Today marked just the latest in a long line of days where social media is filled with questions surrounding the LA Kings summer roster plans.
‘Would (insert player name here) be a good fit for LA?’ is one of the more common tweets we get these days. It’s been a dizzying off-season thus far, filled with a barrage of questions surrounding names like Eichel, Jones, Tarasenko, Hall, Landeskog, Martinez, Barrie, Hyman, etc.
Even this morning, Zach Parise and Ryan Suter were added into the mix.
With that in mind, below is a list of players I would target if I was the GM in Los Angeles. This isn’t a list of who the Kings are targeting. Mayor’s Manor is usually about reporting news, providing context to ongoing situations, explaining NHL rules for prospects or the Expansion Draft, etc. This is just an article full of opinion to satisfy those hockey fans with a never-ending thirst for trade chatter.
With the Kings sitting on an abundance of cap space, a deep prospect pool, and extra draft picks this year and next, they’re primed to explore nearly any trade or UFA options they fancy. As such, we’ve put together a list of possible targets — one from each NHL team.
We tried to be as realistic as possible when putting this list together.
Anaheim: Rickard Rakell, Forward
Seeing any trade between these two clubs is a rarity. Will EVP Jeff Solomon’s move to the Kings crosstown rival make it easier to get a deal done or harder? That remains to be seen. If the Kings and Ducks were to hook up on something this summer, Rakell is the guy who makes the most sense from an LA perspective. He’s scheduled to be a UFA next summer, and for whatever reason, there has been chatter Anaheim may be willing to move him. If so, the Kings would be aquiring a winger who can do it all; he’s versatile, can move up and down the line up, as needed. He’s one of those wingers nearly every team can use.
Arizona: Conor Garland, forward
We’ll try to make this as straightforward as possible so people don’t read between the lines and possibly come away with the wrong conclusion. There’s nothing wrong with Garland, yet the Kings don’t really need him now. It was Garland or Arvidsson, the Kings ended up with the latter and now it’s time to look elsewhere. If they ended up with Garland at this point, it wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world, just a bit redundant. Until the Coyotes make defenseman Jakob Chychrun available, the Coyotes are similar to a well-eaten carcass laying in the middle of the desert. Nearly all of the healthy meat has already been stripped off the bones.
Boston: Jake DeBrusk, forward
A second-generation player, here’s another interesting case of somebody said to be available at the right price. He’s been a consistent point producer, even though his goal totals dropped off for the Bruins in 2021. A change of scenery could do him some good, as he’s coming off a pretty poor season by his standards. Could be a low-risk, high-reward type move. DeBrusk is almost exactly what you want in a middle-6 player – he plays a heavy game, is mobile, and can make plays at both ends of the ice.
Buffalo: Sam Reinhart, forward
For the three people left who haven’t read our earlier report, LA and Eichel aren’t a good match for the reasons laid out here.
Now, Reinhart is a different story. He’s versatile, a consistent point producer and could be just the winger they’re looking for right now. The deal could get tricky, especially as the offers for Eichel seem to be drying up, Sabres management could be looking for an above market haul for the 25-year-old Reinhart. I don’t see any way the Kings would trade their first round pick this year in a package for Reinhart, so they’ll have to do something pretty creative.
Calgary: Noah Hanifin, defenseman
With plenty of questions currently surrounding the Flames roster, there just might be an opportunity here, where GM Rob Blake can step in and pounce. One could argue he hasn’t lived up to expectations in Calgary, yet the Kings would still be getting a guy who is 6-foot-3, a left shot, and can provide 30 points a season. At 24 years old and with 400 NHL games played, there is still plenty of runway in front of him, yet those six years of NHL experience also would make him a solid addition to the LA blueline.
The heartbreaker in Calgary is that Matthew Tkachuk can’t be pried loose yet. He’s a unicorn in the NHL these days, so much so that he’s probably one of the rare forwards I’d push my chips to the center of the table for. You go all-in to make that deal if you even think there’s a small chance it could happen.
And before you ask, Johnny Gaudreau is a no. Fine player, I just don’t see how the future contract situation plays into LA’s master plan. He’s 27 years old and in the final year of a deal that pays him $6.75M per season. Again, fine player. Not somebody I’d be looking to lockup long-term with a big money deal next summer.
Carolina: Warren Foegele, forward
As with several players on this list, Foegele is sort of the player by default. We’d pass on Dougie Hamilton in this exercise and, unfortunately, Jaccob Slavin realistically feels like too big of a stretch – even with the Kings being able to load up any potential deal to entice Canes GM Don Waddell.
In Foegele, the Kings would be scooping up somebody low on Carolina’s depth chart, with the hope he could take on a bigger role in LA. There’s certainly some risk in the deal, so the price couldn’t be much. You’d be gambling on giving more minutes to a middle-6 forward and hoping he produces more offense. All said, Carolina probably wouldn’t be a good trade partner with LA right now. Would young defenseman Jake Bean be a more enticing option? Possibly. His 44 games at the NHL level provide more questions than answers. Will he turn into something better than he’s shown thus far? It’s certainly possible. You just have to have more confidence when you’re trading for a 23-year-old former first round pick who is really just starting out his NHL career.
Chicago: Nikita Zadorov, defenseman
Here’s a slice of deep dish truth, the choices in the Windy City were a tad limited. Zadorov gets the nod because at least his 6-foot-6 frame would give the Kings some size. His offense would likely be as nil as what was found in Al Capone’s vault, but he would bring size. Did we mention his height yet? A physical, left shot defenseman. The Kings could certainly do a lot worse. They could also opt for Blackhawks rearguard Adam Boqvist, a 5-foot-11 right-shot. Maybe somebody thinks he has more upside than Kale Clauge? Given the Kings already have Clague and they’d be giving up assets to acquire Boqvist, this one doesn’t pass the smell test.
Colorado: Brandon Saad, forward
This is one of the more no-brainer deals on the list. He’s the ideal bridge player and would come in as Unrestricted Free Agent (UFA). He’ll likely command a decent sized contract on the open market, but that’s acceptable because the Kings have plenty of cap space right now. He’s proven to be a consistent 20+ goal scorer and a playoff performer. Would likely be excellent playing wing with either Kopitar, Byfield, or Vilardi. Not the flashiest player, but he’ll more than get the job done.
If you were wanting me to put Gabriel Landeskog here that means you don’t think the Avalanche will find a way to sign him; which is an opinion I don’t share at the moment.
Columbus: Seth Jones, defenseman
Let’s start with Patrik Laine, he’s a no and didn’t receive consideration. And that’s even with the fact that Seth Jones is a round peg in a square hole for what LA is trying to do. That said, it will be tough to get somebody better than Jones over the next 12 months. To make this deal work roster-wise, the Kings would need to include Matt Roy or Sean Walker in the deal (or have another move in their back pocket) because they’d need to clear a spot for Jones on the right side. Jones also comes with two additional considerations. First, to get him out of Columbus the Blue Jackets would likely be looking for a package featuring a young NHL defenseman (think: Toby Bjornfot), a young prospect (think: Alex Turcotte), and a first round pick. Second, Jones is a UFA next summer and the Kings aren’t in the market for a rental. They’d need to know they could sign him long-term.
Dallas: Jamie Oleksiak, defenseman
Without skates, Oleksiak is 6-foot-7, so he’d bring some size like the Kings have never really had on the blueline before. A defense-first player, he also has some nastiness in his game. Although he’s not really going to add much offense to the Kings attack, that’s perfectly fine. He fits the mold of a bridge defenseman we’ve mentioned in a few radio spots and on Kings of The Podcast; he wouldn’t be the sought after LD1. Oleksiak would be more of a tweener between LD2 and LD3, lending solid depth to LA’s blueline and providing them with some aspects they don’t currently have on the roster or down in Ontario. If I was GM, I’d always be looking for something extra and Oleksiak gives you just that. He was a big part of the Stars run to the Stanley Cup Final in 2020. Now a free agent, this has that Rob Scuderi feel to it, where you go out and spend the money — even if you have to overpay — to get what you need.
Detroit: Tyler Bertuzzi, forward
If the two Hall of Fame players turned GMs were to connect on a deal this summer, Bertuzzi should absolutely be the player involved. A 26-year-old left wing who plays with energy and aggression, he also puts up points. Some might say he’s a poor man’s Matthew Tkachuk. And that’s a high compliment. We first suggested the idea of Bertuzzi to LA several months ago on Kings Of The Podcast and we’re back to double down on the idea. He’s a Restricted Free Agent (RFA) this summer with the Red Wings and is eligible to become a UFA next summer, so the price won’t be peanuts. However, as noted, GM Rob Blake has plenty of assets at his disposal. Add in the fact the Kings would like to move up in the Draft next week (more on that in a separate article), and the idea becomes even more intriguing, as Steve Yzerman is Blake’s most likely trade partner among the seven teams slotted to pick ahead of him. So think big and put a package together that gets LA the two things they’re looking for this summer. It’s possible if you get creative. This would be one of my top three targets.
Edmonton: Evan Bouchard, defenseman
Even though there is some intrigue here, as a right shot defenseman, Bouchard wouldn’t be one of the guys high on my list. He’s 6-foot-3 and could be an underrated prospect with potential. His 14 games in Edmonton this season came after a solid 2019-20 rookie campaign in the AHL. He can provide offense, as well as handle things defensively. This move would be a swing on potential. Even though he’s a former first round pick, without a larger body of work at the pro level, he still could be anything from a grand slam to a single. Fortunately, he wouldn’t be a strikeout, though. We’ve seen enough to be interested. In the end, he still might be too young for what LA needs right now, as they’re looking for more NHL experience.
While Darnell Nurse is overrated by many, he’d certainly help the LA blueline. We just don’t see the Oilers trading him right now. If they don’t get very far in their current contract talks and/or their season doesn’t provide the success they’re looking for, maybe the idea of moving him opens up.
Florida: Jonathan Huberdeau, forward
Here’s the reality – Florida isn’t looking to move a guy like Huberdeau, especially considering they more likely think they’re one player away from being a legitimate threat in their division. Fine, accepted. But the only other potential Panthers candidate would be MacKenzie Weegar and he just doesn’t do much for me. If LA needed another right shot defender, they have plenty in their pipeline.
Minnesota: Kevin Fiala, forward
Like the Panthers above, players on the Minnesota roster probably don’t align with LA’s needs at the moment – or at least not in a realistic way. RFA Kevin Fiala would be the guy to go after given his speed and puck handling capabilities, yet he most likely isn’t going to be available (unless things completely go sideways this summer during contract negotiations). They could go after left wing Jordan Greenway instead; he’d be more of a third-line upgrade, providing offense in a checking role.
NOTE: There was some late breaking news this morning, as the Wild opted to buy out the contracts of Zach Parise and Ryan Suter. In the former, you’re looking at a 37-year-old forward who saw a steep drop off in his production coming out of the long 2020 layoff. There should be plenty of warning signs that would keep LA away. Out on the blueline, Suter has been remarkably consistent throughout his career and getting another 40-point season out of him would help LA’s pedestrian offense. At 36 years old and with 1,200 NHL games played, he’d need to be plan B or C for the Kings, even on a one-year deal to buy them some time. You’d think he’d prefer to go to a Cup contender at this point.
Montreal: Joel Armia, forward
You would think on a team that just went to the Stanley Cup Final there would be more than a handful of intriguing players to talk about, yet there really isn’t. Armia is a decent fourth line player who plays hard. He gets the nod here by default more than anything else on the Canadiens. Tomas Tatar is highly overrated and when a guy is already on his third team you start to get concerned. He’s that guy — and there are even a few of these in LA — who occasionally shows you flashes of brilliance, while more often leaves you wanting more. So, no thanks.
And for the ‘LA should have just kept Toffoli’ crowd, we can agree to disagree. Nobody was a bigger champion for Toffoli in the years following LA selecting him in the 2010 NHL Draft. We probably even chronicled the early part of his pro career more than any other outlet. Even so, you make the Toffoli trade all day long. The Kings received a rock solid return for a player who had gone as far as he could within the Kings organization. Good on him for the success he found in LA and thanks to Toff for coming on Kings Of The Podcast a few months ago. We had fun reminiscing.
Nashville: Filip Forsberg, forward
Set to become a UFA next summer, Forsberg and the Predators are something to keep an eye on over the next 12 months. He’ll be looking for a long-term deal and a pay increase from his current $6M salary. In return, LA would be getting a production machine, good for 25-30 goals a season. And he’s a right shot winger who scores goals and makes plays. The Kings have quietly been building a Swedish Army with Kempe, Bjornfot, Arvidsson, etc. and Forsberg would instantly step to the front of the pack. He has potential superstar written all over him, as he can change a team’s fortunes.
New Jersey: Will Butcher, defenseman
If we were to rank the teams and/or deals on this list in numerical order instead of alphabetically, any possible link to the Devils would slot into the bottom three. We just don’t see much there to work with. Butcher hasn’t been as productive of a player as he was in his rookie year, when he put up 44 points, but he’s still a top-4 LHD on a bad team who could use a change of scenery. He’s also due to become a UFA next summer.
New York Islanders: Adam Pelech, defenseman
A 6-foot-3, left shot defenseman? I’m listening, continue. He’s 26-years-old with five years of NHL experience? OK, now we’re getting somewhere. Wait, he’s more of a defensive player, with very limited offensive upside? Now we found the rub. Given what LA management tells us they’re looking for, he may not be their ideal candidate. However, we’d suggest he’s worth another look. Pelech has quietly formed a solid pairing with Ryan Pullock. Now, he’s also an RFA, so likely looking for a big payday from an Islanders team that doesn’t have much cap room. And that’s why I’d be calling and pushing to get something done here. The Kings starting six defenseman don’t share the same skill sets as Pelech.
New York Rangers: Ryan Lindgren, defenseman
Look, do you want realistic or pie-in-the-sky? Sure, the better names here would be K’Andre Miller or Pavel Buchnevich. The Rangers aren’t dealing either guy, so let’s at least keep our feet on the ground during this exercise. Lindgren is a good young defenseman with some potential leadership ability. Although he’s a left shot, at 6-foot tall, he doesn’t bring enough size to really perk my interest. It wouldn’t be a bad trade, nor would it be eye-popping.
Ottawa: Connor Brown, forward
He only has two years remaining on his contract before becoming a UFA, so he could be an ideal short-term bridge player in Los Angeles. Coming off a breakout year with the Senators, Brown is also one of their more attractive trade assets, making any potential deal here questionable. For the Kings, they shouldn’t overpay to get a get who’d slot in as a middle-6 guy.
Philadelphia: Travis Sanheim, defenseman
Pittsburgh: Jason Zucker, forward
Now we’re getting to the fun stuff. I wouldn’t be calling Ron Hextall for Zucker’s offensive abilities. I’d be calling because of the contract. He has two years remaining at a $5.5M AAV. With plenty of cap space, LA can look to take on the contract (and maybe even bury it) all in the name of assets. What can I convince the Penguins to give up in exchange for taking that money off their books? Zucker wouldn’t be a top-6 player in LA. He might not even play on the third line, so this is all about weaponizing LA’s cap space. I’d most likely want Pierre-Olivier Joseph in the deal. He’s 6-foot-2, a second-year pro, and didn’t seem to be utilized properly in Pittsburgh this season. Allegedly, they’re already interested in moving him, so that’s a little worrisome. Hextall is a good evaluator of talent, he must know something we don’t.
San Jose: Timo Meier, forward
A good top-6 forward with two years remaining on his current contract, carrying a $6M AAV. He’ll be an RFA when it expires in 2023. Not that the Sharks are looking to move him; but if they were, he’s the guy to go after.
St. Louis: Jaden Schwartz, forward
One of the rare UFAs on our list, we’ve been suggesting the idea of Schwartz to LA for months now. Sure, there’s a little bit of risk in the deal, yet we think the skills strongly sway toward the positive. Schwartz could be a Justin Williams-like addition, a proven playoff performer who has had some injury issues, but has demonstrated he can be a significant contributor when healthy. He’s someone who might be worth gambling on with a two-year contract, as he’s a goal scorer and that’s what the Kings need. With the Kings looking to turn the corner this coming season, this is the type of player they need to help get over the hump. In a normal summer, he might not even be a legit option for the Kings given the potential cost of a new deal. With the expected depressed market due to the flat cap and many teams on a tight budget, this could be one of those perfect storms that ends up favoring the Kings.
Tampa Bay: Mikhail Sergachev, defenseman
No real explanation needed. There’s your dynamic, young, left shot guy. Now go convince Julien BriseBois you have the right package to pry him out of Tampa Bay. Go all in. Make it happen.
It’s worth noting this won’t be as easy as it sounds. Sergachev could be part of Tampa Bay’s cap casualty, but he’s likely the last name they will look to move. All of the other contracts that they’re going to attempt to move have NTC’s, but Sergachev does not have one. He’ll also be due for a new contract as an RFA in 2023. The Lightning have to lock up Brayden Point too, who will become an RFA next summer. If Sergachev is completely off the table, push equally has hard for Point.
Toronto: Auston Matthews, forward
Don’t laugh. Phone calls are free to make. If the Kings were ever to look at getting him, it’s now – not when he’s a free agent in three more years. The Maple Leafs once again find themselves in cap hell and maybe — just maybe — you can convince them a large package in return is worth considering. Sure, the idea of them moving Matthews this summer is beyond slim. Even so, Zach Hyman is reportedly looking for a long-term deal and that’s not happening with the Kings. Solid player and a good guy to have in your lineup, similar to Alex Iafallo in many ways, just not that top-of-the-food chain difference maker. Don’t settle on Mitch Marner if you’re going big, you call about Matthews.
Vancouver: J.T. Miller, forward
For starters, we continue to hear the Canucks may be open to moving Brock Boeser. On the surface, that makes zero sense, so we’re going to discount it. Instead of feeding into another crazy idea coming off the Matthews notion above, we’ll at least attempt something more realistic. In Miller, the Kings would be getting a player with 500+ games of experience and somebody who has really taken off offensively over the past two seasons in Vancouver, showing he can play all three forward positions and score. Miller is only signed for two more years, at a more than manageable $5.25M AAV.
Vegas: Mattias Janmark, forward
We’re willing to overlook our ‘he’s already been on three teams’ guideline here. Janmark is 28 years and is coming off a season where he joined the Golden Knights at the Trade Deadline. Now a UFA, he would add to the Kings growing stable of Swedish players. As a middle-6 player in a flat cap period, he may see talks with various teams drag into the deeper waters of free agency. Again, this could be one of those opportunistic signings that favors LA.
Washington: Alexander Ovechkin, forward
He’s a free agent this summer. Is the 35-year-old winger leaving Washington? Almost certainly not. However, you have to kick the tires and see if there’s any interest in continuing the conversation. After Ovi, we’d be talking about Conor Sheary from the Capitals. Ovechkin is the type of name you just have to entertain, not only for the star factor, but because he does something no other Kings winger is capable of doing, which is score goals from anywhere on the ice.
Winnipeg: Josh Morrissey, defenseman
Jets fans will probably tell you they aren’t looking to move a guy sitting on the left side of their top defensive pairing. This is expected to be a strange summer, though. And don’t discount the fact Winnipeg is probably scratching their head wondering what they need to do to make that Stanley Cup Final so many have been predicting the past few years. In general, Morrissey could be classified on the underrated side of the ledger. Analytics folks like him. He won’t change a game like Drew Doughty can, but he won’t cost you many games either. A bit of a Willie Mitchell-esque player, just without the size. It’s definitely worth exploring something with Winnipeg, even if the odds are long to start with.
We’d also pass on Pierre-Luc Dubois. The only way he’d even get slight consideration is on a bargain deal that was just too good to pass on. Even if you want to look past the whole debacle in Columbus, there’s likely too much risk in the deal just from a dollar and cents standpoint. First, you have to give up several assets to get him. He’s an RFA next summer. If he pans out the first season in LA, you’re probably looking at a big money, long-term deal in LA without a real track record to base the case on. If you try to save money by getting in front of it and signing him to a deal early, then you’re really doubling down if he doesn’t work out. Can he return to his 60-point form? Let another team find out.
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