Quick quotes from LA Kings GM Rob Blake following Day 1 of the NHL’s Free Agent Frenzy…
Blake on what led him to him Danault in free agency:
Positional, solidifying the middle. With Kopitar being here, in the situation that he is and the minutes he plays all over the ice, to be able to partner that as a 1-2 punch down the middle, with the younger centermen that we have coming through the next few years, we really feel we’ve solidified the middle of the ice there.
Blake on if this is a chance to spread out some of the heavy minutes Kopitar plays defensively:
That was the whole idea, to get better this summer. We want to build through the middle, the defense, and continue to get better at different positions of need. We just thought this was the right step for the organization.
On if adding Edler was a bridge deal to buy him some time to find that eventual young, dynamic LD1:
Yes. With Mikey Anderson and Toby Bjornfot, along with Olli Maatta last year, we had two really young defensemen come in and play big minutes, playing alongside Drew, playing against tough competition and everything. In Alex Edler we get a very solid veteran, capable of playing minutes; he plays a heavier style, and has played against top lines throughout his career. So, he really stabilizes that left side in the amount of minutes and the quality of opponents he can play against.
On the insurance Danault provides at 2C while younger players continue their development, and what this means short-term for Vilardi and Byfield – with maybe even sending the latter to the AHL to start next season:
I think you have an abundance of a young players that really only had a half a year in the American League last year. It takes time and you don’t want to put them in a position where they’re not prepared. We want to see them, when they do come into the lineup, they’re going to help us win. This allows us to do that, at that type of position. With adding Arvidsson in the summer, and now Danault and Edler, we didn’t dip into the prospect pool, per se. We have that, we can filter and we can project over the next few years how many and where they’re going to project in our lineup.
On if Vilardi is still a center or could he move to right wing:
We look at it, especially when we’ve drafted so many centermen over the years; but any team I’ve been involved with, I’ve seen centermen go the wings, I rarely see a winger go to the center. So there is no reason any of these centermen can’t go to the wing and find the right position. That’s kind of our philosophy here for the last few years. We’re going to put the best players in the lineup, we’ll filter them in in the positions that’s most suitable for them.
On Danault not being a big goal scorer and if the Kings expect more goals out of him next season:
I would say points. I think if you look at the even-strength points generated by him and how he generates those points, that’s kind of what we look at there. The combination — it’s well-talked about — being able to shut down top lines or top centermen on other teams and just the ability to roll with a Kopitar, then Danault, then whoever we pencil in at 3C and 4C. The ability to match with other teams was important also.
On if signing a 28-year old player for six years and adding a 35-year-old defenseman is an indication there is a mandate from ownership to win this season:
No, that’s our own mandate. We haven’t made it the last few years and we want to get better. We want to push and we want to have a legitimate chance of getting in there. And these were a couple steps in the direction to go that way.
On how hard it was to not dip into the prospect pool and make a different deal or two to make the team better:
I don’t know if it’s difficult; you look at all different scenarios and you have to be open to be able to get better. The situation we were in, we had to use draft picks to get Arvidsson. Then we went into the free agent market to fill a couple other needs on our team. So, we’ll explore that, but by the same token, we’ll get time to watch these prospects. Like I said, I don’t think it was a full American League season. We’ll be able to watch them grow, but we’ll also see our team and understand the needs as we go forward.
On what he’s seen from Edler the past few seasons:
He’s just a real solid defenseman. First and foremost, he’s a quality teammate. Anything we’ve heard since it’s come out that we’ve agreed to terms has all been about the quality, the type of teammate, the type of professional you’re going to get every day. He played big minutes in Vancouver, against tough competition, he’s always been very steady, very reliable. And he’ll give us that, especially when you have a combination of Mikey and Toby, at a relatively young age, playing much above their age; if you can surround them with good veterans like Olli and now with Alex, it definitely helps.
Text from a player who was teammates with Edler on the #Canucks — "Great guy. The boys are going to love him."
— John Hoven | The Mayor (@mayorNHL) July 28, 2021
On if he’s done or if there will be any more minor moves:
Maybe minor stuff. Obviously, with the limited space and contract numbers and players and things, we’re getting close to where the team is what we expect to put on the ice come training camp.
An AHL MVP and an AHL goaltender of the year are off the board, as per The Mayor. Huge additions for Ontario. https://t.co/1tgvRlHD6r
— PATRICK WILLIAMS (@pwilliamsAHL) July 28, 2021
On if he’ll continue to explore other options via the trade market this summer:
It’s hard to say. Things will come across, or pop up, that you have to explore. I don’t think it’s any different than any other time. If I said, is there a pressing need that we need to fill right now, probably not. I think we’re comfortable with the group that we feel we can ice come training camp.
On how the Athanasiou negotiations came together over the past few days:
The timing of the qualifying offer had to be put in, but we had also had a deal in place. That will be executed here soon. But I think what we had to do was get past that qualifying offer time. So that’s why we made the qualifying offer, understanding that we had agreed to a deal going forward.
On Danault mentioning the Kings presented him with very specific plans for his role:
This was about making the roster better. I think when you talk about the forwards, and Arvidsson and Danault, they’re obviously top-6 forwards. And the forwards will unfold in different combinations and things, as Todd sees fit when we go forward. I think Alex can play the minutes required of a top-4 defenseman and the situations required of that. How we distribute it, that’ll be taken by Todd. But, I think, what we were doing was improving our team in all those situations.
On Danault praising LA management on ‘selling him’ on coming to the Kings:
I’m not sure it’s a sales pitch. We went in and we explained exactly what our team was gonna look like this year, next year, and the year after, and the holes that we felt we needed to fill. We went over our prospects, we went over the ones we felt can get into our lineup, when they can push to get into our lineup, and what it would do to solidify the middle of the ice. Then, we basically let it go. I mean, we’ve sat here and we’ve done this for a number of years, but the different part here is, we’re actually now showing him how we’re gonna get better. And when and how we want to be competitive and move forward. It was just as exciting for us to be in that because it’s a much different approach than the last two years when we had to pull really, really top end players out of our lineup.
On if he’s connected with Doughty and Kopitar on these additions and how they’re reacting:
Kopi was here working out, so I talked to him. And Drew via text, he’s back home right now. But those conversations started right after the season with those two guys. I sat down and said, this is how we want to get better. I get it. I want to get better, you guys want to get better. We all do, as an organization. I wanted to show them what we wanted to do. I said, we need to fill a couple holes up front, we have to solidify the back end. And we went over the outcome and how we wanted to do it. We’ve all been on the same page there. Now it’s time to actually move forward. We have that in place now. Now we have to put that team on the ice to be competitive.
NOTE: For more details on ‘the plan’ moving forward, be sure to read the two articles linked below.
Note to webmasters/reporters: When recapping news or interviews from this site please remember to include a link to www.MayorsManor.com