REPORT: What to Expect From the LA Kings in Free Agency

After the longest Draft in NHL history (or at least it felt like it), teams around the league will not get their usual break before the Free Agent market opens. This time around, things kick off less than 48 hours later, with the Free Agent window opening on Friday.

In Los Angeles, GM Rob Blake will be looking to make a few moves. To understand their needs, first take a look at what the team is presently working with:

GOALTENDING

LA is set in net at the NHL level. However, they’re interested in adding a little experience to go along with prospect Matt Villalta in the American League. Doing so has multiple advantages, including giving the 21-year-old netminder a veteran player to help mentor him. Additionally, it would provide the Kings with some experience to lean on should one of their NHL guys become injured. Also, a move like this would allow first-year pro Jacob Ingham an opportunity to play regular games in the ECHL, rather than ride the pine in Ontario. One other possibility could see him returning to the OHL as an overager; yet we’d consider that a longshot at this point.

Names that could be options to patrol the Reign crease: envision somebody more like Keith Kinkaid and Jon Gillies, less like Mike Smith or Craig Anderson.

Overall, the Kings goaltending pipeline is healthy, it’s just a few years away from making an impact. See here for the organization’s depth in net.

DEFENSEMEN

Already holding eight defenders fighting for seven spots at the NHL, look for a depth move or two to add somebody on the right side — just more likely as an AHL player. Think of him as a replacement for Paul LaDue, who was not offered a new contract. Again, it would be a move to provide additional depth to the organization and allow prospects Sean Durzi and Austin Strand more time to develop in the AHL should they need to call somebody up to the NHL next season.

If you’re scouring lists of available players to fill this role (UFAs and RFAs recently not extended contracts by their respective clubs), the Kings will be exploring the market for a third pairing D – similar to Madison Bowey, Chris Wideman, and Korbinian Holzer. Looking at more recent two-way contract types, that list would likely include names such as Cody Goloubef, Mark Alt, Tyler Lewington, and Jake Dotchin.

For additional notes on Durzi, see here.

FORWARDS

This is where the Kings could make the biggest news. However, pump the brakes, nobody is talking Taylor Hall. They’re in the market for a forward or two who would challenge guys like Carl Grundstrom, Trevor Moore, and Matt Luff for bottom six spots.

From a contract perspective, look for this to be a short-term bridge player. We’re told it should be in the one or two year range. Our ballpark estimate would be in the 2M AAV range.

Some of the names who could meet this spec include: Nick Cousins, Dominik Kahun, Melker Karlsson, Tyler Ennis, Drake Caggula, and Matt Nieto.

One name missing from the above roster projection is newly acquired forward Lias Andersson. While anything could change once there is a more clear path to an NHL start date, the original plan called for him to remain in Sweden when he was assigned there by the New York Rangers. It’s believed the Kings will follow a similar course and look to bring him over next summer. Only time will tell.

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