LA Kings: Three best training camp battles to follow

LA Kings (Photo by Dave Reginek/Getty Images
LA Kings (Photo by Dave Reginek/Getty Images /
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LA Kings Training Camp Drew Doughty
LA Kings Training Camp (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images) /

The LA Kings added Olli Maatta to help Drew Doughty. What about the young LHD on the second and third pairings?

On the Zoom call, Rob Blake made it clear that Drew Doughty needs to play better this season after posting back-to-back lackluster years. The organization acquired Olli Maatta from the Chicago Blackhawks to give Doughty a true top pairing partner after playing with Ben Hutton in 19-20. If Drew Doughty can return to Norris Trophy form, the LA Kings will be in much better shape than the last couple of seasons.

Blake also confirmed the LA Kings are expected to rotate Kale Clague and Tobias Bjornfot through the season. The latter played the first three games on the top pairing with Doughty but was sent down to the Ontario Reign for the remainder of the year. Doughty indicated that he likes playing with Bjornfot, so perhaps there’s a future pairing.

However, there is a lot of youth along the left side of the defense behind Maatta in Clague, Bjornfot, and Mikey Anderson. The latter played in six games last season, displaying terrific defense with well-timed poke checks to disrupt offensive rushes. He also tallied a goal and is expected to be a leader one day along the blue line.

The former Minnesota-Duluth defenseman will likely see regular playing time in the 2021 season — it’s just a matter of if he’ll be paired with Matt Roy or Sean Walker.