With the off-season comes questions about next season. For the Los Angeles Kings, those questions do not have answers right now. General manager Rob Blake has likely already made a to-do list for the off-season. Who to re-sign and who to trade with one year left on their deal?
Some key players on the 2022-23 roster will be going into the final year of their contract during this upcoming season, with the hopes of getting everyone re-signed or traded.
Players include forwards Viktor Arvidsson, Blake Lizotte, Carl Grundstrom, Quinton Byfield, and Arthur Kaliyev. Defensemen include Matt Roy, Sean Walker, and Sean Durzi. Goaltender Pheonix Copley is also a free agent. All are RFA’s except Arvidsson, who is a UFA.
With the trading aspect, the players who may get the most in return are Arvidsson, Byfield, Kaliyev, and Walker. Picks and possibly players or prospects in return are what Blake is most likely looking for. Although the Kings still have a deep prospect pool, one organization can never have enough prospects.
The pressing need is still depth scoring, a left-handed defenseman, and goaltending depth. Defensemen Alex Edler and Vladislav Gavrikov and goaltender Joonas Korpisalo are currently free agents. However, the asking price for a new Korpisalo and Gavrikov contract may be too high. A return for these two would be nice, as they played excellent hockey after they were acquired from the Columbus Blue Jackets in exchange for goaltender Jonathan Quick.
There is a possibility they all re-sign. Again, general manager Blake will have decisions to make as he would then have too many players under contract. We also have to put into the equation that defenseman Brandt Clarke may be ready for a full-time spot on the roster and what that could potentially mean for the roster as well. The 2023-24 edition of the Los Angeles Kings could look quite different.
Different could be a good thing, though. The Kings had a good 2022-23 season, but in the postseason, they fell short against the Edmonton Oilers. New blood and a new roster could mean different, yet better, results.
Needless to say, the Kings will have some transactions this summer to reduce the stockpile of players or to strengthen the roster. Blake is known for making moves, so it will be interesting to see the direction he takes for next season. This a reminder that the 2023 NHL Entry Draft is also around the corner, so that moves could be made then as well.