LA Kings: 2020-2021 season will determine if team is active in free agency

Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports /

The LA Kings have been mostly idle in this free agency period, but the upcoming season will determine whether the team is active in next year’s free agency.

The 2020-2021 season will be an evaluation period for the LA Kings’ top prospects. Players like Mikey Anderson, Gabe Vilardi, Tobias Bjornfot, and Kale Clague are among the players that will see increased roles from last season. That’s precisely why the Kings have mostly sat idle in this offseason’s free agency. Rob Blake acquired Olli Maatta from the Chicago Blackhawks to shore up the team’s defense’s left side.

They also acquired former seventh overall pick in 2017 in Lias Andersson. The 22-year-old may have a role with the Kings this year, but it’s purely speculation at this point. Many rumors suggest he will remain in Sweden for HV71’s season, making the transition back to North America thereafter.

Depending on when the upcoming season begins, the NHL may be forced to expand rosters to carry a few extra players, especially from the OHL, given their projected later start. That could throw 2020 second overall pick, Quinton Byfield, into the fire sooner than expected, in addition to 2019 second-round pick Arthur Kaliyev.

The Kings were firing on all cylinders when the 2019-2020 season came to a premature ending. Nothing suggests they’ll pick up right where they left off, but the potential to put up some points is there. The biggest question marks on the team, until proven otherwise, remain along the left side of the defense and at the winger position.

More from Rink Royalty

The left side of the defense from top to bottom pairing figures to consist of Maatta, Anderson, and Bjornfot/Clague. Of course, the Kings are hoping Maatta can be a solid pairing partner for Drew Doughty, who has fallen off in the last two years. Much of that is because who he was paired with after the organization traded long-time pairing partner, Jake Muzzin.

Maatta may also be one of a handful of players left exposed for Seattle’s expansion draft. Should the Kraken select him, the Kings will likely find his replacement in next year’s offseason. Depending on how the upcoming season goes, a couple of interesting names to monitor include Ryan Murray (Devils), Jamie Oleksiak (Stars), and Jordie Benn (Canucks).

Of course, if guys like Martin Frk or Adrian Kempe don’t produce as expected, the Kings may look to the free-agent market to complement the young prospects. The home runs would be Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (Oilers) and Taylor Hall (Sabres), but the organization could also consider Brandon Saad (Avalanche), Gabriel Landeskog (Avalanche), and Jaden Schwartz (Blues), to name a few.