Kings Trade Chips: The Forwards
There are a lot of options, so today we’re going to focus on some forward options.
It's no secret, the Los Angeles Kings have to move some pieces this summer. They're up against the cap and have some key pieces to re-sign.
This was inevitable for the Kings. They have too many prospects knocking on the door and a full roster. Now the difficult decisions begin for Rob Blake and his team. Who do they move and who do they commit to?
There are a lot of options, so today we're going to focus on some forward options.
One of the most common names to show up in these conversations, Alex Iafallo's going to be involved in a lot of these articles this summer.
He isn't a flashy player; his raw production won't wow anyone and he makes a decent amount of money at $4 million AAV. All of this combined makes him an easy target to look at and say, "Move him out and let one of the young players take his spot."
But I doubt Todd McLellan and his team are eager to see Iafallo moved on. Since signing with the Kings in 2017, Iafallo's been one of the most relied-upon forwards and is coming off a strong season.
He scored at a 50-point pace and was stellar defensively once again. As McLellan puts it, Iafallo is this team's deodorant, cleaning up the stink left behind by other players.
While someone like Arthur Kaliyev or even Samuel Fagemo are unquestionably more talented players than Iafallo. It's hard to say they'd be more effective players next season.
If the team really wants to compete beyond the first round next season, it's hard to justify replacing Iafallo with some of the young players who haven't proved it at the NHL level. And yes, there's a strong argument that these players haven't gotten a chance to prove it. But when your goal is to win now, that's a difficult risk to take.
His $4 million cap hit is often cited as a good reason to move him. For what it's worth, The Athletic's final player cards for this season estimated Iafallo's market value at $7.6 million. Obviously, Iafallo is not an almost $8 million player. But he does bring a lot more value to this team than he's given credit for.
Iafallo isn't the most exciting player, but it would be more difficult to replace him than many fans expect.
The main reason moving Iafallo makes sense is simple. There are more skilled players with higher ceilings in the organization.
Someone like Kaliyev, at his peak, brings a lot more to the table offensively than Iafallo ever will. Iafallo is an effective but limited player. And, as McLellan said in his exit interview, they need Kaliyev to become an impactful NHL player.
For that to happen, the Kings eventually have to commit to Kaliyev and give him a more significant role. For that to happen, someone needs to be moved.
Soon to be 30 years old, moving Iafallo and replacing him with the soon-to-be 22-year-old Kaliyev makes sense. Knowing that you're risking short-term losses for long-term gains.
Given the Kings' goals and expectations for next season, I find it very hard to believe Viktor Arvidsson is traded this summer. But, he's another name that gets tossed into this conversation a lot so I'll address it.
He just finished third on the team with 59 points — he would have hit 60 if he played the full 82 — and was one of the team's most dynamic players in the playoffs. I just don't see a team who's gunning for a deep playoff run trading one of their best forwards.
Something that maybe went underrated was his contributions to the team's power play. Despite being seventh in power-play ice time, he was second on the team in power-play points. His ability to play the net front position in Jim Hiller's system was key to the Kings' success and replacing him would be difficult.
Second on the team in wins-above-replacement behind only Anze Kopitar, Arvidsson is a massive part of this team's success.
There are two reasons I can squint and just about see the Kings moving him and that's his trade value. He's proven over the last two seasons in Los Angeles that he's an impactful NHL player again and teams would pay a hefty price for him, even at 30 years old with one year left on his contract.
And the team might be confident that Gabe Vilardi can step into Arvidsson's spot in the top six and provide similar value. But, you'd be betting on someone like Kaliyev replacing the Vilardi-sized hole left in the bottom six.
If I convince myself that someone would overpay massively for Arvidsson and that both Vilardi and Kaliyev would step up and replace what you'd lose by moving Arvidsson. I can just about see a trade happening. But those are some big "ifs" and I don't imagine the front office believes all of those things to be true.
I wouldn't expect an Arvidsson move this summer. Now, do they extend him? That I don't know.
The young players:
The next few players all fall into the same group. Good young players who might not have a meaningful spot on the roster and have more value as trade chips. So, I'm going to combine them into one section.
To be clear, I don't think the Kings will or should trade Kaliyev. But it is an option.
The Kings have to decide what his future with this team is now. He can't spend another season on the fourth line as a square peg in a round hole. They need to get him into the top nine or move him while he still has value.
If he can't force his way into the top nine during camp, packaging him with Cal Petersen to move that contract isn't a terrible option. With a bloated prospect pool and a team that wants to win now, there were always going to be casualties and Kaliyev might be one.
I think the Kings are definitely going to give Kaliyev the opportunity to earn a significant role in camp before entertaining the idea of moving him. But if he doesn't impress, I see a world where he's moved.
Alex Turcotte is often referenced by fans as a prospect to move for other pieces, but I don't see that happening.
His value is so low at this point that it doesn't make sense to move him. The Kings are better off seeing it through with Turcotte and hoping he gets healthy at some point.
Trading him now would fetch a late-round pick and maybe a depth piece. Why even make the move at that point?
I'd be interested to see Jaret Anderson-Dolan's value around the league. He's proven he can compete in the NHL, but his ceiling is pretty limited.
He's a good option as a 12/13th forward for this team. Someone who can reliably fill in if there are injuries or suspensions. But I don't see him grabbing a full-time spot with the Kings anytime soon.
You could package him with someone else in a big trade or move him for a more physical player to fill his role.
He's a good player but he's been lost in the sea of Kings prospects.
It was another good season in the AHL for Samuel Fagemo, he scored 23 goals in 56 games but added just nine assists. He also scored his first, and second, NHL goals last season.
Like Anderson-Dolan, he might get lost in the sea of prospects though. It's hard to see an NHL spot for him next season and spending another season in the AHL, which would take him to 24 years old, would be tough.
Forwards like Martin Chromiak, Alex Laferriere and Francesco Pinelli have all made good progress in the last year. Making it hard to see a future in this organization for Fagemo.
He has a world-class shot and the potential to score plenty of goals in the NHL, but it's very possible that's for another organization.
Like Kaliyev, I wouldn't be surprised if Fagemo was given the chance to impress in camp before being shopped. But it seems like now or never for Fagemo.