Edmonton Oilers Potential Playoff Opponents: LA Kings

Apr 10, 2022; Saint Paul, Minnesota, USA; Los Angeles Kings head coach Todd McLellan looks on during the third period against the Minnesota Wild at Xcel Energy Center. Mandatory Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 10, 2022; Saint Paul, Minnesota, USA; Los Angeles Kings head coach Todd McLellan looks on during the third period against the Minnesota Wild at Xcel Energy Center. Mandatory Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports /
2 of 4
Edmonton Oilers forwards Connor McDavid, #97, and Leon Draisaitl # 29.
Edmonton Oilers forwards Connor McDavid, #97, and Leon Draisaitl # 29. Mandatory Credit: Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports /


Top six forward wise the Edmonton Oilers have two of the three best scorers in the league on their roster. The McDrai duo are both in their prime producing years and will be a handful for the Kings the entire series. They’re flanked on the wings by two great complimentary players in JP the Bison King and Kailer Yamamoto on the right side. Both of these players are physical guys who open up the ice for their superstar centers, and both have proven to be great players in the corners and in JP’s case as a net front presence. Yamamoto also plays on both special teams. At the time of this writing Yamamoto is also close to cracking the 20 goal mark with 18. He’s already shattered his career high in both goals and points weeks ago and we’re now seeing if he can take even more heat off of the dynamic duo by cracking the 20 goal mark for the first time in his career.

On the left side the top six is rounded out by Zack Hyman, offseason free agent signing extraordinaire, another guy who isn’t afraid to mix it up physically and is also having a career year in both goals and points. He’s fit like a glove in our top six all season long. Finishing it up is the most recent arrival in NHL bad boy Evander Kane, who has kept his nose clean off the ice and proven to be a fantastic fit on it. He’s only played here for 34 games and in that time has 16 – yes, 16! – goals. If he keeps going at the torrid pace he’s on right now, he’ll crack the 20 goal mark for the eighth time in his career – in a record low 44 games played for him. Wow.

It’s also worth pointing out that not only that, but these players are all pretty solid defensively, especially as of late. Puljujarvi, McDavid, and Draisaitl in particular are all close or above the +20 mark on the season, which is phenomenal and certainly a nice change of pace from the cringeworthy +/- stats we saw from this team in their rebuilding years.

The Kings have a solid top six but they just can’t match that kind of firepower. Kopitar – who’s still productive at age 34 for the Kings (lucky for them and his $10 million cap hit…) has 18 goals and 61 points in 74 games. The team will have to watch him as he might still burn the Oilers for a goal or two. The other center is Philip Danault, a free agent signing rescued from the dumpster fire of Montreal who has found a new gear in LA – a new career high of 21 goals and 44 points. Good players, just not the best in the league like the Oilers have.

The wingers for the Kings are sniper Adrian Kempe, having a career year with 32 goals. However, it’s worth noting that he only has four games of playoff experience to his game, five seasons ago in which his guns fell silent. While that’s not to say he’ll duplicate that lack of offence again, it doesn’t bode well for the Kings. Then there’s Viktor Arvidsson, another guy signed in free agency last offseason by the Kings who is having a bit of a career renaissance in LA, cracking the 20 goal mark with that exact number at this point for the first time in three seasons. Then there’s complementary winger Alex Iafallo, a guy who puts up solid if unspectacular numbers – in five seasons he has yet to crack the 20 goal mark. Rounding out their top six is normal bottom six player Trevor Moore subbing in for the injured Dustin Brown.

The bottom six forward group goes to the Oilers no question. This is where we see a lack of depth in the Kings organization and a much healthier roster here in Edmonton as a comparison.

The Kings in the bottom six are led by 19 year old 2nd overall pick phenom Quinton Byfield, who is playing in his first full NHL season and has not only struggled with injury this season having played only 34 games for the team up to this point, but as you would expect for a raw 19 year old hasn’t done too much, having only put up 5-3-8 in those 34 games. At least the Kings have the good sense to give him softer competition in the bottom six as they groom him to take over for Kopitar eventually. The other center is fourth liner Blake Lizotte, a good soldier who’s defensively responsible (+11 on the season) and has put up 8 goals and 19 points on the season, pretty good for a fourth liner. The starboard side wingers are Rasmus Kupari, who has put up 12 points in 51 games and fingers crossed for him he can get to the third line minimum of 16 by season’s end. The fourth line guy is Carl Grundstrom, 14 points in 50 games, solid numbers for a fourth liner.

The left side? Gabriel Vilardi taking Moore’s normal spot on the third line left wing. Only three goals in 21 games….meh. On the fourth line is physical veteran guy Brendan Lemieux, he’s put up 11 points in 46 games, par for the course for a fourth liner.

But, still the Edmonton Oilers have the LA Kings beat here as well.

Must Read. Revisiting The Duncan Keith Trade. light

The normal third line of the Edmonton Oilers is quite formidable, centered by Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, who – let’s be honest – on most teams could easily be the second line center if not the first. He has functioned as the second line center/winger when injury strikes. He’s also an integral part of the PP. Then on his port side we have Warren Foegele, who has 25 points on the year with 10 games left to go at the time of this writing. He’s at a team worst -9 on the year, which is a bit concerning, but he’s been much better defensively as of late. The other normal guy is Derek Ryan, who is a mere point away from the magical threshold of 20, the mark that shows legit secondary scoring numbers for a third liner.

The fourth line is often in flux, which is normal, but centering that we have 22 year old youngster Ryan Mcleod who appears to be rounding into form with 18 points. Then there’s the overpaid Zack Kassian, who despite his recent tendency to be invisible for large portions of the season, nonetheless is a passable fourth liner with 16 points. Trade deadline pickup Derrick Brassard rounds out the line, and he has two goals in the nine games he’s played here to go along with the six goals and 16 points he put with Philly on the season prior to the trade.