Better luck next year: Pierre-Luc Dubois fits the Kings style, but is he what they need?
Are they going to squander this rebuild?
Welcome back to Better Luck Next Season where we will take a look at what went wrong, what went right, and what sits ahead for all of the teams that missed the Stanley Cup Playoffs or were eliminated from the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Today we look at the Los Angeles Kings, who started the offseason with a major move that makes some sense, but was it the move they needed?
I have been a big believer in the Los Angeles Kings because it really seemed like they were really building something significant.
They assembled what looked to be a loaded farm system, and then made a serious effort to rapidly get better with a couple of shrewd veteran additions in Viktor Arvidsson, Phillip Danault and Kevin Fiala to complement the young talent.
The eventual result was a 2022-23 team that started to look like a Stanley Cup contender.
Their 5-on-5 numbers were consistently among the top-10 in the NHL when it came to things like scoring chances, expected goals and their ability to control possession. They defended extremely well, Anze Kopitar and Drew Doughty were still important members of the core, and a lot of their recent additions fit in perfectly and were highly productive.
They finished with 104 points, which was the second-best regular season performance in franchise history and even better than both of their Stanley Cup winning teams in 2012 and 2014.
There were two things that made that performance so eye-opening.
The first is they did it while not really getting significant breakthrough seasons from a lot of their most important young players.
The second is they did it while getting some of the worst goaltending in the league over the course of the entire 82-game season. The trade deadline addition of Joonas Korpisalo helped down the stretch, but it still was not good enough for a contender.
Especially in a First Round matchup against Connor McDavid and the Edmonton Oilers, which they lost in six games while allowing 25 goals.
So far this offseason the Kings have responded by trading two of the young players that did take a step forward (defenseman Sean Durzi and forward Gabriel Vilardi) and another veteran (Alex Iafallo) so they could acquire Pierre-Luc Dubois from the Winnipeg Jets, and then sign him to an eight-year contract worth over $8 million per season.
They also spent more than $5 million over the next two years to re-sign trade deadline acquisition Vladislav Gavrikov, further complicating the salary cap situation.
I have some thoughts on all of this.
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