The Athletic recently identified a potential trade involving Maple Leafs defenseman Morgan Rielly for LA Kings forward Adrian Kempe.
It’s no secret that the LA Kings needed an offensive boost from the blue line last year. Outside of Drew Doughty, Kings defensemen accounted for just 11 goals in even-strength situations. If not for Sean Walker’s offensive surge toward the end of the season, that number looks even worse.
General manager Rob Blake made it clear that the organization is targeting a young, dynamic left-shot defenseman. They might be able to find one in an unlikely source.
Per The Athletic, the Kings could be a good trade partner with the Toronto Maple Leafs, swapping NHL players in defenseman Morgan Rielly for forward Adrian Kempe. Rielly, 27, is a former fifth overall pick and potted five goals with 30 assists in 55 games during the 2021 season.
The Vancouver, BC native is under contract for one more season before becoming an unrestricted free agent. Rielly has a modified no-trade clause, and I have no idea if the Kings are on that list. He comes at a very reasonable $5M cap hit next season, but Reilly’s camp would have to show some willingness to sign a long-term extension if acquired by Los Angeles.
He’s also hinted at potentially taking a hometown discount to remain in Toronto, so there’s that.
Kempe put together arguably his best season in a Kings’ uniform, prorated over an 82-game slate. The 24-year-old had 14 goals and 29 points in 56 games, playing up and down Todd McClellan’s lines.
Inconsistency largely defined his career before putting it all together in 2021, and he could thrive in Toronto playing with guys like Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner, and William Nylander.
- The Athletic also put together a few trade packages to acquire the services of Seth Jones. Aaron Portzline and Corey Pronman have the Kings acquiring the right-shot defenseman in exchange for Kempe, Akil Thomas, Tobias Bjornfot, and a lottery-protected 2022 first-round pick. Seems like an awful lot to give up for a guy entering the final year of his contract before hitting unrestricted free agency.
- According to The Fourth Period‘s Top 30 Trade Watch, the Kings are linked to a number of players – as you would expect – including forwards Jack Eichel, Conor Garland, Jake DeBrusk, and defenseman Vince Dunn. We’ve already discussed several of these.
- John Hoven of Mayor’s Manor indicates that whether the Kings acquire Jones or Zach Werenski, a player like Matt Roy or Sean Walker would have to be moved to accommodate protecting seven forwards, three defensemen, and one goalie.