While the LA Kings rebuild is ongoing, following the Edmonton Oilers strategy can make them competitive for the long-haul.
The Edmonton Oilers feature some of the best young players in the NHL’s 24-team playoff, but while they lost handily to a seasoned Blackhawks team in Game 1, the future remains very bright for the team in orange and blue. And LA Kings fans should be watching because, in two-to-three years, it’s entirely plausible the boys in black and white could be on the cusp of something special as well.
Hopefully, the Kings rebuild doesn’t take 12 years to come to fruition – like the Oilers plan did – along with the threat of general manager and head coaching changes. But from where things currently stand, the organization is in good shape with GM Rob Blake and head coach Todd McLellan at the helm.
With regards to the Oilers, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins was taken with the first overall pick in the 2011 NHL Draft. Two years later, the organization grabbed one of the top defenseman in Darnell Nurse, the next year, Leon Draisaitl, the next, Connor McDavid.
McDavid and Draisaitl are arguably the two best players in the game right now, and they are a testament to how well the Oilers have drafted over the years. There’s a bright side to putting up consecutive sub-70 point seasons between 2012 and 2015, including a dreadful 45 point year during the 2012-2013 campaign — albeit it was a shortened season.
The team finally broke through with a 103-point season in 2016-2017, but they’ve yet to prove it is sustainable.
Where are the LA Kings at in their rebuild?
The Kings’ rebuild is in line with where the Oilers were in the mid-2010s, having top-15 picks in two of the last three drafts and the second overall pick in the upcoming draft. The difference is that the Kings still have some veteran talent left from their Stanley Cup runs on the roster that is playing at a high level.
And while it remains a mystery as to whether they’ll be part of the next competitive team, the future remains bright.
The organization will get a sense of what first-rounders Gabriel Vilardi, Alex Turcotte, Rasmus Kupari, Tobias Bjornfot, and presumably, Quinton Byfield can do at the NHL level over the next couple of seasons. And it’s not just about the first-round talent for the Kings. They’ve drafted so well since Blake took over GM duties that the picks beyond the first round are highly praised by hockey writers.
The franchise also boasts the advantage of having salary cap on their side, which will be instrumental in supplementing drafted talent. We can’t expect every pick to pan out; it’s just not realistic, nor should we expect every first-round pick to be the next (Connor) McDavid.
It’s times like these that make me miss LA Kings playoff hockey, but we can take solace in the fact that the future of the organization is fruitful. Hopefully, defense and a goalie are part of the Kings plans, which have prevented the Oilers from taking that next step.
If the Oilers end up losing to the Blackhawks in the qualifying round, they can still end up with the first overall pick. Landing Alexis Lafrenière is a pretty significant consolation prize, which could make Kings and Oilers games that much more exciting to watch in a couple of years.