Los Angeles Kings’ defenseman Drew Doughty is a superstar and does things on the ice that not a lot of defenseman in the National Hockey League can. But, he might need some help soon with a young defensive core behind him. In an effort to improve the blue line, the team could consider moving another superstar in Anze Kopitar.
The Kings are lacking defensive prospects in the system, which could motivate them to make a move for help on the blue line before the season ends. The team is also down two defensemen following Thursday night’s 5-3 loss to the Minnesota Wild, making matters slightly more urgent.
Sean Walker took a puck to the face off a Matt Dumba shot, while Matt Roy was victim of a dangerous hit-from-behind from Wild forward Kevin Fiala. Both are both listed as day-to-day.
Kings Deep Prospect Pool
The Kings have a remarkably deep prospect pool overall, ranking top five in the league this past October, according to The Athletic. They are heavy on promising forwards like Quinton Byfield, Alex Turcotte and Gabriel Vilardi but there’s not much in the pipeline beyond the team’s top defensive prospect, Tobias Bjornfot — who is projected to be on a first line pairing at some point.
The Kings have surprised some around the league with how well they are playing but it could be time to bring in some prospects to solidify the back end, especially if they are in a race for a postseason berth later in the year. Young players like Mikey Anderson, and Kale Clague (who the Kings selected 51st overall in 2016) are stepping up in a big way this season.
“We have a young D-corps, we need those guys to step up,” Doughty said in his post-game comments to the media following the loss to the Wild. “They’re in the NHL for a reason, they’re very good players. I love playing with Mikey. [Kale Clague] with [Matt Roy], they look good together. We’re happy that they’re blossoming into NHLers and we’re gonna need them for the future.”
But, could they use more help?
Kopitar, Others Being Considered?
On Friday afternoon’s version of Under Review on the SiriusXM NHL Radio Network, analyst Jonathan Davis suggested the Kings could move Anze Kopitar. But they’ll need to find a team that will take him on – not that most team’s wouldn’t want the big Slovenian.
He might still be the easiest of the big names on the roster to move, but the drawbacks for a deal involving Kopitar are his contract and his age. The 33-year old comes with a $10 million price tag through to 2023-24.
According to Cap Friendly, the start of the 2020-21 season means Kopitar’s contract moves past the no-movement clause stage. This year he will be able to submit a list of seven teams to be traded to, with his modified no-trade clause taking effect.
Kopitar could attract some serious interest on the trade market as a veteran player who appears to be still at the top of his game. Packaging him in a trade could bring the Kings some help on the back end.
Will the Kings Trade Doughty?
Another player they might consider moving is Doughty. If they do it’s not likely to happen this year, unless things go terribly wrong for the Kings. Doughty has a no-movement clause through to 2023.
On the face, moving Doughty to improve the blue line seems like an oxymoron. But a trade that involves Doughty could net the Kings a couple solid defensive prospects, maybe more.
At 30-years old, Doughty carries an $11 million cap hit until 2027 when he will be 38-years old. Like Kopitar, his contract and his age will be issues for teams looking to add him. That’s despite both of these players still performing well. In eight games so far this season, Doughty has three goals and nine points. While Kopitar leads the team with 12 points and is fourth in the league heading into Jan. 29 action.
Any deal the Kings are able to swing for either Kopitar or Doughty will see the team retain salary. That said, the Kings should easily be able to handle such a move with their ample cap space.
Not to say that it’s likely the Kings do anything, but it is more probable that Kopitar moves and Doughty stays.
Will the Kings Trade Jeff Carter?
Jeff Carter is another interesting name to mention. The Kings might move him if improving their defense is a priority. He had sub-40 point seasons the last two years, prompting calls from Kings writers to trade him before his value completely implodes. That being said, it’s not likely he will bring a significant return. Carter could make a nice add-on in a deal because he still brings a veteran presence and good leadership.
Will the Kings Trade Jonathan Quick?
Cal Petersen could take the number one spot from Jonathan Quick in L.A. next year, or the year after. For our purpose, let’s imagine that happens right now. As a backup goalie, Quick would still be making $5.8 million until he is an Unrestricted Free Agent in 2023.
Quick is still a very good goaltender in the league despite back-to-back down seasons where he posted below average numbers. Quick could still stabilize a team that is struggling for a lack of good goaltending. Apart from anything crazy happening, it’s more likely that General Manager Rob Blake keeps him around for another year or two to mentor Petersen.
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