LA Kings: Carl Grundstrom’s versatility gives him an edge

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

A restricted free agent heading into the offseason, Carl Grundstrom’s ability to play both wingers positions makes him a re-sign candidate for the LA Kings.

Is there a long-term scenario where Carl Grundstrom slots into the LA Kings first line? He played several games alongside Anze Kopitar and Jeff Carter in November after being recalled from Ontario to help with the team’s scoring woes. And while the sample size is limited to roughly 34 minutes on-ice together, the Grundstrom-Kopitar-Carter line played very well, logging an xGF60 value of 3.2 compared to an xGA60 value of 1.5.

Basically meaning that the line was an offensive threat.

While he didn’t score any goals, Grundstrom tallied four assists and a +2 rating in limited playing time, as well as a 55.7 CorsiFor percentage and a 2.3 CorsiRel value. The bulk of his time came at Ontario, scoring 12 goals with 16 assists, primarily playing with Martin Frk and Gabriel Vilardi.

Grundstrom is a left-handed shot, but he can play both winger positions, with approximately a 50-50 split of shots from both sides of the ice. He’s a restricted free agent this offseason, projecting to fetch a one-year deal worth $824,000, per Evolving Hockey. I expect the Kings to bring him back, and there’s potential for him to garner regular playing next year at the NHL level.

With Nikolai Prokhorkin leaving the team for the KHL, Trevor Lewis likely to depart in free agency, and the unknown longevity of Frk, there could be a few roster spots left to an open competition. Grundstrom is a big, physical forward, who protects the puck, and he’s extremely aggressive around the net.

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The Kings need a guy like that, who can get to the puck first and keep it away from trailing defenders. Despite playing in just 13 games last year, Grundstrom logged a 2.6 offensive goals-above-replacement, which was better than Michael Amadio, who played in 68 games.

He’s consistently been lauded for his ability to follow-up on shot attempts, which creates more scoring chances.

“Carl has a lethal shot,” Former Reign coach Mike Stothers said, via Los Angeles Times. “It’s heavy, and he has a quick release. He shoots in stride, he tips pucks, and he goes to the net, that’s what a goal scorer does.”

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While the majority of the top two lines are set for next year, the best battles in training camp are going to be on the third and fourth lines with guys like Viladri, Frk, Amadio, and Grundstrom fighting for a permanent spot.