Los Angeles Kings: From undrafted to first line, the rise of Alex Iafallo

(Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
(Photo by Harry How/Getty Images) /

Overlooked by scouts in the NHL Draft, Alex Iafallo is quickly becoming a legitimate scoring threat along the Los Angeles Kings first line.

It’s difficult to believe that an undrafted player could be voted Player of the Month three times during the 2019-2020 season, but that’s exactly what happened with Los Angeles Kings forward, Alex Iafallo. Believed to be too small to stick in the NHL, the Eden, New York native has drawn comparisons to Martin St. Louis.

St. Louis, too, went undrafted because of his size, but he only went onto have a Hall of Fame career, scoring 391 career goals. Iafallo has a ways to go for that kind of consideration, but he’s certainly off to a good start. Not long after going undrafted, Iafallo played for the Fargo Force in the USHL, eventually enrolling at the University of Minnesota-Duluth.

There, Iafallo turned the heads of scouts, wanting to sign him, notably after he tallied 21 goals and 30 assists as a senior. Obviously, he signed with the Kings and tallied nine goals with 16 assists in 75 games during the 2017-2018 season. But he uses going unselected as his fuel:

"“A lot of undrafted players, you get a lot of motivation seeing your friends get drafted and stuff that drives you every practice and every workout.”"

Although a natural centerman, Iafallo found success playing left wing on the first line alongside Anze Kopitar and Dustin Brown, and it appears he’s found a permanent home there. The 26-year-old posted his best numbers yet, in a shortened season no less, scoring 17 goals, including six on the man-advantage, with 26 assists.

Iafallo averaged nearly 19 minutes of on-ice time, which was approximately a two-minute increase from last year. During the 2019-2020 season, Iafallo logged a 51.3 Corsi percentage but a -2.5 CorsiRel value. He had the best on-target percentage (75.8) of anyone on the team, by a wide margin, creating 15 rebounds in the process.

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He was second to only Kopitar in terms of offensive goals-above-replacement (6.0) while also providing value on the defensive side (1.7 dGAR) as well. One of the best aspects of his game is that he simply doesn’t turn the puck over. Iafallo coughed the puck up just 11 times all year, which is far and away the best on the team for a player who averaged as much on-ice time. More of an ode to Iafallo here, but he’s gotten better every year in the league.

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Going forward, Iafallo has a legitimate chance to be a 20-30 guy. It’s a shame we didn’t get to see the Kings finish out the regular season because he saw an increase in nearly every category. The front office will have to prioritize re-signing Iafallo, who will become an unrestricted free agent at the conclusion of next season.