While the Kings didn’t qualify for postseason action in 2021, the next few months still have plenty of potential to create an exciting summer for LA’s fanbase. They stand to once again add a Top-10 selection in the NHL Draft, one that will further solidify the team’s burgeoning pipeline of prospects. And with plenty of assets and cap space at his disposal, GM Rob Blake is poised to make additions to his roster that could pay more immediate dividends next season.
The latter portion of that intro was a key theme in Drew Doughty’s exit interview last week. Today, Blake had an opportunity to respond to his star defenseman and share some additional related comments.
Blake on Doughty saying he doesn’t want to wait for prospects to develop, would prefer the Kings to add players now
Well, we want to get better. And there’s a reason you put yourself in a position to get better. There are some summers where you may not be able to do that. We have an advantage to step forward this year and make this team better. Now, we are going to continue to see young guys filter into the lineup and we’re going to see them develop, that’s not going to change. But we will take necessary steps to get better.
On if he doesn’t bring in established players, is this team right now good enough to make the postseason next year
It wasn’t this year, obviously, right? So, yeah, we need to add to it. Now, you do get a full season of gaining experience through some players. But we need to add to this roster to get better.
On how much weight is placed on a player like Doughty saying he wants to play with Mikey Anderson, or other players saying they want to play with Alex Iafallo
I think we’re all on the same page, where we need to improve. Who plays with who and who wants to play with certain guys? That’s a common communication, daily, between the players and the coaching staff, coaching staff and management, etc. It’s communicated. You try different things that some may feel would work; and when you try something different it may actually looks better the other way. Again, that’s common communication daily throughout the season.
On if there was a point in the season where his thoughts or evaluation of this year’s team changed
No, not at all. I think we were putting ourselves in a pretty good position early. You look at the trade deadline, and Todd referenced the records. I think we were 5-11 after and in the 16 previous games we were 6-10, so not a lot of difference. But enough to establish that it was going to be a difficult chore to get in the playoffs. They played well enough and hard enough to stay in the mix for a while. The difference here being the last four or five games when you’re officially out. I’m not sure that’s a true sense of the compete level we needed from our players.
On the Kings roster configuration moving forward and if he’ll be more focused on adding younger players vs. established vets prior to next season
This summer is very important, as it always is. I think it’s a step further in the direction we want to get to, where we want to progress and get better. We’re gonna take the necessary steps this summer. We put ourselves in a pretty good position to do that. Regarding age groups and players, a lot of it will be where it fits in our lineup. Like I said, we’re further ahead this year, understanding where some of the certain holes may be and we’re a year further on the progression of some of the players. So we understand that better.
On how much he’s expecting to see the experience gained by young players payoff next season
They’re young. We’re not going to put them in the NHL until we know they’re ready. We’ll get a taste, we’ll understand it, and we’ll want to [push them] further along our development. The players need to evolve and they need to fall naturally with our development and be able to fit in. But we’re in a position now where we can surplus that. We can add to that group. That’s where I said we want to be able to get better. Drew’s comments are a hundred percent; it’s the same feeling up here. It’s not like we don’t want to get any better. We are all on the same page, where now we can take the necessary steps. We can filter in young players, we can develop them, bring them in when they’re ready, and surplus them with quality NHL players to take a step forward.
We’ll have more from Blake coming up throughout the day.
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