LA Kings will leave exposed. Here’s the thing. You acquire Tyler Johnson but leave him exposed to Seattle.

John Hoven of Mayor’s Manor had an outstanding breakdown of players on the Kings’ roster who are likely to be exposed. He concluded that it would likely come down to Quick, Maatta, Luff, Wagner, or MacDermid as Seattle’s options.

It had previously been reported that the LA Kings would incentive the Kraken not to select a goaltender. Los Angeles is fond of the Quick-Petersen tandem in net as the former enters the twilight of his career. We’ll see if that report carries any weight.

Next. What a successful season looks like for Jeff Carter. dark

Johnson would be the most attractive player left for Seattle to draft. They’d be responsible for his remaining salary, also opening a roster spot for an LA Kings’ prospect in the 2021-2022 season.