HomeNHLKings’ Missed Golden Opportunities to Acquire Left-Handed Defencemen
Kings’ Missed Golden Opportunities to Acquire Left-Handed Defencemen
April 20, 2021
The Los Angeles Kings’ are reportedly trying to purchase a dynamic left-handed defenceman. Just lately, Darren Dreger stated:
”Rob Blake of the Los Angeles Kings is one other one in search of a defenceman within the class that Pierre simply described, 25 and beneath. However he particularly needs a dynamic, left-shot defenceman… I’m reminded of the large commerce that concerned the Columbus Blue Jackets a number of years again, and the Nashville Predators. Ryan Johansen for Seth Jones if one thing like that might be labored out by Rob Blake, then he’d try this in a heartbeat”.
The Kings’ present left-shot blueliners are Mikey Anderson, Olli Maatta and Kurtis MacDermid. General, not a spectacular crew. Maatta was delivered to LA with the intention of being Drew Doughty’s associate in crime, however that experiment didn’t final lengthy. These days, Doughty performs with Anderson, a talented rookie who has a great deal of potential however can not presently be labeled as a ‘dynamic defenceman’ who impacts the sport on each ends of the ice (he has eight factors this season and takes very low-quality photographs).
MacDermid is understood for bringing a ‘powerful as nails’ type to the sport and isn’t afraid to drop the gloves, however his offensive contributions are minimal.
Associated: Kings Have Blockbuster Commerce Choices to Fill Defensive Corps
In the meantime, L.A. possesses Doughty, a dynamic right-handed defenceman, who’s a former Norris Trophy winner and needs to be within the Norris race once more this season. L.A. has had a number of wage cap house to play with for some time now and presently has simply over $9 million in cap room.
The Kings possess ample house so as to add a blueliner, however within the final 12 months, they’ve squandered two golden alternatives to take action, the place they wouldn’t have needed to lose any belongings to make the acquisition. Though each of those defenders are older than 25, each are dynamic and left-handed.
Torey Krug (2020 Free Company)
The earliest of those alternatives got here in 2020, as soon as Torey Krug turned an unrestricted free agent (UFA) when Boston didn’t re-sign him. Though Doughty is having a greater season offensively than Krug, signing him would’ve made him immediately venture because the Kings’ prime offensive defenceman.
From 2016-17 to 2019-20, Krug completed among the many NHL’s prime 10 blueliners in factors 3 times and completed simply outdoors (twelfth) as soon as. In that timeframe, he out-produced Doughty in three seasons and trailed him by one level in 2017-18. The gamers offensive totals throughout these 4 seasons have been:
Krug: 282 Video games Performed (GP), 212 Factors, 0.75 Factors Per Recreation (P/G)
Doughty: 313 GP, 184 Factors, 0.59 P/G
General, Krug may have instantly got here to LA and fashioned an efficient offensive duo with Doughty. The Kings would have had the selection to have a dynamic defenceman on each power-play models, or they might have performed on a unit collectively. Though most groups solely play one defenceman on a unit, Krug can play with two, resembling on this clip the place he and Justin Faulk assist the St. Louis Blues keep possession of the puck for an astounding 3:30 throughout a delayed penalty in opposition to LA. This additionally highlights Krug’s potential to drive offensive play, as he takes a 2:53 shift.
Krug is without doubt one of the league’s finest transitional defencemen. Had he signed in L.A. and gotten to skate with the Norris Trophy winner, Doughty may’ve successfully shut down opponents after which let Krug do what he’s identified for, which is clearing the puck and offering offence.
I advocated for the Kings to signal Krug in Free Company, nonetheless, he went to their new divisional rival St. Louis. He has up to now been efficient with the Blues, posting 23 factors in 43 video games. Underneath Craig Berube, the group performs a defensive type of hockey. Though Krug is understood for his offensive expertise, he has confirmed he can play stable defence, as he has blocked 1.12 photographs per recreation and has thrown 1.05 hits per recreation. Equally, the Kings performs a defensive type and is understood for the group’s grit, that means at a minimal, his hit totals would’ve been related had he come to “The Metropolis of Angels.”
These days, Krug helps the Blues make a playoff push on the Kings’ expense. St. Louis presently sits one level out of the playoffs, whereas L.A. is seven out.
In the meantime, the Kings’ low season acquisition of Maatta has not labored out. As a substitute of spending $3.33 million on Maatta, the Kings may have signed Krug, leaving them with a number of cap room and filling the necessity for a dynamic left-handed blueliner who would’ve helped them obtain their preseason imaginative and prescient of qualifying for the playoffs.
Shayne Gostisbehere (Positioned on Waivers, 2021)
Shayne Gostisbehere is one other participant I’ve thought LA ought to’ve focused as a commerce candidate. In response to this, some Kings followers stated they’d solely need him if L.A. didn’t want to surrender something for him. This might have been made a actuality when he was positioned on waivers on the finish of March, however he managed to clear the waiver wire.
Gostisbehere is understood for his potential to drive offence. In his rookie season, he produced 46 factors in 64 video games and completed seventeenth in Norris Trophy voting. His finest season got here when he was 24-years-old, and he produced 65 factors, ending tenth in Norris voting. The final season the place he practically performed its entirety was 2018-19 (78 video games performed) when he had 37 factors. Though this was thought-about a down 12 months for him, it nonetheless is extra factors in a single season than any of the Kings’ present left-handers have generated. Moreover, he’s identified for his glorious puck-moving potential.
These charts spotlight how properly he can transfer the puck. Particularly, the half to the appropriate does. The chart on the appropriate tracked his zone exits and zone entries from 2016-2019. Though zone entries are thought-about a transitional statistic, they might be thought-about a defensive quantity, as clearing the zone prevents scoring probabilities in opposition to, which is the aim of defending. In that timeframe, Gostisbehere’s possession entry proportion was 94%, whereas his possession exit proportion was 97%. This implies he entered the offensive zone extra successfully than 94% of gamers and exited the defensive zone extra efficiently than 97% of NHL skaters. His possession exits per 60 of 95% and his possession entries per 60 of 96% imply that for each 60 minutes he skated, he carried out extra defensive zone exits than 95% of gamers and entered the offensive zone greater than 96% of skaters.
This season, Gostisbehere has been a wholesome scratch and puzzlingly was positioned on waivers (from ‘Flyers minus Gostisbehere for third consecutive recreation,’The Philadelphia Inquirer, 20/03/21). Regardless of this, he has scored eight targets and posted 15 factors in 35 video games performed. He leads all Flyers’ blueliners in targets and is second in factors behind Ivan Provorov, who has 22 factors in 45 video games performed. “Ghost” solely has a plus/minus of minus-4 this season, which is spectacular contemplating the Flyers minus-34 aim differential. He ranks fourth among the many group’s defenders on this regard, which matches in opposition to the movement that he’s an excessive amount of of a legal responsibility defensively to constantly be enjoying.
Gostisbehere just isn’t an overtly bodily defenceman. All through his 375-game profession, he has thrown 196 hits (0.52 per recreation), nonetheless, he does block tons of photographs, as he has 446 profession blocks, which is equal to 1.2 blocks per recreation. He additionally doesn’t flip over the puck as usually as different offensive-minded defensemen. In his profession, he has 277 profession giveaways (0.74 per recreation) and 107 takeaways (0.29 per recreation). For perspective, right here’s how different defenders have carried out on this regard all through their careers:
Brent Burns: 0.53 takeaways per recreation; 0.93 giveaways per recreation
Doughty: 0.24 takeaways per recreation; 1.00 giveaways per recreation
John Carlson: 0.58 takeaways per recreation; 0.99 giveaways per recreation
General, Gostisbehere’s 0.73 giveaways per recreation aren’t too unhealthy in comparison with these blueliners. Though Carlson and Burns are higher at stealing the puck, he has a greater takeaway per recreation ratio than Doughty. Because of this relative to different defencemen who present offensive output, “Ghost” is much less dangerous with the puck than them and is best at stealing the puck than Doughty, who has the popularity among the many aforementioned blueliners for being the perfect and most accountable defensively.
Lastly, Gostisbehere is a 27-year-old who excels offensively and transitionally. Excluding hitting, his defensive numbers are akin to different defencemen who present top-notch offensive worth. His salary-cap hit of $4.5 million lasts by the 2022-23 season. That is inexpensive for LA at this time as they’ve tons of cap house and will have signed him off waivers. If that they had focused him as an alternative of Maatta final offseason, they might have been capable of put the $3.33 million they pay him in direction of paying Gostisbehere.
Hindsight is 20/20; nonetheless, regardless of Gostisbehere and Krug not being beneath 25 years previous, they match the entire different standards for what the Kings are in search of in a left-handed blueliner to enhance Doughty. Each are nice offensively and transitionally whereas chipping in some defence. The Kings will seemingly should make a commerce to amass a dynamic 25-year-old or beneath defenceman, which might require them to surrender a bit of their prospect pipeline.
As a substitute of this, L.A. had two alternatives to snap up two blueliners who match this standards with out having to lose something besides cap house however selected to not.
I’m a lifelong hockey fan who shall be protecting the LA Kings right here at The Hockey Writers. Earlier than becoming a member of The Hockey Writers I spent two years running a blog about hockey. I’m presently enrolled in highschool and I’m trying to enhance my sports activities writing.
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