The Los Angeles Kings are a pleasant surprise and sit near the top of the Pacific Division. However, there are still questions about the defense and lack of production.
The lack of aggressiveness and offensive production added to the lengthy loss of Drew Doughty and the season-ending loss of Sean Walker has the team facing questions. Do the questions top with a trade?
The left side of the Kings defense needs some attention. Most namely, Olli Maatta, who has not worked out so far and had suffered some heart-wrenching turnovers,, almost too many to count.
Maatta came to the Kings via the Chicago Blackhawks and has played 27 games this year, recording 1 goal and 2 assist for 3 points. Maatta also has 17 giveaways in his time played this season and is a UFA when the season ends.
Coming in with high expectations, Gabe Vilardi has not met the offensive needs the team is looking for. Vilardi, who is a RFA in 2022-23, could be moved at the trade deadline and fetch a nice return.
Vilardi, in 3 AHL seasons with the Ontario Reign, has 45 points on 16 goals and 29 assists in 55 games. In his time with the Kings Vilardi has 31 points on 17 goals and 14 assists in 71 games.
Carl Grundstrom is also in this conversation, producing 3 goals and 6 assist for 9 points in 28 games. Grundstrom, who is a UFA after this season, has been given chances to shine but has not met expectations.
Maatta, Vilardi, and Grundstrom have all been given time to shine in their own way but time is running out. With the trade deadline looming, these 3 could be involved in some deals.
Vilardi and Grundstrom both have bright futures but the Kings prospect list at forward is extensive. They both may have to be moved to realize their full potential.
________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ (photo: rinkroyalty.com; Luke Platt) (photo: lakingsinsider.com; Zach Dooley)