Replacing your third-highest scorer is never easy, but Todd McLellan has a few good options.
On Monday, the Los Angeles Kings announced that Viktor Arvidsson was designated to non-roster player status. With Rasmus Kupari and Jordan Spence coming up from Ontario. The team will clarify Arvidsson's situation more on Tuesday, but he is not expected to miss significant time.
The Kings have two more games on their current road trip and will have to slot someone in to replace Arvidsson. But who?
The option that forces the fewest changes is to slot Samuel Fagemo into Arvidsson's spot. Fagemo is a suitable replacement stylistically too. Never afraid to shoot the puck and solid off the rush, he could fill Arvidsson's role well. He's by far the least experienced option though with just six NHL games on his resume and just two this season. He's been effective in his two games though, with two points including his first career goal.
He can also replace Arvidsson on the power play. More of a one-time trigger man, he'd play a different role than Arvidsson's net-front spot, but he's a good option on the man advantage. It's a little surprising he hasn't seen the lineup since scoring his first career goal, but this could be a perfect opportunity to get him back in. Fagemo also spent some time with Trevor Moore and Phil Danault at the beginning of training camp, so there should be some chemistry there.
The most exciting option in the eyes of most fans. Gabe Vilardi could replace Arvidsson in an attempt to re-capture the production from his red-hot start. After 13 points in his first 11 games, including eight goals, Vilardi has cooled down considerably. This was always inevitable, as Vilardi wasn't going to score 50 goals this season or be a point-per-game player. But he has zero points in his last five games and has averaged just one shot per game during that span.
Playing with Moore and Danault should help this. As he'd be able to take a back seat in the play driving department and could go back to being more of a pure shooter. Like Fagemo, Vilardi also has experience on this line. Playing a few games with them during preseason. This move could also potentially get Moore and Danault going. They have posted just one and two points in their last five games, respectively. Adding a player with size who can play along the boards and below the goal line could be huge for that line.
Vilardi doesn't play a high-paced game the way Arvidsson does. Preferring to slow the game down a bit more and use his size and skill to suck defensemen in before making a play. But this could play to Moore and Danault's benefit. Moore and Danault both excel in the cycle game and could play off Vilardi's strengths. Vilardi would also give this line a true finisher. Neither Moore nor Danault is finishing above their expected goals total and Vilardi is well above his. Having someone who can finish the chances created by this line would help.
The third option is to move Adrian Kempe back to the wing and onto this line. Like Vilardi, Kempe had cooled off after a hot start. But he's scored in back-to-back games and would fit on this line. Like the other two players mentioned, Kempe would benefit from being the go-to shooter for this line.
Despite some discontent from the fan base surrounding his game recently. Kempe has actually produced fairly well. With seven points in his last 10 games; only Anze Kopitar, Kevin Fiala and Arvidsson have scored more in the last 10.
He would still escape the opposition's best matchups, which he seemed to struggle with on Kopitar's line, and could get him back to the 30-goal form he was in last season.
He can play off the rush like Arvidsson but brings an extra element of size this line currently lacks. He can also replace Arvidsson's puck-carrying, producing similar rates of entries with possession and chances created.
Moving Kempe to this line would mean finding a new third-line center, although, that shouldn't be difficult. Kupari was recalled and has filled the third-line center role this season, and Vilardi is also a temporary option.
Kings Will Survive Without Arvidsson
Losing Arvidsson isn't ideal, but the Kings will manage without him. Kempe, Vilardi and Fagemo all present solid options to replace him on Danault's wing who can hold the team over for a few games. The King's second line has struggled lately as well, so a change of scenery for them might even be a good thing.