September 32-in-32: LA Kings

Sean Crocker

2022-09-15

Welcome to the September 2022 edition of the DobberProspects 32-in-32 Series. This month, we are diving into the depth of each organization, looking at their recent graduates, risers, fallers and top-20 prospects. 

The Los Angeles Kings took a step forward in 2021-22 with key veterans resurging while young stars had notable breakout seasons. This was enough to bring the Kings back to the postseason for the first time since the 2017-18 campaign. The organization finds itself in a vastly different position than one season ago where the Kings have gone from rebuilders to potential dark horses in the Pacific Division.

The acquisitions last offseason that set the tone for the Kings with the additions of Phillip Danault and Viktor Arvidsson, making up two-thirds of the second unit. The emergence of Trevor Moore completed that line which allowed newcomers like Quinton Byfield and Arthur Kaliyev to thrive in sheltered minutes. 

On the back end losing your number one defenseman is always a death sentence for a bubble playoff team. Sean Durzi had a valiant effort after earning a call-up following Drew Doughty’s wrist injury, which prompted him to get season ending surgery. Durzi played a key role for the team, logging the fifth most ice-time among all Kings who played the full season, including 2:28 per game on the powerplay. Even with the return of Doughty, if Durzi can stick on the second powerplay unit, he stands to become a valuable later round asset in your fantasy drafts. 

Along with the emergence of top prospects, Adrian Kempe put up a career high in points and goals, with 35 tallies and 54 points. The breakout came at the right time for the Swedish forward in a contract year with arbitration rights, and he cashed in, signing a four-year $5.5 million AAV contract to stick with the Kings for the near future. 

All these breakthroughs led to their first playoff appearance since 2017-18 where they faced off against Connor McDavid and the Edmonton Oilers. At times, the team looked as if they were right where they were supposed to be, but game seven seemed to be all too familiar with their scoring woes rearing its head once again, leading to a 2-0 defeat in the deciding game. 

The team wasted no time improving in the offseason by acquiring Kevin Fiala before inking him long term (8x$7.875M) weeks before the madness of the NHL Draft floor. GM Rob Blake gave up the nineteenth overall selection and defensive prospect Brock Faber. In exchange, Fiala will provide a vast improvement to a squad that managed less than three goals-per-game in 2021-22. 

For the first time in years, there is reason to believe the Kings will take a step forward this upcoming campaign. With the return of Doughty, the acquisition of Fiala and the continued emergence of Byfield, Kaliyev and Kupari, the future is as bright as it has been in Los Angeles in almost a half decade. 

GRADUATING

RD Sean Durzi

Durzi filled in for the injured Drew Doughty for most of the season and logged 19 minutes a night and 2:28 on the powerplay. Mostly in sheltered minutes, Durzi is an emerging offensive force for the Kings, and could push for second powerplay time in 2022-23, but could be a candidate for the top unit if Doughty gets injured once again. 

C Quinton Byfield

Byfield started the season on the wrong foot with a long-term injury at the end of the preseason, limiting him to just 40 games in the NHL. Being behind Kopitar and Danault on the depth chart can hamper his production for the near future, but Byfield should offer the Kings a great option on the third line if they choose to reunite him with Rasmus Kupari. 

LW/RW Arthur Kaliyev

Still just 20 years old, Kaliyev played the entire season averaging around 12 minutes of time on ice each night. Despite the limited deployment, Kaliyev still managed to score 14 goals and 27 points. Kaliyev looks to be a key part of the future for Los Angeles and fired 195 shots. If he can get his seven