The LA Kings and a sensible, economical off season plan

(Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
(Photo by Harry How/Getty Images) /
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LA Kings Rumors Ryan Nugent-Hopkins
LA Kings (Mandatory Credit: Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports) /

The forwards.

If opening night for the 2021-22 season, the LA Kings forwards group would look loosely like this.

Iafallo – Kopitar – Brown

Athanasiou – Vilardi – Kaliyev

Kempe – Byfield – Moore

Grundstrom – JAD – Andersson

Extras: choose two of either Lemieux, Wagner, Tkachev, or Lizotte.

I’m taking a guess here and predicting Arthur Kaliyev wins a roster spot out of training camp. Quinton Byfield will not be able to go to the AHL this season, so it’s either LA or back to junior hockey for him – and it’s highly unlikely he goes back to Sudbury of the OHL.

The Kings also have Rasmus Kupari, Alex Turcotte, Akil Thomas, Samuel Fagemo, Tyler Madden, and even Boko Imama (for some added toughness) waiting in the wings. Otherwise, this looks a lot like the same forward group that was much-maligned last season for not scoring enough goals.

Now, let’s go shopping!

I recently wrote an article about why the LA Kings should pursue Ryan Nugent-Hopkins of the Edmonton Oilers The 28-year-old can play either left-wing or center, providing some much-needed versatility in the lineup. Known to be an all situations player and a tremendous leader in the locker room.

Nugent-Hopkins is not the sniper on the wing that most believe the Kings need, but look at what is available in that category of the UFA market. Like I said earlier, forget Ovechkin, Landeskog, or Hall. Perhaps Mike Hoffman is more of a pure goal scorer, but he simply does not offer the all-around game or leadership that Nugent-Hopkins does.

With the prospects being on the start of their ELC’s and the Brown and Quick contracts coming off the books over the next two seasons, the Kings can afford to offer Nugent-Hopkins a four-year contract with a $7 million AAV – a reasonable offer considering the flat cap world were living in right now.

I also wrote another article about exploring the possibility of trading for Jake DeBrusk of the Boston Bruins.  It could certainly be a low-risk, high-reward type of move for the Kings.

The article highlights why it would benefit both the Bruins and Kings to work out a trade (and no, it does not involve Tyler Madden, as the Boston Globe suggests), but despite his struggles of the past season, DeBrusk has proven he can be a legitimate NHL player. He only has one year left on his contract that carries an AAV of $3.675 million.

With Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Jake DeBrusk in the fold, here are a couple of options for the 2021-22 season-opening forward line combinations.

Nugent-Hopkins – Kopitar – Brown

Kempe – Vilardi – Athanasiou

Iafallo – Byfield – Kaliyev

DeBrusk – JAD – Moore

Extras: Grundstrom, Lemieux, Wagner, Lizotte, Tkachev (pick two)


Kempe – Kopitar – Brown

Vilardi – Nugent-Hopkins – Kaliyev

Iafallo – Byfield – Athanasiou

DeBrusk – JAD – Moore

Extras: see above.

If the LA Kings bring in both Nugent-Hopkins and DeBrusk at the above-mentioned cap hits, it will leave $4,325,000 in salary cap space available to help upgrade the defense.