3. Can players like Alex Iafallo take a step forward?
While the Los Angeles Kings are pretty firmly separated into two camps – the remnants of their title runs and their new guys barely old enough to buy alcohol – there are a few players who made their debut/were drafted between 2014-18 who are kind of stuck in between.
Sure, some of these players have without a doubt proven that they can play in the NHL, like 2017 UDFA Alex Iafallo, 2015 seventh-round pick Matt Roy, and 2014 first-round pick Adrian Kempe have all become fixtures of the Kings’ top-two offensive and defensive lines, while others like Michael Amadio, Austin Wagner, and Michael Eyssimont haven’t been so lucky.
Can any of these players take a significant step forward in 2021?
Even if players like Quinton Byfield and Alex Turcotte (more on them later) are the Kings’ future, cementing another star out of one of the team’s mid-20s performers would go a long way in providing Los Angeles with a firm nucleus to build around well into the future.
Sure, the Kings still have players like captain Anze Kopitar, Drew Doughty, and to a lesser extent Dustin Brown and Jonathan Quick who are collective living legends in Los Angeles hockey and should serve as valuable resources for this new crop of 22-and-under princes(?) to learn from, but eventually those players will move on either via free agency, retirement, or trade. If, however, a player like Iafallo – I’m really banking on Iafallo here, I really think he has something – can cement his place as the next Anze Kopitar, it’ll be huge for the longevity of the next Kings dynasty.
Let’s just say when the last time any team drafted a player who has amassed more than 42 goals over his career was back in 2012 – Tanner Pearson, in case you didn’t know – developing a single homegrown prospect into a household name would be a welcomed addition.