LA Kings: Who stood out the most among the LA Kings rookies?

LA Kings (Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports)
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LA Kings Gabe Vilardi
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Nominee No. 1: Gabe Vilardi

Expectations were high coming into this season for Gabe Vilardi.

The 2017 first-round draft pick of the LA Kings burst onto the scene at the end of last season, scoring a goal on his first shot in his first NHL game. In ten games played in the 2019-20 season, Vilardi scored a total of three goals and four assists, and the future looked bright.

Going into this season, the 21-year-old was penciled in as the Kings’ second-line center. This season would prove to be challenging for the youngster, however, as he struggled offensively and in the faceoff dot. Head coach Todd McLellan would move him down the lineup, temporarily move him to the wing, and even healthy-scratched Vilardi for two games.

Despite the struggles, Vilardi picked his play up in the last few weeks of the season. He seemed to develop chemistry with Lias Andersson and looked much more comfortable. The deft passing that he is known for was back, and Vilardi even began to shoot the puck more – showing off his underrated laser-like wrist shot, which many LA Kings fans want to see more of.

Even with all the challenges of this season, Gabe Vilardi still tied for sixth on the Kings’ overall scoring list with 10 goals and 13 assists for 23 points.