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Kings Might Struggle to Find Power-Play Role For Dubois



Pierre-Luc Dubois Skating up ice

A big part of the Los Angeles Kings’ success last season was an elite power play that finished 4th in the league.

New assistant coach Jim Hiller quickly turned the King’s man advantage around and made it a real strength for the team.

The addition of Pierre-Luc Dubois was a big one this summer; at first glance, he should be a great addition to the power play. But when digging deeper, the Kings might struggle to fit him onto the top unit.

Dubois played mostly as the net front player for the Winnipeg Jets last season, the role Gabriel Vilardi often played for the Kings last season. So, it’s an easy one-to-one switch in that spot, right? Not necessarily.

Why Dubois Might Struggle as The Net-Front Player:

Dubois has all the talents to be an effective net-front player. He has the size and strength to battle in front, with the skill to effectively pop down low and create chances. However, his handedness is a big problem for this role.

The Kings run their power play primarily on the left side with Kevin Fiala — Anze Kopitar when Fiala is hurt — which necessitates a right shot down low.

When a right shot player pops out on the left side, there’s an easy passing angle for the half-wall player and more options for the player down low. Quick passing is key for a successful power and a left-shot can’t move the puck quick enough down low.

They would have to either move too far into the corner or take the extra second to step out from and open up their body to create an effective passing angle. Time that would slow the power play down too much and allow the opposition penalty kill to get back into position.

There’s also minimal shot threat from a lefty down low. We saw both Vilardi and Viktor Arvidsson frequently take the pass down low and quickly turn it into a shooting opportunity, something a left shot wouldn’t be able to do.

With the Kings’ current setup, Dubois can’t effectively play the net-front spot.

Flip the Power Play:

One option to fix this issue would be to simply flip the power play. Run it off the right half-wall making a left-shot down low the best option, something Hiller’s done during his time with the Toronto Maple Leafs.

The problem with that is, the Kings don’t really have the personnel to make that work. You’d remove the one-time threat of Adrian Kempe on the right half-wall and would limit the quick-shot option for your bumper player.

Having Fiala on the right half-wall, Doughty at the point and Dubois down low would be a strong trio on the right side, but it limits the Kings’ main shooting threat too much.

It could possibly work with Viktor Arvidsson on the left side, maybe even Samuel Fagemo if they wanted to get really creative, but I doubt there’s any interest in limiting Kempe’s impact.

Flipping the power play is an option, but not one I see the Kings looking too.

Play Dubois as The Bumper:

The best role for Dubois on the Kings’ power play is the bumper position. He has a quick, hard shot that will thrive in that spot. Whether it’s receiving a cross-ice pass from the right side he has to catch and release. Or firing a one-timer from either down low or Fiala on the half-wall, Dubois can score from there.

The problem then becomes, what to do with Anze Kopitar? As another lefty, he can’t play the net front and won’t take Fiala or Kempe’s spot on either half-wall. Kopitar would have to be relegated to the second unit if they move Dubois into the bumper spot.

Kopitar’s been a staple on the Kings’ power play for nearly 20 years and still posted a solid 19 power-play points last season. He’s also the team captain and likely wouldn’t love the thought of being moved off the top unit.

On the flip side, making this move could be a perfect way to kill two birds with one stone. Todd McLellan’s already mentioned needing to cut Kopitar’s ice a little bit moving forward and less power play time is a great way to achieve that.

At 36-years-old Kopitar shouldn’t be averaging 20 minutes a night and moving onto the second unit could solve that problem.

Kopitar could also take over the left half-wall duties on the second unit, strengthening the Kings’ power play depth.

The lack of a right shot to play down low on the second unit will create its own problem. But that’s a topic for another day.

Arvidsson Down Low, Dubois in the Bumper:

If the Kings want Dubois to play a role on the top power-play unit, they’ll have to keep Arvidsson down low and move Dubois into the bumper.

This is the only option that works for each role without drastically changing a power play that was firing on all cylinders last season.

It will be weird to see the Kings top unit jump over the boards without Kopitar, but it’s a necessary change.

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