The Los Angeles Kings improved their roster and the Nashville Predators changed the outlook of their protected list for the upcoming expansion draft.
The Kings Get: RW Viktor Arvidsson
Arvidsson, 28, had a modest 25 points (10 G, 15 A) in 50 games in 2021, scoring on a career-low 6.1% of his shots. But the puck moved the right way with Arvidsson on the ice. His 53.6 CF% ranked second among Predators to play at least 20 games, and 53.7 xGF% ranked third.
Although Arvidsson is a two-time 30-goal scorer, he has tailed off in the past two seasons, managing 25 goals in 107 games. Nevertheless, he looks like a quality buy-low-option because he can at the very least fill a role as a second-line right winger but offers upside to provide more than that as well.
Over the past three seasons, Arvidsson ranks 10th in shot attempts/60 (17.84), 18th in shots/60 (10.01), and 14th in goals/60 (1.15) during 5-on-5 play.
Not only is Arvidsson a productive winger but his contract is entirely reasonable, coming with a $4.25 million cap hit for three more seasons. When it comes to the Kings’ protected list for the expansion draft, Arvidsson would have to be protected but he is a very clear upgrade on the forwards that are on the bubble for the Kings, a group that would include Brendan Lemieux, Austin Wagner, Blake Lizotte, Andreas Athanasiou, Lias Andersson, and Trevor Moore. A couple of those guys will get protected but the rest will be available for the Seattle Kraken to choose.
The Predators Get: A second-round pick in 2021 and a third-round pick in 2022
A pick in the range of where the Kings were set to be selecting, at No. 40, has about a 35% of chance of playing at least 100 games in the National Hockey League. Historically, a third-round pick brings about a 27% chance of yielding an NHL player.
The value in making this deal for the Predators appears to be two-fold. One, they clear out some salary and it’s for a player that would net them a positive return. Nashville has some undesirable contracts clogging up their cap space but there would not be positive value received on the trade market for the likes of Ryan Johansen and Matt Duchene. At least in the case of Arvidsson, the Predators get draft assets in return.
The second feature for the Predators is that this would allow Nashville to protect three forwards and five defensemen in the expansion draft and that might make the most sense for the franchise. They can leave Duchene and Johansen unprotected, because their contracts have plenty of term remaining and their production has not come to close to positive value on their $8 million cap hits. That would leave Filip Forsberg, Luke Kunin, and probably Calle Jarnkrok as three forwards for Nashville to protect, with the idea that they would protect five defensemen: Roman Josi, Ryan Ellis, Mattias Ekholm, Dante Fabbro, and Alexandre Carrier.
Verdict: It is a bit of a strange deal. The Predators are sacrificing some current value, apparently to solidify their base on defense, and the Kings don’t seem to be in the window for acquiring 28-year-old wingers. But the Kings are also better after making this deal and it might be an indication that the days of rebuilding are in the past for the Los Angeles Kings and that the addition of Arvidsson signals a team that is intent on being more competitive next season. Of course, the team intending to be more competitive will be hoping that Arvidsson’s shooting percentage can bounce back because the Kings have already established that finishing around the net is not a particular strength – an all-situations shooting percentage of 8.3% over the past three seasons ranks last in the NHL – and even with solid shot differentials, it is hard to be competitive with the worst shooting percentage in the league.