Manor Food for Thought: New LA Kings Lineup Suggestions


They see me rollin'. They hatin'.
Staff member

The following article is not based on any inside information, intel, hints, rumors, or something similar of the sort.

Instead, it’s more for entertainment and discussion.

Normally, Mayor’s Manor presents more fact-based articles. However, with the Kings off for more than a week due to the mandated All-Star break and the team’s annual bye-week, there has been a lot of discussion among the staff regarding two things — changes behind the bench and future line combinations.

We thought we’d pass some of the time by sharing what we’re thinking.

Essentially, we grouped our internal discussions around three key topics:

Keeping Dubois at Center​

When putting any sort of line combinations together, assumptions have to be made.

One of the key assumptions this season involves PL Dubois and Quinton Byfield. Who will play center, leaving the other to play wing?

When asked about Dubois on Monday, and how he’ll be used for the balance of this season, GM Rob Blake indicated he’ll likely be at center.

NOTE: Blake had a lot more to say about Dubois during his 30-minute press conference, see here for his full comments.

Going off the assumption Dubois slots into the lineup at pivot, the top three center spots get filled pretty quickly. There’s also the assumption Alex Turcotte will fill in for Blake Lizotte at 4C until further notice. It then came down to where should certain wingers go? We opted to leave at least leave one ‘known’ winger with each center; meaning, we attempted to leave a pair that had played together for a significant amount of time this season on each of the team’s top three lines.

Byfield – Kopitar – Kempe
Fiala – Danault – Laferriere
Moore – Dubois – Grundstrom
Lewis – Turcotte – Kaliyev

Those forward lines will be changing quite a bit as we get into our other scenarios in just a minute. Yet, our recommendations for defense and goaltending will hold true.

Gavrikov – Doughty
Anderson – Clarke
Roy – Spence

Rittich (starter)

Extras: Anderson-Dolan, Englund

Mikey Anderson and Drew Doughty are a known quantity. Given the team’s lackluster performance over the past 20 games, let’s really freshen things up a bit. Slide Vladislav Gavrikov up to play with Doughty, they should be able to really shut team’s down. Drop Anderson down with Clarke for a mobile, offensive thrust. This does push Matt Roy down to the third pair, but he should bring more defensive acumen to a new pair with Jordan Spence.

Another option on that third pair would be to leave Roy at RHD and play him with Andreas Englund. That would push Spence out of the lineup, something we just didn’t want to do for a team craving offense at the moment.

In goal, we’re starting David Rittich for the reasons explored in our recent analytics article:

Moving Dubois to Wing?​

Putting aside the comments above, we suggest moving Dubois to wing for the time being. It could take a little pressure off him, provide a temporary reset and give the coaching staff an all-new look by putting him with Phil Danault — something that hasn’t been tried yet this season.

With that one change comes some other shuffling too. For starters, we tried to hold true to our ‘ familiar pairs’ comment above for the top two lines here. Thus, Kempe stays with Kopitar, and Moore is now back with Danault. Additionally, this configuration has Fiala dropping down to play with Byfield. Grundstrom and Laferriere can be somewhat interchangeable here, based on preference. We preferred to get a little bit of a longer look with Laferriere up top. He skated a few games with Kopitar recently and didn’t look out of place. It also allowed Grundstrom — a player with more experience than No. 78 — to be the third player on LA’s all new line with Fiala and Byfield. Could JAD be the third winger, and have Grundstrom sit out? That’s an option too.

Laferriere – Kopitar – Kempe
Dubois – Danault – Moore
Fiala – Byfield – Grundstrom
Lewis – Turcotte – Kaliyev

In this scenario, the fourth line remained untouched. Although, we wouldn’t be opposed to moving Kaliyev up with Kopitar-Kempe. This trio has been tried before, it’s just never had a long enough run to really see if would work. We’re most intrigued by a potential pairing of Turcotte-Kaliyev. Even so, there’s no denying that putting Kaliyev in such an elevated role should get the player reengaged rather quickly.

In that type of configuration, we’d align things as follows:

Kaliyev – Kopitar – Kempe
Dubois – Danault – Moore
Fiala – Byfield – Laferriere
Lewis – Turcotte – Grundstrom

And, again, the defense and goaltending remains in tact from above because there is nothing new entering the equation at either position.

When Arvidsson Returns​

Viktor Arvidsson is expected to skate with the Kings at practice on Thursday, but is said to still be about another week away from being ready for game action. Assuming he doesn’t play on Saturday vs. the visiting Edmonton Oilers, the Kings would need to utilize one of the other lineups above. Once Arvidsson is game-ready, there will need to be a tweak.

The big question at that point is, where do you slot him in? Does Arvidsson get reunited with Danault and Moore, or does he slot in elsewhere?

Thinking ahead to when Arvidsson is activated off Injured Reserve is partially when we suggested moving Dubois to wing now — because we feel that’s the best place for him once Arvidsson returns. So, go ahead and make the move a game or two in advance. Let him settle in there right away coming out of the long break.

Laferriere – Kopitar – Kempe
Dubois – Danault – Moore
Fiala – Byfield – Arvidsson
Lewis – Turcotte – Kaliyev

While going with this lineup does mean that Grundstrom is a healthy scratch, it also has the least amount of disruption from Scenario B to Scenario C. Hiller would simply be taking one player out of the lineup to make room for Arvidsson.

If the Kings are insistent on leaving Dubois at 3C, though, we still have a suggestion on how to work Arvidsson back into the lineup (and it’s riffing off Scenario A above)…

Byfield – Kopitar – Kempe
Moore – Danault – Arvidsson
Fiala – Dubois – Grundstrom/Laferriere/JAD
Lewis – Turcotte – Kaliyev

And for those who just like change and/or chaos, how about:

Kaliyev – Kopitar – Moore
Arvidsson – Byfield – Kempe
Fiala – Danault – Dubois
Lewis – Turcotte – Laferriere

When Lizotte comes back, the question then becomes, for how long? As valuable has he’s been to the team in recent years, the Kings simply can’t afford to have a 4C making $1.6M. He and/or Grundstrom ($1.3M) likely need to be moved for cap reasons.


Follow @mayorNHL


Continue reading...