Despite being in transition, the LA Kings had several players who took a giant leap forward during the 2019-2020 season.
Despite posting 64 points in a pandemic-shortened season, the LA Kings had several players that took monumental leaps forward, from a development perspective. Understandably so, the team was so bad that it’s often difficult to find the positives in a season like that. However, players that take that next step in their careers will only benefit the team, especially as players from the prospect pool make their way to Los Angeles.
Let’s look at three players who surprised during the 2019-2020 campaign.
1. Alex Iafallo
A 23-year-old Alex Iafallo burst onto the scene during the 2017-2018 season, playing on the LA Kings top line with Anze Kopitar and Dustin Brown. He’s a remarkable story, going undrafted to the team’s first line, scoring nine goals with 16 assists for 25 points in 75 games. In his sophomore year, he scored 15 goals with 18 assists for 33 points over a full season. And most recently, he scored 17 goals with 26 assists for 43 points in a COVID-19 shortened 70 games.
Iafallo’s average time-on-ice has gradually seen an uptick each year that he’s been in the league, as has his shot percentage – 10.1 to 12.0 percent from last year to this – while evermore being incorporated into the team’s powerplay. What I like most about Iafallo’s game is how responsible he is with the puck. He’s managed to reduce the number of giveaways each year, with only 11 recorded this past season.
It’s no secret that he’s my favorite player on this Kings roster. I love a good story, as noted from him being undrafted. You don’t see it very often, and he’s a consistent point-producer for the team. For example, Iafallo’s points per game increased from 0.40 last year to 0.61 this year, breaking down to 0.24 goals per game and 0.37 assists per game. Of the Kings 64 points as a team this past season, Iafallo accounted for a 4.2 point-share.
Now 26, he’s in line for a well-deserved extension after the 2020-2021 season.