Rumors Kings May Non-Tender Carl Grundstrom, Arthur Kaliyev

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Each year, the unrestricted free agent market always has a few late additions, thanks to teams opting not to issue qualifying offers to retain the rights of some of their restricted free agents. We’re starting to get an idea of who some of those names could be, as Eric Stephens of The Athletic wrote earlier this week that the Kings are unlikely to bring pending RFA wingers Carl Grundström and Arthur Kaliyev back next season.

To see the organization cut bait entirely with Kaliyev would be slightly surprising. The 22-year-old was one of the first picks of the second round in the 2019 draft, and he’d been a capable depth scorer for the Kings in back-to-back years heading into this season.

But the Uzbekistan-born American national struggled mightily in his junior campaign, limited to seven goals and 15 points in 51 games. Again, he failed to earn anything above a fourth-line role, averaging fewer than 12 minutes per game for the second year in a row.

Kaliyev was scratched for most of the second half of the campaign and, as Stephens points out, only played in 13 of the final 34 games of the regular season after Jim Hiller took over behind the bench. With Hiller signing a multi-year extension, there’s little hope of the offensively-minded Kaliyev providing much value to the Kings in a limited role with a fractured relationship with the coach. Stephens also seconded mid-season noise that Kaliyev was on the trade block.

They could still trade his signing rights and recoup a draft pick for them, but they’re unlikely to land much if teams gain the sense that he’ll end up on the open market regardless. He’s not eligible for salary arbitration this summer after completing his entry-level contract.

Grundström, meanwhile, is arbitration-eligible, something that could dissuade the Kings from issuing him a qualifying offer, Stephens said. The 26-year-old has been a serviceable checking fourth-liner for the club since arriving via trade from the Maple Leafs in 2019 but missed a solid chunk of this season due to injury. When in the lineup, he contributed eight goals and 12 points in 50 games while averaging 10:56 per game.

The Swedish winger was signed to a two-year deal with a $1.3MM AAV, though, which carries an equivalently expensive $1.3MM qualifying offer on a one-year deal. It wouldn’t be a drastic overpay for his services, but the Kings likely (and rightfully) feel they could save a little bit of cap space by replacing his role on the open market with a player making closer to the $775K league minimum.

L.A. has $19.9MM in projected cap space this summer with 10 open roster spots as they try and push themselves into the upper echelon of the Pacific Division, per CapFriendly. A decent chunk of that will go to pending RFA Quinton Byfield, coming off a breakout 20-goal, 55-point season.

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