Is the Los Angeles Kings’ rebuild over? The idea doesn’t should be black and white, however re-signing pending UFA left winger Alex Iafallo somewhat than dealing him away on trade-deadline day sends a robust message. It seems GM Rob Blake is, on the very least, transitioning the franchise to section 2 of its rebuild.
Iafallo, 27, signed a four-year extension Monday carrying a $4-million AAV.
He’s step by step risen up the Kings’ depth chart since being signed in 2017 as an undrafted faculty free agent out of the College of Minnesota-Duluth. With a stat line of 11-14-25 by way of 39 video games, he’s monitoring towards profession highs in each main offensive class whereas taking part in greater than 20 minutes a recreation because the Kings’ first-line left winger. What makes Iafallo particular isn’t his standout capability in anyone space however the truth he contributes in so some ways. He toils on the primary power-play unit however performs nearly two minutes per recreation on the penalty kill, too. He’s not a top-notch driver of play on offense, however he grades out as one of the better defensive wingers in the league in terms of suppressing scoring chances and makes a superb two-way linemate to play with two-time Selke Trophy winner Anze Kopitar.
So Iafallo ought to proceed to be an efficient and vital member of the Kings. However don’t be stunned if, over the long run, he transitions from big-minutes first-liner to a worthwhile shutdown middle-six winger. It’s no secret the Kings’ group of prospect forwards is among the many greatest within the NHL, from facilities Quinton Byfield, Alex Turcotte and Rasmus Kupari to wingers Arthur Kaliyev, Akil Thomas and Samuel Fagemo. In the event you undertaking even two thirds of that group to efficiently transition to scoring-line obligation within the NHL over the subsequent couple seasons, and if we assume the Kings will proceed turning into extra aggressive within the Western Convention playoff image, the younger weapons will want veteran leaders to indicate them tips on how to be execs and deal with the more durable defensive matchups. That’s a task Iafallo ought to be capable to fill throughout these previous few seasons of his prime. If a very good variety of L.A.’s prospects pan out and the crew turns into a real Stanley Cup contender within the subsequent two or three seasons, Iafallo initiatives as very best third-line shutdown winger and veteran dressing-room presence. And within the brief time period? He’s a superbly respectable top-six ahead to play main minutes on a crew in transition.
The Kings have stayed extraordinarily affected person since Blake took over as GM in 2017, maintaining each first-round choose and buying an additional one. Prior to now 4 drafts, the Kings chosen 11 gamers within the first two rounds. They’ve offered off veterans similar to Jake Muzzin and Tyler Toffoli to attain extra picks and prospects. They’ve been as stingy as any crew within the league with their free-agent spending. The progressive rating of L.A.’s prospect group, in accordance with our panel of lively NHL scouts and executives, in The Hockey Information Future Watch over the previous 5 years: 30th, 26th, 26th, 13th, and third. They’ve constructed a essential mass of younger gamers to the purpose they not should dump each veteran on deadline day for futures. Sunday night time’s Jeff Carter commerce would possibly go down because the final conventional “rebuilder” transfer of the Blake period. It’s time for the subsequent stage of L.A.’s rise, and it’ll embody Iafallo.