The Kings were in the market for a top-six forward this offseason, and they managed to find one on Thursday.
The Kings acquired veteran forward Viktor Arvidsson from the Predators in a trade that will send a 2021 second-round pick and a 2022 third-round pick the other way.
Let’s examine this deal for both sides.
A bounce back for Arvidsson in Los Angeles?
At his peak Arvidsson was a legitimate top-line scorer that averaged more than 30 goals per season between 2016 and 2019. He drove possession, generated a ton of shots, and had great finishing ability around the net. If the Kings can get that version of Arvidsson (and at age 28 they still might) it would be a significant boost to a rebuilding team that needs more offensive firepower.
The question is whether or not Arvidsson can get back to that sort of level.
Over the past two seasons Arvidsson’s overall offensive production has plummeted across the board, going from a 30-goal 60-point pace over 82 games, all the way down to an 18-goal, 40-point pace over 82 games.
The good news is there are some signs that a bounce back is possible. For one, Arvidsson’s possession numbers remain excellent. When he is on the ice good things tend to happen for his team. He also is coming off of a season where he generated more than three shots on goal per game, but managed only a career-low 6% shooting percentage. For a player that normally shoots north of 10%, there should be some bounce back there.
The price in terms of assets is well worth the gamble for Los Angeles. Even if he does not bounce back it is just two lottery tickets that may never pan out.
The concern, though, is in the contract as Arvidsson makes more than $4 million per season through the 2024 season. If he continues to produce like he did the past two years without a bounce back, that may not be the best use of resources and salary cap space for a rebuilding team.
Salary cap and expansion draft flexibility for Nashville (and maybe a rebuild?)
Obviously the Predators are not getting back any immediate help here in this trade, and given the success rate of second-and third-round draft picks they may never get anything back directly from this trade.
What they are getting though is some additional salary cap flexibility, as well as some expansion draft flexibility.
The Predators are almost certainly one of the teams that will elect to protect four forwards and four defenders, which means there was always going to be a very good chance that a really good forward was going to have to be exposed and perhaps taken by Seattle.
It also sheds more than $4 million per season from their salary cap number over the next three seasons. That is potentially significant for a team that has some holes to fill.
But it could also signal the beginning of some significant changes to the roster. For the first half of the season the Predators looked like a team that was starting a downward turn and in need of a rebuild. It was not until Jusse Saros got white hot in the middle of the season and carried them to a playoff spot that things started to turn around.
Arvidsson has been a significant piece of the Predators core for years and helped them reach the Stanley Cup Final and win a Presidents’ Trophy. Trading a player like that for nothing but draft picks and cap space after a season like this is usually the sign that something else is just around the corner.