LA Kings: Fans shouldn’t be concerned about Vilardi’s production

LA Kings (Mandatory Credit: Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports)
LA Kings (Mandatory Credit: Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports) /

Gabe Vilardi has not put up crazy numbers in his first full season with the LA Kings, but he still has a crucial role as a top-six forward.

Although the LA Kings‘ 2017 first-rounder hasn’t necessarily exploded on the stats sheet this season, Gabe Vilardi has proven his worth amongst the top-six forwards in other aspects of his game. Vilardi is currently slotted as the second-line center role for the LA Kings, and he also centers on the second unit of the team’s power play. He also gets time on the penalty kill because of his next-level sense of defensive awareness for the LA Kings.

Vilardi has always been known to be a highly intelligent, two-way player from the start of his career. Another area of his game that he has noticeably improved in, however, is his face-off capabilities. As a developing 21-year-old, Vilardi owns a respectable 45.6% on all 371 draws taken.

For those who aren’t familiar with the average amount of draws taken by a center, that is a significant amount of face-offs for a young player to take. Considering that this is Vilardi’s first full season of NHL competition, fans should be fairly pleased with his game’s progression. Overall, this looks like an upward incline from here with the experience Vilardi is getting in the face-off circle.

Overall, the Kings should definitely be looking to protect Vilardi when the expansion draft comes around this summer. Of course, dates are hard to solidify with Covid protocols constantly remaining prevalent. Vilardi is vital to the LA Kings’ morale, but more importantly, a big piece to this constantly moving puzzle for the club.

Plenty of time to grow with a young and developing team

As we know, the LA Kings are working with a very young squad this season. Keep in mind the team is one of the youngest in the league with an average age under 27 years old. Thankfully, the LA Kings have numerous prospects that they’re looking to bring on board in due time. Soon enough, the two top ten picks, Quinton Byfield and Alex Turcotte, will both make nice additions to the depth and youth of this young LA Kings team.

When seeing 12 points for Vilardi this season thus far, it’s fair to say that we expect more from him 27 games in. It is certainly not a matter of talent that reflects this shortcoming in points for Gabe, though. As of late, he’s been placed on a line with Jeff Carter and Andreas Athanasiou. Vilardi always manages to stay calm and collected in high-pressure situations with the puck showing an elite-level hockey IQ, especially for a 21-year-old.

Looking ahead in the standings

Wednesday night’s game against St. Louis was a big step in the right direction for LA Kings. They currently sit right behind the Blues in the standings for the West with 30 points. Likely the most challenging part for the LA Kings, though, is that the Arizona Coyotes are currently breathing down their neck. They sit right behind the LA Kings with 28 points. So, with both Arizona and Los Angeles looking to steal that last playoff slot from St. Louis, the win on Wednesday may just show to be a good omen moving forward.

After Monday’s game with the Blues was postponed, it was nice to see the Kings start to get their legs back as well as pick up a stroke of confidence along the way after a 4-1 win against a strong Blues roster. Vilardi didn’t get his name on the score sheet, but again, he was able to make a noticeable impact in Wednesday’s notable team performance.

dark. Next. Vegas standing in the way of a playoff spot

Moving forward, the LA Kings need to lock in mentally and secure these next few games in order to stay in contention for this last playoff spot in the West Division.