The Los Angeles Kings ended the 2022-23 season in an all too familiar way. A first-round loss to the Edmonton Oilers.
They’ve reinforced their roster this summer with some star power in the form of Pierre-Luc Dubois and re-signed Vladislav Gavrikov.
The Kings boast more high-end skill on their roster and, on paper, should be a dark horse candidate for the Cup.
However, they still need a few players with something to prove to up their game and help put the team over the edge.
Top 3 Kings With the Most to Prove:
1. Trevor Moore:
With just 10 goals and 29 points through 59 games last season — a 14-goal, 40-point pace over 82 games — Trevor Moore didn’t instill much confidence heading into his big extension that kicks in this season.
Yes, his season was marred by concussion problems making it difficult to judge him too harshly. But that’s why he finds himself on this list.
He needs to bounce back and be the play driving force he was in the second half of the 2021-22 season which earned him this contract.
A bounce back season for Moore wouldn’t shock me in the slightest, as his underlying numbers still looked good last season. Particularly his shot creation numbers.
He’s never been a prolific shooter, but you can also expect an increase from his -6.2 goals scored above expected and 6.1% shooting percentage.
His opportunities next season will determine a lot of his production though. The addition of Dubois could mean a decrease in power-play time for Moore. And potentially a drop down the lineup if Dubois and Kevin Fiala anchor the second-line.
I expect Todd McLellan to roll three lines evenly, but wouldn’t be surprised to see Moore and Phil Danault used primarily in a shutdown role.
Regardless, Moore needs to get closer to the 20-goal, 50-point mark next season if he wants to live up to his contract.
2. Quinton Byfield:
If there’s one thing all Kings fans can agree on, it’s that Quinton Byfield has a lot to prove next season.
The conversation surrounding Byfield has gotten stale. As pointed out on AllTheKingsMen several times, everyone says the same thing regarding Byfield just with a different conclusion.
The underlying numbers are great, and either you don’t care because of his lack of production, or you’re confident the production will come.
But, even if you were willing to overlook the lack of points last season, it’s time for Byfield to start putting it all together.
He’s expected to start on the first line with Anze Kopitar and Adrian Kempe next season and needs to take advantage of that opportunity.
It won’t be good enough to just forecheck well and win board battles. He needs to generate offense and put pucks in the net.
His 4.1 shooting percentage and -7.6 goals above expected will be almost impossible to repeat, so an increase in goals is expected.
The Kings need to see a stronger, more confident Byfield next season. A fully healthy 82 games certainly wouldn’t hurt either.
Could this be Arthur Kaliyev’s last chance to cement himself within the Kings organization?
I think it might be. He’s expected to replace Gabe Vilardi in the top-nine this season — a spot he lost to Vilardi last season — and he has to produce.
Its been an interesting career for Kaliyev so far. He’s felt like a square peg in a round hole on the fourth line at times but has shown flashes of his high-end goal scoring.
Big defenders of Kaliyev point to his goals and points per 60 as a reason he’ll succeed in a more prominent role. But it’s important to note that those numbers plummet a bit when looking at 5v5 production.
Kaliyev feasted on the power play last year, scoring more than half of his goals on the man advantage, and struggled to produce at even strength.
Like Moore, it’s hard to judge Kaliyev too harshly because he faced injury problems, but he needs to bounce back.
If Kaliyev can take the next step and replace at least the 23 goals Vilardi scored last season, the Kings are in a good place.
If he can’t, McLellan might look for a more “trusting” replacement in the top nine.