LA Kings: Top five best fit UFA forward’s to pursue in free agency

(Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images)
(Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images) /

The LA Kings are rumored to be in the market for two top-six forwards this offseason. Here are five names to consider in the free-agent market.

Drew Doughty‘s comments and general manager Rob Blake’s response in the year-end interview have generated excitement around the LA Kings organization this offseason. The past couple of offseasons have been rather uneventful, but it appears that may not be the case come July 28.

The Kings aren’t interested in trading 2020 second overall pick, Quinton Byfield. That’s not to say that other top prospects will not be available this offseason, but it would seem to make some sense to sign a couple of unrestricted free agents instead of trading assets to acquire scoring help.

Here are five best fits to consider when the free agency period officially opens.

1. Gabriel Landeskog

Despite the disappointing ending to the Avalanche’s season, Landeskog will be one of the most coveted free agents on the market. The Colorado captain turns 29 in November and has scored at least 20 goals in the last five seasons. The Stockholm, Sweden native would be an upgrade in several areas as he has proven to be an asset on the man advantage as well.

Most recently, Landeskog tallied nine goals and six assists in 54 games during the 2021 season. For what’s worth, Evolving Hockey projects his next contract to be seven years at an $8.8M AAV. I doubt the Kings would want to commit that kind of term. Three or four years would seem to make more sense, so it all depends if Landeskog’s camp would be willing to accept that.

2. Alexander Wennberg

Part of an upstart Panthers group, Wennberg could be a sneaky good signing this offseason. The 26-year-old, also from Stockholm, enjoyed a widely successful year in Florida, scoring 17 goals and 29 points in 56 games. However, he shot the puck at an unsustainable 20.7 percent clip, so any potential contract should proceed cautiously. He’s primarily played center throughout his career, with starts along the wing sprinkled in. Wennberg would be a better fit at the wing in Los Angeles.

“He is reliable defensively, always on the right play,” Panthers head coach Joel Quenneville said of Wennberg via Florida Hockey Now. “You are comfortable with him knowing that you’re getting offense and defense. Now you’re getting the offense. He can surprise goalies with that quick release. Lot of pace on his shot. … He’s under the radar. We’ve really appreciated his game.”

LA Kings Free Agency Alex Wennberg
(Photo by Joel Auerbach/Getty Images) /

3. Brandon Saad

This isn’t the first time we’ve mentioned Brandon Saad being a good fit for the LA Kings this offseason. He tallied 15 goals and 24 assists in just 44 games and missed the final 11 games of the regular season with a lower-body injury.

However, it didn’t affect him at all, as the 28-year-old went off in the postseason, recording seven goals and an assist in the Avs ten playoff games. He has valuable postseason experience and would be a welcome veteran presence on a Kings team looking for more consistency in the goals department.

4. Zach Hyman

The Maple Leafs are reportedly interested in bringing Hyman back next year and beyond. The 29-year-old has been a consistent 15+ goal forward in four consecutive seasons. He also likes to shoot the puck, eclipsing an average 14.0 percent clip since the 2017-18 campaign.

Hyman is also a strong puck possession forward, with nearly a 52.0 CorsiFor percentage since entering the league. Evolving Hockey projects his next contract at a four-year term at a $5.3M AAV, aligning with what the Kings appear to be in the market for.

5. Mikael Granlund

Granlund was on the trade block before the deadline, but Nashville held onto the 30-year-old forward. Now, he can sign with whomever he sees fit, and the LA Kings on a bridge deal makes a lot of sense. The former ninth overall pick in 2010 potted 13 goals and 14 assists in 51 games last season.

He’s scored at least 15 goals every year since the 2016-17 season and shot the puck at a 17.6 shot rate in his most recent campaign. He’s projected to fetch a three-year contract at a $5.0M AAV, which would be an even better fit than Hyman.