The 2021 Los Angeles Kings wrapped up the 2020 season with a hot streak and are looking to carry that into the 2021 season. They had a bounce-back performance from Dustin Brown while Jeff Carter, when healthy, still showed mid-teens goal potential. They also saw growth from Alex Iafallo and Adrian Kempe at the NHL level while top prospects tore up the junior or college levels.
This team is building in the right direction and with the infusion of even more young talent is poised to be one of the more exciting scrappy teams to watch. Similar to the Detroit Red Wings, they have veterans around good young budding prospects. The difference is they are a step ahead of the Red Wings in their rebuild and are in one of the weaker realigned divisions. So without further delay let us dive into how the 2021 Los Angeles Kings lines will shake out and why.
2021 LA Kings First line
Alex Iafallo (19) Anze Kopitar (11) Jeff Carter (77)
Jeff Carter Still has at least mid-teens goal potential as displayed by his 17 goals in 60 games last year. He still moves well on his skates for his age despite injuries. His shooting ability combined with Kopitar’s dominant two-way game could make for a good veteran top-line duo. Kopitar is still one of the most dangerous centers in the game.
Usually, even in a down season for the team, Kopitar in a full season is guaranteed at least 60 points while playing Selke level defense. Those traits combined with the aforementioned top traits of Carter match up well to those of Iafallo in my opinion.
The undrafted Iafallo has worked his tail off to become a now steady NHL player. He broke out last year with 43 points and matched on a line with Carter and Kopitar I do not see why he cannot at least have a repeat performance if not better. Equivalent to 56 games of course. Will either Iafallo and Carter remain on the top line as youngsters grow? Who knows, but for now I believe this can be a very effective top-line providing good offensive, defensive, and play-making ability. Therefore, for the reasons listed above I think this is the best 2021 Los Angeles Kings first line option.
2021 Second Line
Now onward to the 2021 Los Angeles Kings second line. When healthy Vilardi has been money and, per reports, has had a strong camp. He was just under a point per game in the AHL with 25 points in 32 games. He also had a great stretch of games when called up, notching seven points in 10 games. The Kings hope the former 11th overall pick can stay healthy this season and fully establish himself at the NHL level.
If healthy, he can be penciled into their top six. He uses his body well and is not afraid to go to the dirty areas. Vilardi also would be in a prime spot to use his full play-making ability if this alignment did become the case. With young emerging stud Turcotte, who was great in the WJC, and the improving Kempe, Villardi would have the potential to sour and become the leader of this line.
Turcotte, as many know as a top-five pick in 2019, is a potentially elite player. All he has done has shown off that skill while at Wisconsin. Also, he stepped up big in his second WJC tournament. Those two put together lead to the belief that he is NHL ready but, due to their center options, will likely play on the wing to start.
That is why I placed Turcotte on my second line as a winger. As for Kempe he just needs to keep plugging away. He has shown flashes of peak ability. Now he just needs to put it together. Putting him with two other young and hungry players certainly can help him to do so. So for that reason and the others listed above, I believe this is the best second line for the 2021 Los Angeles Kings.
2021 Third Line
Onto the other premier Kings prospect Quinton Byfield who will appear on the 2021 Los Angeles Kings third line. At least in this projection. Just like the aforementioned Alex Turcotte, fans are jumping for joy to see Byfield in the NHL. Just like Turcotte, Byfield had a good WJC tournament. He also had back-to-back stellar seasons in the OHL for the Sudbury Wolves.
There is no question this man is close to ready if not already ready for the NHL. Why not give him a shot from the jump and if it doesn’t work out he can also be sent back to develop further. That probably won’t be happening though. Byfield is poised to use his big 6’4″ frame effectively and have a Calder trophy contending rookie season.
The big frame of Byfield combined with the fast skating of another bigger skater in Athanasiou could make a very nice combination. The problem with Athanasiou is in the past he has had commitment and consistency issues at times. Even with that, he has still been able to put up solid seasons and, in 2018-19, very good numbers. If he can fully put it together the combined size and skating ability of both Byfield and Athanasiou could be a real treat for defenses.
They’ll be lined up with their third Musketeer, Dustin Brown, who brings more fire and grit to the line which is a huge bonus. Brown does not only bring the spunk, but also experience to a line with a young stud and another player who is still trying to fully prove himself talent-wise. If Brown can perform like last year and Byfield competes for the Calder, this will be a very good third line. The question of how good remains in what Athanasiou shows up. For those reasons, this should be the 2021 Los Angeles Kings top notch third line.
2021 Fourth Line
The explanation for the 2021 Los Angeles Kings fourth line is simple. It is an old school mentality. Undrafted Luff, if he can just improve his positioning on defense more can become another good undrafted pick up for the Kings. Luff puts the rounding and pounding hits on skaters with the best of them. If he can develop consistency on defense he can be a nice little player.
Amadio would be centering this line. He has shown himself to be a good AHL player and an alright bottom-six NHL player. His solid skating ability with gritty physical play combines well with Wagner and Luff. Amadio is on the last year of his deal so it would behoove the Kings to see what he can fully do for them.
Lastly, Wagner is a former fourth-round pick who has developed nicely. He can lay on the big hits while supplying good bottom line offense. He too is a player who I think has more defensive ability than he has shown thus far too. I believe coming into his third full season now, he is poised for his best season.
Wagner’s best play combined with the physical missile-like player in Luff will pair together nicely. Once you put them together with Amadio, that’s three players still trying to establish themselves on one line. That can lead to a very fun-to-watch, maximum effort line all the time.
If the inexperience prevails, the Kings can shake up the lines. But this feels like it will be a good bottom line to run out and bring some skill, but also, add great round and pounding physical play to the Kings lineup. That plus the many other reasons listed above is why this will be the best fourth line for the 2021 Los Angeles Kings.
Those are the projected lines for the young and exciting up-and-coming 2021 LosAngeles Kings. No matter the lines, one thing is for certain; this team is going to be a fun, young, and exciting team to watch. Stay tuned for the 2021 Los Angeles Kings Defense and Special Teams projection article coming out soon.
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