The Los Angeles Kings are rebuilding their roster as the franchise prepares to try and get back to the NHL’s elite sooner than later. General manager Rob Blake has added some key young prospects to the pipeline and will have the opportunity to add another high-end talent with the No. 2 pick in the 2020 NHL Draft.
Veteran players Anze Kopitar, Jeff Carter, Dustin Brown and Jonathan Quick are getting up there in age, so it could be a long transition, unless Blake looks to add a bonafide NHL talent using one of the young assets the team has.
“For a player that went No. 2 in the draft and met his early expectations, it would take the No. 2 pick in this year’s draft, for sure, and maybe more. There are pros and cons. On one hand, you have the finished product rather than having to wait for the youngster to develop, which, in Quinton Byfield’s case could take a while. Laine has clearly shown he can score at an NHL level. It answers a question and provides more information, which you don’t have when you are looking at this year’s draft and the No. 2 pick. Sometimes a kid becomes Laine at No. 2 and sometimes he becomes Sam Bennett. But the Kings would then need to allocate resources to sign Laine (next summer) because he is going to require a massive financial commitment going forward. Honestly, if you have the chance to trade for Laine, it would be something the Kings strongly have to consider.”
TSN’s Frank Seravalli thinks Winnipeg may trade Laine or Nikolai Ehlers if the Jets can get a center or top-pairing defenseman in return. L.A. isn’t in a position to trade away a top center, and with defenseman Drew Doughty having a no-trade clause, it’s tough to see him waiving to go to Winnipeg (no disrespect to the ‘Peg).
Blake could offer this year’s No. 2 pick, and the Kings’ 2021 first-rounder plus a current prospect —like center Tyler Madden — to get Laine.
The 22-year-old had 63 points for the Jets last season, but his goal output has decreased from a career-high 44 in 2017-18, to 35 in 2018-19, to 28 in 2019-20 (in 68 games). Laine would command $8 million to $10 million a season as an RFA.
L.A. would have the room to pay a high-end talent like Laine next offseason, with Ilya Kovalchuk’s buyout coming off the books, and Dion Phaneuf’s hit coming down by $3 million, the Kings are projected to have just over $34 million in space next year, per Cap Friendly.
Do you want Blake to make a run at Laine?