Part one – the forwards
With the contracts they will already have in place, here’s how the LA Kings forward lines could look on the Opening Night of 2021-22.
Open – Kopitar – Brown
Kempe – Vilardi – Frk
Open – Byfield – Carter
Grundstrom – JAD – Wagner
The first name that jumps out here is Quinton Byfield. Byfield will be only 19 years old, so if the Kings send him back to the OHL this season, they will have the same dilemma next season – as he will not be eligible for the AHL due to his age.
He is projected to eventually take over for Anze Kopitar as the team’s number one center, but easing him as the third line center here makes sense. For Byfield to spend next season in the OHL will do nothing for his development, so expect to see him taking the ice at the STAPLES Center come October.
Now for the open spots.
As previously stated, it looks like the LA Kings want Alex Iafallo back. Barring any offseason moves (more on that later), as it stands right now, he would slide back into his LW1 spot should he get a new contract.
The LW3 open spot gets a little trickier. If the Kings re-sign Andreas Athanasiou, the job is his to lose. If he is traded at the deadline, that spot will most likely become an in-house battle between Lias Andersson, Samuel Fagemo, Rasmus Kapari, and Arthur Kalyiev.
A potential battle is also brewing at the RW4 spot. Austin Wagner is penciled into that spot as he is currently under contract. Pending RFA Trevor Moore has performed well in that spot this season, and if he is re-signed, he will be given every chance to keep his spot. Fellow pending RFA Matt Luff would also be in the mix should he re-sign with the LA Kings.