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 Alec Martinez
(Photo by Justin Heiman/Getty Images) /

The defense.

Like the offense, the LA Kings defense certainly struggled to produce points last season. As it currently stands, here is what the Kings defense will probably look like on the opening night of the 2021-22 season.

Anderson – Doughty

Clague – Roy

Bjornfot – Walker

Extras: Maatta and MacDermid with Hults, Durzi, Strand, and Moverare waiting in the wings in Ontario. For what it’s worth, I expect Maatta to end up on waivers by the end of training camp.

Now here is where it can get tricky to upgrade the defense. Many believe that the Seattle Kraken will select Kale Clague in the expansion draft. With his skating ability and offensive potential, it was hoped he could help provide some spark from the blueline next season – something Maatta and MacDermid could not do (shameless plug alert, here’s an article about a potential landing spot for MacDermid LA Kings: Why Kurtis MacDermid is perfect for the NY Rangers). If Clague is indeed taken, it will leave a hole that will need to be filled from outside the organization.

It is well known that LA Kings General Manager Rob Blake wants a “young, dynamic, left-shot defenseman.” The problem is there are not too many of those available, and 31 other NHL teams want one as well. To bring one in will cost the Kings dearly in prospects and draft capital, so perhaps the better way to go would be the free-agent route.

The first name that comes to mind is Dougie Hamilton from the Carolina Hurricanes. The twenty-eight-year-old is an offensive dynamo who would certainly help boost the Kings’ offense. The problem with Hamilton is that he is a right-shot defenseman, a position where LA is pretty well set. Another issue is this is the contract where he is going to want to be paid big money.

If Jacob Trouba could get an $8 million AAV from the New York Rangers, flat cap or no flat cap, Dougie Hamilton should be able to get at least that and most likely more. Another long-term, high-dollar AAV could hinder the LA Kings’ ability to improve the team once the prospects are off their ELC’s.

Another option the Kings should consider is Alec Martinez – and you guessed it, there is an article about this as well: The LA Kings could and should bring back Alec Martinez. If Clague is gone like we think he will be, there will be pressure on the remaining Kings defensemen to provide offense this season.

The good news is the young defensemen the team has now have a season of experience under their belts, and someone like Martinez would provide leadership and stability, allowing someone like Sean Walker, for example, to spread his wings offensively. Let’s assume Clague is gone, and Martinez is brought back. Here’s what the revamped LA Kings defense would look like.

Anderson – Doughty

Martinez – Walker

Bjornfot – Roy

Extras: MacDermid, callup from Ontario, Maatta (pick one)

While it doesn’t provide a huge offensive spark, Martinez would stabilize the defense. It also gives the Kings the flexibility to put together a shutdown pair like Martinez – Doughty or Martinez – Roy. Some think Martinez would never leave Vegas given the success the team has had, but here’s the thing, it appears that spending like drunken sailors in port has finally caught up to the Golden Knights.

They only have $2.4 million in cap space available, so unless they trade away some other pieces, they won’t be able to afford to bring Martinez back. The Kings could bring him back on a three-year, $4 million AAV contract to hold the fort, so to speak, until the rest of their defensive prospects are ready. It may seem like a lot, but remember, Brown and Quicks contracts will be coming off the books, and the prospects are still on their ELC’s, so there is a lot of financial flexibility available.

Bringing in Nugent-Hopkins, DeBrusk, and Martinez should cost the Kings just under $15 million with only one contract considered to be long-term (Nugent-Hopkins). This plan does not have a “big splash,” so to speak. It does improve the team without losing any of their big-name prospects while giving them additional time to develop. Ultimately, seeing all of the LA Kings’ highly touted prospects come to fruition is what we all want to see, right?

Of course, there’s always the option of acquiring a forward as well. See below.