LA Kings: Forget the lottery and go for the playoffs

(Photo by Kevin Light/Getty Images)
(Photo by Kevin Light/Getty Images) /
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LA Kings Carl Grundstrom
LA Kings (Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports) /

Another lottery pick or make the playoffs. Here’s why the LA Kings should go for the playoffs, especially riding this five-game win streak.

Going into the 2021 season, not a lot of hockey pundits were expecting much out of the LA Kings. After finishing with the fourth-worst point total in the NHL and without any big trades or free-agent signings, it looked like it was going to be status quo for at least one more season.

Another trip to the draft lottery looked inevitable. With the best prospect pool in the NHL, the Kings could now be looking at the possibility of adding one of Owen Power, Luke Hughes, or Brandt Clarke. Not a bad consolation prize indeed.

With the world slowly getting back to normal after being in the grips of a global pandemic, this NHL season has been anything but normal. A shortened season, divisional re-alignment, division-only play, and a new (actually old) playoff format where the top four teams make the playoffs are among the major changes for this season.

With the Pacific Division being re-aligned into the West Division, it was assumed the Colorado Avalanche, Vegas Golden Knights, and St. Louis Blues would claim three of the four available playoff spots. That leaves the fourth playoff spot up for grabs between five teams – including the LA Kings.

Even with this increased chance at earning a playoff spot, some still think the Kings should “tank” to improve their chances at a high pick in the draft lottery. As loaded as the team’s pipeline is, many feel they are missing that true “blue-chip” defensive prospect. It just so happens the top end of the 2021 draft is filled with “blue chip” defensive prospects. This is supposed to be the “transition” season with no expectations. Why not get as high a lottery pick as possible?

Others feel that making the playoffs would, in the long term, be detrimental to the Kings. Should they get in, they will most likely be playing the division winner in the first round, and the chances of winning that round will not be good. Why get beat in the first round and miss out on the lottery, they say, when the team can “make sure” they don’t make the playoffs, thus improving their lottery chances.