Rumors Trade Deadline Primer: Los Angeles Kings

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With the All-Star break in the rearview, the trade deadline looms large and is now just a month away. Where does each team stand, and what moves should they be looking to make? We continue our look around the league with the Los Angeles Kings.

The Los Angeles Kings are maintaining their form this season, once again looking like a team that could find their way into the postseason but not one that poses much of a threat. They currently sit atop a tightly-packed Western Conference Wild Card race, with five teams sitting within five points of the Kings. They’ve played the second-fewest games in the conference – 50 – but also boast the eighth-fewest goals in the Conference. The Kings will be hoping that the Trade Deadline can work hand-in-hand with new head coach Jim Hiller – who took over for Todd McLellan in early February – to bring a needed spark to the lineup in the second half of the season.

Record


24-16-10, 4th in the Central Division.

Deadline Status


Conservative Buyers

Deadline Cap Space


$2.0 MM on deadline day, 1/3 retention slots used, 43/50 contracts used, per CapFriendly.

Upcoming Draft Picks


2024: LAK 1st, LAK 4th, LAK 6th, LAK 7th
2025: LAK 1st, LAK 2nd, LAK 3rd, LAK 4th, LAK 5th, LAK 6th, LAK 7th

Trade Chips


Los Angeles is approaching the deadline with very little cap to work with and very few picks in the 2024 NHL Draft. Those factors make any trade a challenge for the Kings. But they might be able to leverage the value of former draft capital, with Alex Turcotte and Arthur Kaliyev looking like two of their best bargaining chips. Neither player has found their groove in the NHL since being drafted by the Kings. Kaliyev has spent the last two seasons in and out of the Kings lineup, playing just 38 games and scoring just 14 points this season. Still, he’s been with the NHL lineup for three seasons, scoring 70 points in 175 games over the last four seasons. That’s more of a role than Turcotte has received – with the former fifth-overall pick spending most of the last four seasons in the AHL. He’s played in four NHL games this season and finally recorded his first goal and assist in the league. He also has 23 points in 30 AHL games this season.



While neither 22-year-old has a strong pro resume as it stands, there’s a chance teams could remain hopeful that a change of scenery could bring back their draft day hope. But even if they do, Los Angeles will likely still need to move cap to make any deal work. They may manage that by trading depth forwards like Carl Grundstrom or Blake Lizotte. Grundstrom has continued to operate on the team’s bottom line, playing 50 games and scoring 12 points this season, while Lizotte has played 34 games as a bottom-six centerman. They each carry cap hits below $2.0MM and could bring value to a team looking towards a long playoff run – Lizotte adding center depth and Grundstrom bringing good grit. But it may be hopeful to think that either player will be enough to swing a deal without L.A. also including draft capital.

Team Needs


1) Complimentary Depth – The headline of the Kings season has been the struggles of new acquisition Pierre-Luc Dubois. The team traded for the 25-year-old this off-season, sending Gabriel Vilardi, Alex Iafallo, Rasmus Kupari, and a 2024 second-round draft pick back to the Winnipeg Jets. Dubois has since recorded just 21 points in 50 games with the Kings, falling to the team’s third-line center role. He’ll likely receive a productive winger with Viktor Arvidsson returning to the lineup, but the team shouldn’t pass up a chance to get him additional help at the Trade Deadline. Dubois has scored 60 or more points in three of his seven NHL seasons, including each of the last two, and could benefit from skilled wingers that can support his drive into the offensive zone. Los Angeles could seek out options like Anthony Duclair or Morgan Frost, who wouldn’t come at much of a price, or they could shoot for a more veteran presence through the likes of Vladimir Tarasenko or Jason Zucker, who would each require additional cap space. But without many trade pieces to work with, it’s unlikely that L.A. could compete for top-of-the-market options like Jake Guentzel.



2) Future Capital – Los Angeles could certainly be a team in the market for a goaltender, or extended defensive depth, but they’ll likely fall flat of offers other teams can make. Instead, their Deadline plan should be to hear out as many offers on young defensemen or top minor-league forwards, looking to bank whatever future capital they could get. The Kings are likely still years away from the top of the standings, something made okay by the fact that they have the fifth-youngest lineup in the league. Dealing away veteran lineup pieces like Andreas Englund could have the benefit of opening space for young prospects like Brandt Clarke, netting the Kings modest compensation while also giving some of their recent top draft picks a chance to shine. That may be all Los Angeles can ask for, as they approach a deadline where they’ll be cap-strapped and looking for a spark.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

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