For the first time in several years, the LA Kings hosted a huge event for season ticket holders alike. It was sort of a HockeyFest x Meet the Players x State of the Franchise event all rolled into one big shindig. As part of the festivities, GM Rob Blake met with the gathered media to share thoughts on a myriad of topics – largely centered around Mikey Anderson’s new 8-year contract and the upcoming Trade Deadline. Below are his comments:
Blake on the signing of Mikey Anderson to an 8-year extension:
I think it was the best thing. We have a really good understanding of who Mikey is. He’s risen to being a real capable defender against top offensive players in the league. He’s real low maintenance, shows up every day. He’s a big part of the leadership going forward with our group too. We felt that commitment over time, he will do the same. He is going to come in every day and do his job for us.
On if the conversation was always about going 8 years or if other proposals were exchanged:
Last summer was a little different because of his positioning [as an RFA without arbitration rights]; we knew the cap structure and everything. Once we got into the season, the talks went back and forth on term, in that aspect. We were comfortable with his age, that term, and service through the good years throughout his career.
[ed. note: Blake also confirmed the contract also includes limited No Trade protection in the latter years]
The #LAKings signed 23 y/o LD Mikey Anderson to 8 year $4.125M Cap Hit Deal:
Year 1: $1.6M Salary & $2M Signing Bonus
Years 2-8: $4.2M Salary
Includes 10 team No trade List in Years 4-8
Deal covers 3 RFA & 5 UFA Years
— PuckPedia (@PuckPedia) February 15, 2023
On making this type of long-term commitment to Anderson:
With Mikey right now, you see him partnered with Drew, playing against the best players in the league, that’s what he does on a nightly basis. He’s anywhere from 20-23 minutes a night and that role solidified what he is, we’ve got a good idea of that. I think you’re going to see more of his leadership and his command and I’ve seen him get a little more physical as the years went on. I think once he got one or two years in the league, he started to understand his abilities there.
On Anderson’s leadership qualities:
He’s been vocal in that group, right from day one. He had a pedigree of being a captain in college and you do see that come out. The guys played a little joke on him with his jersey during practice [after the new deal was signed], but he’s just the type of player who put it on and went out and practiced. I think the guys had fun with him because they really enjoy having him around.
On Anderson defensively and his ability to frustrate top players, like Leon Draisaitl in the playoffs and Sidney Crosby more recently:
He skates really well and he gives those guys a little bit of trouble, but he’ll also stand up to the physicality of that. I think any time top players are playing against those tough defenders it gets frustrating over time. We’ve seen Mikey take big steps in that regard. We’re comfortable with him out there against those guys.
On if he’s seen another young player with such great communication style:
A good word is presence. He does have that presence, immediately when he walks in. He had that in college too, so it’s been around him and part of his game. I saw a big difference when we brought him in [for his NHL debut, late in the season], then the next season you saw the physical element start coming too. Not only, ‘I can play against them, I can defend them, I can skate well enough, I can defend them’ but now you’re starting to see the physical challenge too and I think he likes that ability to do that.
On Anderson’s potential offensive ceiling moving forward:
That will come with the steps. The one thing is, he really works on his game in the offseason — whether it’s going to be his shot or doing video to see where he can be offensively. He’s real smart, hockey-sense wise, on the defending side and that should transition. He skates well and everything. That would be the rounding out in his game. I think he’s made his basis with what he’s going to do; he’s going to defend first and foremost and we can explore the others.
More on Anderson:
We had a [dinner] for Dustin Brown on the Wednesday night prior to his jersey retirement. Nelson Emerson and I were there at the end and some of our younger players were coming by and I introduced them to Matty. After Mikey came by, Nelson said, there goes a younger Matty Norstrom. Basically, what both of them do is they complement the player they’re playing with, and they help them. I always knew Matty would do the exact same job every day [when I played with him] and I’m sure Drew looks over at Mikey — and when he says he enjoys playing with him, it’s because he understands what kind of job he’ll do every night for him.
On recently signing Pheonix Copley to a one-year extension:
I think he’s been able to come in and solidified that spot in net for us, his win-loss record has been really good over that time. Just looking at our goaltender situation going forward, we only had one goalie under contract next year. To step in there and get him under contract, it gives us an ability there in the net.
On Cal Petersen’s performance thus far in the AHL:
He’s been good, both he and Matty [Villalta]… the overall team save percentage [which is leading the AHL]. He’s been getting the wins, the goals against over the last four or five games are down. That was the whole purpose, he had to play. If he wasn’t going to play up here, we wanted to get him in as many games as possible because we still feel like he can help our franchise.
On his interest in adding at the Trade Deadline:
We’d like to, if it fits the right way. I think we’re real comfortable with where we are sitting right now. I think the guys have played well. Getting these injured guys back I think solidifies the forward group and how they slot in there. We really haven’t had that since probably the first couple weeks of the season, that’ll be nice to get that going. I think every team, come the Deadline, they’re always exploring all different options and if there’s something out there. But the one thing to be clear, it has to make our team better. We’re not taking away from this team [anymore].
On if he believes the Kings are Stanley Cup contenders right now:
I think we can compete with some of the top teams. We’ve shown that over the [season]. I think our defensive structure… I’d like to see this offensive group together for a little while. We have a big 27-28 games just to get in, so that’s the battle we’re looking at right now.
On what he sees in this year’s Kings team:
I think early in the year we battled with consistency, and we’ve taken a step in the right direction to shore that up. It’s not always easy putting players in and out of the lineup. I think Todd did a good job [of juggling that] and he’s talked about using the practice time of late, coming out of the break. Now, we’re into playing almost every other night. I think there’s more to our team. The one thing is, they play well with structure. And they’ve been up to challenges. We’ve been on tough trips, where we have one game left against a real good team – like we did against Boston, and they showed up against Carolina. Even to get a point out of that game, they showed a little bit of character that’s good for us.
On the difficulty in balancing letting younger players play and adding something from the outside:
I think a little bit of our balance is, can the younger players, the ones who are starting to solidify themselves in the lineup, is it better to let them keep going? You don’t want to bring something in that’s going to throw that mix off. I think we have a good mix right now and I think they’re real comfortable in Todd’s style. So, to bring anything in there, it has to improve our team without taking anything out of that lineup. It has to add to that team to make it better.
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