Los Angeles Kings: GM Rob Blake “expects to be in the mix” next year

(Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)
(Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images) /

Los Angeles Kings general manager Rob Blake joined the Kings of the Podcast, indicating he fully anticipates the team to be competitive next year

When Rob Blake officially took over duties as the Los Angeles Kings‘ general manager, he had been with the team as an assistant general manager since the 2013-2014 season. Prior to that, he spent 14 of his 21 years in the NHL with the Kings after being taken 70th overall in the 1988 NHL Entry Draft.

Blake joined the guys on the Kings of the Podcast, discussing various coaching changes, life in quarantine, next year’s schedule, and also his early days as the team’s GM. He indicated that when he was first handed the keys, the team was coming off two Stanley Cup titles, and he tried to keep players around for another deep postseason run.

However, when it was apparent that that was not going to happen, he started to trade away assets to free up salary-cap space while stocking up on draft capital. And after back-to-back seasons in which they failed to make the postseason – heck, they haven’t even been close – the Kings are relying on a key core of veterans to supplement the talented farm system; a fruitful farm system that we should all be delighted to watch debut over the next couple of seasons.

And Blake is expecting the team to be competitive next year:

"“I think you gotta be in the mix, you gotta play meaningful games,” Blake said, via Kings of the Podcast. “Todd (McClellan) knows that. We fully understand the position we were in this year. We weren’t adding to the team this year, and that was the hardest part because you had to deal all the way up to the deadline, knowing you were taking quality players, character players, championship players out of your room. Once you got to that deadline and moved forward, now it’s all going forward. Now the expectation is you gotta start playing and you gotta start producing. And the five older guys that we’re counting on, you gotta be able to keep your game high and bring these kids in.”"

The Kings are likely to lose one of those veteran players to the Seattle franchise’s expansion draft after next season. Still, they are going to be rewarded with highly-anticipated debuts by the likes of Alex Turcotte, Arthur Kaliyev, and Rasmus Kupari, just to name a few.

And Blake wouldn’t comment on whether the team would retain unrestricted free-agent, Trevor Lewis, this offseason, but I would expect that the Kings aren’t particularly too active in the free-agent market, outside of their own guys, of course.

They’ll have to let these young kids make their debuts, figure out where they fit, watch the team progress, and then fill in the missing pieces to make another run at a Stanley Cup. And it likely goes without saying but Blake laughed off the question about whether the Kings would trade down from the number two pick in the upcoming NHL Draft.

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He went one step further, adding that the player they’re looking for can’t be just a good player, but a good player that knows how to win. Quinton Byfield, anyone?