While it was never easy, Rob Blake, Luc Robitaille, and the rest of the front office staff are building the next LA Kings dynasty.
When former teammates Rob Blake and Luc Robitaille took the reigns of the LA Kings front office in 2017, the franchise’s collective cupboard of draft picks and prospects was nearly empty. After all, that is the price to pay to acquire top NHL players such as Jeff Carter, Mike Richards, and Justin Williams, who all helped secure multiple Stanley Cups.
By the summer of 2018, the Kings had an aging core and were looking for at least a couple more chances at a Cup. After making the playoffs in the 2017-18 season, the Kings looked to reload their roster by signing Ilya Kovalchuk. This deal obviously did not pan out, and some have said it was the worst move the organization made since Blake and Robitaille took control. But, on the bright side, after this year, the remaining money left on that three-year 18.75 million dollar contract is off the books, freeing up additional cap space.
The Kings went into a downward spiral in the 2018-19 season, and the need to rebuild was obvious. The new philosophy was no longer focusing on the short term but instead to acquire draft picks and build for the future.
And build for the future is exactly what the Kings have done over the last two-to-three years. They have drafted top-tier talent such as Alex Turcotte, Tobias Bjornfot, Arthur Kaliyev, and Quinton Byfield, just to name a few. As LA Kings President Luc Robitaille recently stated in an interview following the 2020 draft, “We pick guys that we believe would help us in a seven-game series.”
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Hidden gems like Swedish forward Samuel Fagemo have also been drafted, and it looks like he is adjusting well to the North American game with the Ontario Reign this year. They have also acquired young talent from other teams, such as Tyler Madden from the Vancouver Canucks in the Tyler Toffoli deal. As a result, many leading hockey analysts believe the Kings have the top prospect pool in the NHL.
Having an abundance of other prospects (too many to mention by name) could come in handy in the future if the Kings feel the need to add a final piece to a potential Cup winner like was done so many times in the past with Dean Lombardi at the helm.
With all of these players in the organizational pipeline, the Kings have nowhere to go but up, and this is in large part due to Blake, Robitaille, and company. Their experience both as players and in the front office, as well as their ability to learn from early mistakes, have been the driving force behind what many see as years of potential LA Kings’ dominance.
The Kings also will have a boatload of cap space to spend in the coming years to acquire a star free agent or two to speed up the rebuild even more and help them make multiple Stanley Cup runs.
The LA Kings might not be a Cup contender this year or next year, but if there is an organization set up for the next five-plus years, it is this one. And that is in large part due to Rob Blake, Luc Robitaille, and the rest of their staff.
The national hockey media has been largely silent as to the impact of Kings’ front office. But in time, everyone will be paying attention to LA Kings again and hopefully giving Blake and Robitaille the credit and respect they both deserve