Do the LA Kings need more defensive depth?

LA Kings (Mandatory Credit: David Berding-USA TODAY Sports)
LA Kings (Mandatory Credit: David Berding-USA TODAY Sports) /
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LA Kings Sean Walker
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If there is one that is certain in today’s NHL, it’s that nothing is certain. Should the LA Kings make a move for defensive depth?

Going into the 2021 season, the LA Kings seemed to be all set on their blueline. The team traded for Olli Maatta during the off-season in the hopes of solving the great Drew Doughty partner mystery, and the play of youngsters Matt Roy, Sean Walker, and Mikey Anderson last season gave the Kings a promising young defense corps to work with. Kurtis MacDermid would provide depth and grit, and rookies Kale Clague and Tobias Bjornfot would be rotated between the NHL and AHL to get both much needed playing time with the big club. The plan was looking pretty good.

Then Thursday night happened.

In the second period of the LA Kings game versus the Minnesota Wild, right defenseman Matt Roy took a hit from behind from Wild forward Kevin Fiala, which caused Roy to crash face-first into the top portion of the dasher boards. As a result, it took Roy several minutes to get to his feet, and when he did, he had to be helped off of the ice by his teammates. He did not return to the game.

In the third period of that same game, another Kings right defenseman, Sean Walker, would suffer a game-ending injury. Walker was in the wrong place at the wrong time as a rising Matt Dumba slapshot sailed under his visor and made direct contact with his face. It was obvious the injury was severe, as Walker was immediately taken off of the ice and to the locker room. Down to only four defensemen, the Kings were unable to mount a comeback and would lose the game 5-3.

The following day would bring more potential bad news, as Kings center Blake Lizotte would join Andreas Athanasiou on the covid list. On the surface, this shouldn’t affect the team’s defensive depth, as Lizotte is a center. But considering that Lizotte and Mikey Anderson are roommates, the Kings were suddenly faced with the prospect of losing three defensemen within a very short period of time.

There is good news.

At the very least, Mikey Anderson should be available for their next game on February 2nd against Anaheim. Anderson was on the ice for practice Sunday, which would suggest he has a negative covid test and is also symptom-free. If Anderson can continue to avoid the COVID list, at least the left side of the LA Kings defense will remain relatively intact.

There is also not so good news.

LA Kings coach Todd McLellan reported after practice on Sunday that both Matt Roy and Sean Walker would miss an “extended period” of time. While the pair are not on IR yet as of this writing, it can be inferred that “extended period” likely means week to week. The Kings have an opportunity to make the playoffs this season, but to do so, both Roy and Walker figured prominently into those plans.

Of course, it is too early to write this season off because of these injuries, but the Kings will need to come up with a replacement plan until they come back. With that in mind, what are the team’s oprions?