Three bounce back candidates for the LA Kings next season

LA Kings (Mandatory Credit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports)
LA Kings (Mandatory Credit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports) /
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LA Kings Austin Wagner
LA Kings (Mandatory Credit: David Berding-USA TODAY Sports) /

Bounce Back Candidate No. 2: Austin Wagner

This is not to suggest that Austin Wagner will be a 30-goal-scorer next season — far from it. With four goals and four assists in 44 games played this season, however, the only place to go is up.

Wagner was drafted by the LA Kings in the fourth round of the 2015 NHL Entry Draft. His calling card is his blazing speed, and in his time in Los Angeles, Wagner has been one of the fastest skaters on the team. In his rookie season of 2018-19, Wagner potted 12 goals to go along with 142 hits. Although a very raw talent, it looked like the Kings might have a future Michael Grabner type of player on their hands.

From that promising start, Wagner’s offensive numbers have steadily declined. He gets plenty of breakaway goal-scoring chances thanks to his wheels, but he has trouble converting them to the dismay of many Kings fans.

Austin Wagner will never be a top-six forward for the Kings, but the goal-scoring chances will be there because of his speed. Forgotten sometimes is the fact that Wagner is a physical player as well, averaging over two hits per game for his career. With his speed, physicality, and forechecking ability, converting a few more of his scoring chances could turn him into a very effective bottom-six forward. The percentages have to start going his way at some point, right?