The Los Angeles Kings are transitioning to a younger team and have seen some huge changes in their lineup over the last few years, especially on defense. I’ve discussed this topic a bit before but I wanted to take a deeper look into which prospects could get a chance in the Kings’ lineup next season.
For starters, this is likely what the Kings’ defense group looks like at the moment:
Maatta - Doughty
??? - Roy
??? - Walker
The right side is pretty much set, with Drew Doughty, Matt Roy and Sean Walker talking up all three spots. We can also assume Olli Maatta will be playing on the top pairing with Doughty and Kurtis MacDermid would ideally be a spare, who could get into a decent number of games if needed. So that would mean there are likely two spots open on the left side and I’d imagine the competition for those would come down to Mikey Anderson, Tobias Bjornfot and Kale Clague.
Of the three defensemen, I’d bet Anderson is most likely to get a full-time role. He was called up for the last stretch of the season, where he took on a fairly large role with the Kings and may have stuck with the team for the remainder of the year. He’s strong defensively and he’s a potential option to take a spot on the second pairing.
Then it’ll come down to Bjornfot or Clague. While Bjornfot seems to have the higher ceiling, I’d expect the Kings to go with Clague on the third pairing. Clague is already 22 years old and the Kings need to see how he’ll adjust to the NHL so they can figure out their expansion draft plans and whether they’d be willing to use a protection spot on him.
On top of that, Bjornfot is still just 19 years old and there’s no reason to rush his development. He’s also eligible for his entry-level contract to slide for another year and there’s really no reason to waste a year of it while the Kings won’t be overly competitive anyways.
Regardless, I'd expect Anderson, Bjornfot and Clague all to be in consideration for spots in the defense group. Each defenseman could be a key part of the team's future and it'll be exciting to see them continue to develop.
***NOTE: We've launched a HockeyBuzz Kings Twitter account! For anyone interested, you can follow @HB_LAKings for updates on articles, Kings news, etc.***
Here’s today’s poll question (results and discussion will be posted in a future article):
Do you think Mikey Anderson will get a full-time role with the Kings this season?