Kings’ outlook after bold Kevin Fiala trade, signing

Kings' outlook after bold Kevin Fiala trade, signing
Bruce Kluckhohn/NHLI via Getty Images

On paper, you won’t find many better examples of a team addressing its needs than the Los Angeles Kings trading for (and then extending) speedy winger Kevin Fiala.

Some people are reluctant (bearish?) about Kevin Fiala. If I were a Kings fan, I’d be absolutely delighted, though.

Let’s pick this apart, then. How might Fiala fit with the Kings, and where could things stumble? How does this affect the Kings’ salary cap outlook? Should they start planning parade routes like the Avalanche for next summer?

Mmm, maybe don’t buy confetti in bulk just yet. But there’s reason for optimism and intrigue.

The bad and mostly good: what Kevin Fiala brings to the Kings

During the 2021-22 season (and throughout their seven-game series vs. the Oilers), the Kings massively overachieved. Or, at least, they exceed expectations.

Well, maybe it depends upon how you use/modify the word “expectation.” That’s because the Kings scored fewer goals than you’d expect, given the chances they created.

via Hockey Viz

During the regular season, the Kings were at or near the top-10 in stats such as expected goals percentage and high-danger chance share. Credit Todd McLellan and the rest of the organization for putting together the sort of structure that tilts the ice in the right direction.

The Kings surprised as a playoff team. They deserve credit, however, for playing like a playoff team.

It’s just that the execution wasn’t there to turn scoring chances into goals. Enter Kevin Fiala.

[More on the Fiala trade between Kings and Wild]

Simply put, wingers who can create their own offense — thanks to blazing speed and brilliant skill — are not common. What if Fiala’s skill and finish blends seamlessly with the Kings’ sturdy structure?

Quietly, the Kings were an effective team off the rush this season. It’s one of the factors that made them a nuisance for the Oilers. Fiala adds speed with the extra bonus of impressive finishing touch.

In an episode of “The Hockey PDOcast,” Dimitri Filipovic pondered how Anze Kopitar‘s playmaking could blend with Fiala’s skills. After all, Fiala took off when combined with Matt Boldy after trying to make the most of a mostly motley crew of centers in Minnesota.

But the enticing thing is that Fiala still created offense when he was doing so much of it on his own.

Sure, putting Fiala out there with less-seasoned linemates would increase the already notable odds of him not matching his career-highs (33 goals, 85 points) from last season. Yet, if the Kings love what Kopitar accomplished with Adrian Kempe, it’s an option.

Picture, for instance, what Fiala might accomplish with Quinton Byfield. For his size, Byfield’s noted not just for skill, but mobility. Perhaps Fiala and Byfield could really make something happen, possibly with a “give-and-go” style of transition that can play to those strengths? Such a combination is interesting to think about, especially if there are worries about mitigating defensive issues for Fiala and a young center still finding his place in the NHL.

Sometimes good “on paper” doesn’t pan out on the ice

To reiterate, the dream is for Fiala to fit seamlessly into the Kings’ system, providing crucial offense. In that scenario, the team would be prepared for any drawbacks defensively.

Hockey Viz’s Micah Blake McCurdy captured this thought process well. Apparently, the Wild indeed embraced Fiala’s offense and basically took care of the rest:

This section opens the door to the possible downside. What if the Kings, especially head coach Todd McLellan, find Fiala’s defensive shortcomings grating?

Through two stops (Predators, then Wild), teams/coaches sometimes seemed frustrated with the Swiss scorer. At a young age and following a 23-goal season, the Predators traded Kevin Fiala in-season (2018-19) to the Wild. Heading into this offseason, you can almost picture the grumbles when reading what Bill Guerin said about a strong “few months” from Fiala.

To an extent, this smells like a typical case of a team that was souring on a player really souring on them after a cold streak. The Oilers traded Jordan Eberle after he failed to score a goal in 13 playoff games. But maybe that was the last straw instead of a single dud run that caused an overreaction? (With the Oilers, it could also just be a huge overreaction … they’ve biffed these situations plenty of times.)

For all we know, Fiala’s puny playoff production may have been strike three for Wild management.

[Adam Gretz argued for the Wild to find a way to keep Fiala, but it was not meant to be]

In other words, there are elements of Kevin Fiala’s game that could frustrate the Kings at times. A defensively responsible team may not love every risk he takes. If Fiala’s asked to carry a line, people may frown during scoring droughts.

So, there’s room for this to have some ups and downs. However, I’d argue that the steady-and-structured Kings could really benefit from a shot in the arm from a winger who’s more of a “wild card.”

Kings’ salary cap landscape after Kevin Fiala trade, contract signing

As time goes on, people can debate the value of Kevin Fiala’s seven-year extension ($7.875 million cap hit) all they want. The same people might flip-flop on that question more than once until it expires after the 2028-29 season. Either way, the 25-year-old’s contract is now on the books.

What about the larger salary cap picture for the Kings, post-Fiala contract? Cap Friendly estimates about $12M in salary cap space for the Kings.

Ponder some of the pieces in place, and ones that may become more expensive over time.

  • Drew Doughty, 32, carries a team-leading $11M cap hit through 2026-27. At times, his declining underlying stats provided fodder for debate. His “fancy stats” rebounded last season, but his health luck went south. If Doughty’s at or near an elite level and healthy, it might feel like another boost for the Kings.
  • Anze Kopitar, 34, has a $10M cap hit, but merely through 2023-24. Though no longer a top NHL center, he’s still quite effective. Having Kempe and/or Fiala do the legwork for him shouldn’t hurt.
  • Phillip Danault, 29, proved he had scoring punch to go along with stifling playoff defense. The Kings have him signed at $5.5M through 2026-27. That looked like a steal early on; we’ll see how he ages.
  • Most of the Kings’ other forward expenses are short/mid-term (Alex Iafallo stands out among the mid-term contracts). Adrian Kempe, 25, is due a new deal as an RFA.
  • Of course, the Kings must prepare for potential spikes for prospects down the line. Quinton Byfield, Alex Turcotte, and Arthur Kaliyev have two seasons apiece remaining on their current deals. Maybe none of them will make big leaps. There’s uncertainty about their ultimate costs, though.
  • The Kings’ defensive spending is mostly unclear beyond Doughty. Matt Roy, 27, carries a $3.15M cap hit for the next two seasons. Sneaky-solid 23-year-old defenseman Sean Durzi is an RFA. Fellow promising emerging defenseman Jordan Spence is cheap for two more seasons.

Murky situation in net?

Maybe the fuzziest situation is with their goalies. On Sept. 22, 2021, Cal Petersen signed a three-year extension that carries a $5M cap hit. The 27-year-old’s deal has a 10-team no-trade clause. Upon signing, it seemed sensible enough. He was becoming the Kings’ No. 1 goalie.

Instead, Jonathan Quick started more games (46 to 35) during the regular season, and nabbed the playoff No. 1 job from Petersen.

Quick, 36, is entering a contract year on a $5.8M cap hit. That’s right, the contract the Kings bragged about, and then were mocked about, is somehow almost finished.

At the moment, the indication is that the Kings may embrace a “goalie battle” between Petersen and Quick again this season. That said, we’re talking about a $10.8M “goalie battle” here.

For whatever it’s worth, Quick doesn’t have trade protection, while Petersen boasts that aforementioned 10-team trade protection. If the Kings want to be even more aggressive, that would be easier to pull off if at least one of their goalies was a little (or a lot) cheaper.

How far along are the Kings?

With Kevin Fiala added, how dangerous could the 2022-23 Los Angeles Kings be?

All due respect to Fiala, that answer may lean on how you view the past season. Pessimists may note that they only scored three more goals (239) than they allowed (236). Realists will point out very competitive underlying stats. Optimists would then daydream about Fiala being the perfect fit, and prospects leaping forward, not just making positive steps.

Really, some of it will be out of the Kings’ hands. Will the Flames be vulnerable after losing Johnny Gaudreau or Matthew Tkachuk? Might the Oilers sabotage gains made with foolish offseason tweaks? Do we see the return of an elite Golden Knights roster, or have we already seen that franchise’s best? How competent will the Canucks, Ducks, and others be?

Fiala and some nice improvements from prospects aren’t likely to push the Kings to the truly elite level. Would you be surprised if the Kings made the playoffs and maybe even won a round or two next season, though? That’s already the sort of progress that eludes other rebuilding teams for many years.

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    Flames’ Darryl Sutter wins 2022 Jack Adams Award

    Flames' Darryl Sutter wins 2022 Jack Adams Award
    Derek Leung/Getty Images

    Calgary Flames head coach Darryl Sutter won the 2022 Jack Adams Award, beating out finalists Andrew Brunette (Panthers) and Gerard Gallant (Rangers).

    The NHL’s Broadcasters Association votes on the Jack Adams Award, which is given to the coach “adjudged to have contributed the most to his team’s success.”

    Rangers fans will probably be happy to note that Gerard Gallant is the only Jack Adams finalist still active in the 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs. Those scamps.

    Darryl Sutter wins his first Jack Adams Award after strong Flames season

    This is the first time Darryl Sutter, 63, won a Jack Adams Award. He’s not the first Sutter to win one, however. His brother Brian Sutter (the 1991 winner) presented the award to Darryl.

    While the Flames missed the playoffs last season, there exhibited subtle structure improvements under Sutter. In 2021-22, the Flames ran away with the Pacific Division title, generating a 50-21-11 record for 111 standings points. That’s seven points ahead of the second-place Oilers (104).

    Of course, the Oilers went on to eliminate the Flames in “The Battle of Alberta.” Did Darryl Sutter adjust properly to Connor McDavid‘s megastar performance? That’s subjective, and a matter of debate.

    Overall, though, Darryl Sutter did tremendous work this season. Personally, he was the clear choice for the 2022 Jack Adams Award.

    In the Jack Adams voting system, Sutter ended up taking 353 points, including 54 first-place votes. Andrew Brunette finished second (249, 31 first-place votes). Gallant finished third (142, 12 first-place), and Dean Evason was the closest to being a finalist (111, seven first-place).

    Flames' Darryl Sutter wins 2022 Jack Adams Award
    via the NHL

    More 2022 NHL Awards announcements coming this week

    The NHL is rolling out some of its award winners this week. The process began with Kings’ center Anze Kopitar winning the Mark Messier Leadership Award on Wednesday night.

    As the week moves along, we’ll find out who won the Bill Masterton Trophy, Willie O’Ree Community Hero Award, Selke Trophy, Lady Byng Trophy, and King Clancy Trophy.

    The other major NHL award winners will be revealed on June 21 in a one hour live show during the 2022 Stanley Cup Final. That night, we’ll learn who won the Hart, Norris, Calder, and Vezina Trophies, along with the Ted Lindsay Award.

    (According to the NHL, the finalists for the Jim Gregory General Manager of the Year, which is voted on after the Second Round, will be announced on June 21. The winner will be revealed during the NHL Draft on July 7-8.)


    How PHT’s staff viewed the Jack Adams Award race

    In PHT’s Jack Adams Award ballots, Darryl Sutter dominated. The veteran Flames coach received three out of five first-place votes, one second-place vote, and one third.

    Interestingly, Kings coach Todd McLellan finished second in PHT’s voting, but was not a Jack Adams Award finalist.

    Other coaches receiving PHT staff votes for the Jack Adams Award included: Andrew Brunette (finishing third), Gerard Gallant (fourth), and three coaches getting a third-place vote: Dean Evason, Mike Sullivan, and Bruce Cassidy.


    2022 NHL Awards: PHT’s ballots for the Jack Adams Award

    jack adams
    Ethan Miller/Getty Images

    [UPDATE: Darryl Sutter has been voted the NHL’s 2021-22 winner.]

    The NHL has started announcing winners for some its annual awards. Beginning with the Mark Messier Leadership Award Wednesday night, we will find out the winners of the Jack Adams Awards, Bill Masterton Trophy, Willie O’Ree Community Hero Award, Selke Trophy, Lady Byng Trophy, and King Clancy Trophy over the next week.

    The other major NHL award winners will be revealed on June 21 in a one hour live show during the 2022 Stanley Cup Final. That night, we’ll learn who won the Hart, Norris, Calder, and Vezina Trophies, along with the Ted Lindsay Award.

    (According to the NHL, the finalists for the Jim Gregory General Manager of the Year, which is voted on after the Second Round, will be announced on June 21. The winner will be revealed during the NHL Draft on July 7-8.)

    The Pro Hockey Talk staff made our own votes for a collective ballot. Each place was given a numerical value with 10 points for first, 7 points for second, and 5 points for third.

    Votes were submitted by PHT writers Sean Leahy, James O’Brien, and Adam Gretz, as well as Michael Finewax, Rotoworld Senior Hockey Writer/Editor, and Jake Abrahams, NBCSports.com Managing Editor of NHL content. All ballots were submitted before the start of the 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

    Andrew Brunette, Gerard Gallant and Darryl Sutter are the finalists for the 2021-22 Jack Adams Award, which is voted on by the NHL Broadcasters’ Association.

    Here is how the ballots came out from the PHT team:

    1. Darryl Sutter, Calgary Flames (30-7-5) 42 pts.
    2. Todd McLellan, Los Angeles Kings (10-14-0) 24 pts.
    3. Andrew Brunette, Florida Panthers (10-7-0) 17 pts.
    —————————————————–
    4. Gerard Gallant, New York Rangers (0-0-10) 10 pts.
    5. Dean Evason, Minnesota Wild (0-0-5) 5 pts.
    Mike Sullivan, Pittsburgh Penguins (0-0-5) 5 pts.
    Bruce Cassidy, Boston Bruins (0-0-5) 5 pts.

    Jack Adams Award
    Brian Babineau/NHLI via Getty Images

    JACK ADAMS AWARD (Awarded to the NHL head coach “adjudged to have contributed the most to his team’s success.”)

    James O’Brien, NHL writer

    1. Darryl Sutter, Calgary Flames
    2. Todd McLellan, Los Angeles Kings
    3. Bruce Cassidy, Boston Bruins

    The night-and-day difference between the Flames before and after Darryl Sutter is one heck of an argument for coaches actually making a big difference in the NHL. While they accomplished things with very different teams (at least age-wise), McLellan and Cassidy got the most out of the rosters they were given. All three of these coaches deserve recognition for setting up teams with outstanding structure, especially (but not exclusively) on defense.

    Michael Finewax, NBC Sports Edge Senior Hockey Writer/Editor

    1. Darryl Sutter, Calgary Flames
    2. Dean Evason, Minnesota Wild
    3. Gerard Gallant, New York Rangers

    Not too many pundits thought that the Flames would be near the top of the Pacific Division, especially considering they did not make the playoffs last season in the all-Canadian division but lo and behold, Sutter got the Flames to finish first quite easily. Evason’s Wild were great to finish second in the Central while Gallant got the Rangers a playoff spot in the Metropolitan after he was let go by Vegas in Jan. 2020.

    Jake Abrahams, Managing Editor, NHL content

    1. Andrew Brunette, Florida Panthers
    2. Todd McLellan, Los Angeles Kings
    3. Darryl Sutter, Calgary Flames

    I am not a believer in just picking the coach of the Presidents’ Trophy winner for this award, but in this case, it is warranted. Although the Panthers came into the year with an extremely talented team, Joel Quenneville’s departure early on meant that Andrew Brunette inherited a challenging situation, and he was able to keep the team on track through that adversity. I could see this award being extremely tight in the voting, with both Todd McLellan and Darryl Sutter leading impressive turnarounds of non-playoff teams from a year ago in the Pacific Division.

    Sean Leahy, NHL writer

    1. Darryl Sutter, Calgary Flames
    2. Andrew Brunette, Florida Panthers
    3. Gerard Gallant, New York Rangers

    Sutter, like he did in LA, showed up in Calgary and proceeded to begin a franchise turnaround for the Flames. It paid off as they went from out of the playoffs in the North Division in 2020-21 to Pacific Division winners and the sixth-best record in all of the NHL. They are now contenders, as long as they can retain some of their bigger names, and with the play of Jacob Markstrom, they should remain near the top of the league.

    Adam Gretz, NHL writer

    1. Todd McLellan, Los Angeles Kings
    2. Darryl Sutter, Calgary Flames
    3. Mike Sullivan, Pittsburgh Penguins

    McLellan helped guide a young, rebuilding team to a surprising playoff berth and he did not need a goalie to carry his team there. They were simply a good hockey team and their future is extremely bright. Sullivan does not get enough attention in this discussion every year and deserves to at least be a finalist. His team dealt with constant injuries all season and still finished in the top-three of a tough division and was well over 100 points again.

    LA Kings build another contender 8 years after raising Cup

    la kings
    Codie McLachlan/Getty Images

    EL SEGUNDO, Calif. — The Los Angeles Kings raised the Stanley Cup for the second time in June 2014, punctuating a phenomenal three-year run in which the longtime NHL afterthoughts won 10 playoff series as one of the most tenacious teams in hockey.

    And then the Kings won just one playoff game in nearly eight years between that Cup title and Monday’s series-opening victory in Edmonton.

    Getting to the pinnacle of the sport was a long, laborious process for a Second Six franchise that won one conference title in its first 43 seasons of existence. That three-year period of success from 2012-14 was a comfort to LA’s long-suffering fans well after their team slipped back into the NHL pack.

    With a roster that exceeded many expectations this season just by making the playoffs, the Kings are starting to believe that getting back to the top might not take decades again.

    Coach Todd McLellan loves the progress Los Angeles has made heading into Game 3 on Friday night tied 1-1 with the star-studded Oilers in their first-round series. The Kings are still underdogs, but they are confident they are building something.

    “I think it gives us a marker on the line of evolution, and the marker moves each year,” McLellan said of the Kings’ first playoff berth in four years.

    “The marker on the line was actually moving backwards the first few years, and now it’s come back to even, and starting to move towards where we need to take it,” McLellan added. “That’s a reflection on the plan, the resiliency of the plan, the scouting staff, development team, everybody and anybody that’s involved in the organization, including the players.”

    The Kings slid slowly from their peak while former general manager Dean Lombardi’s front office mightily tried to preserve a championship-winning culture. They handed out enormous contracts with baffling regularity, and they ended up regretting many of them.

    Trapped between reloading and rebuilding, the Kings finally were forced to change nearly every key component of their franchise over the past eight seasons. The team that takes the ice in downtown Los Angeles for Game 3 on Friday night has only a few things in common with the champions who raised the two title banners hanging in the rafters.

    Yet the Kings managed to preserve a remarkable, nearly unique foundation in the modern game.

    Four players remain on the roster from their two championship teams. Because star defenseman Drew Doughty is out for the season after wrist surgery, only three are playing against the Oilers — and with Dustin Brown’s pending retirement, only three will be back next season.

    What a quartet it is, however: Brown, Doughty, Anze Kopitar and Jonathan Quick were drafted and developed by the Kings between 2003 and 2008, and they’ve been together for the past 14 seasons.

    Few teams in all sports can boast of such continuity — and while the Kings overhauled their front office, made three coaching changes and replaced every other player on the roster since their championships, those four have stayed to give Los Angeles an identity, a ticket-selling focal point and an institutional memory of success.

    “Those four guys take the lead,” general manager Rob Blake said. “That’s the reason this team is where it’s at. … It makes it a heck of a lot easier from our point of view because they have been able to win. A lot of times, you’re like, ‘Well, do we keep (the core)? Have they been able to (win)?’ They’ve been able to do that.”

    Yet the Kings treaded water for several seasons in a mediocre stretch that continued even after Blake took charge of the front office in 2017 and McLellan took over behind the bench in 2019. The current season loomed as a vital stage in the process after the Kings finished seventh and sixth in the Pacific Division in McLellan’s first two years.

    But the current Kings developed a clear identity that resulted in a 44-27-11 regular season and 99 points — their most since 2016.

    Los Angeles wins by relentlessly clogging the neutral zone, doggedly defending its opponents’ top players and doing enough offensively to score 235 goals, fewer than every playoff team except Dallas. Their defense is bolstered by an incredible bounce-back season from Quick, the former Conn Smythe Trophy winner whose career in LA appeared to be all but over a season ago.

    While Brown and captain Kopitar provide leadership and points, the second generation of talent is emerging alongside Blake’s canny acquisitions of veterans Phillip Danault and Viktor Arvidsson. Adrian Kempe had career highs of 35 goals and 54 points in his All-Star season, and Southern California native Trevor Moore chipped in with a career-high 48 points.

    The Kings persevered through a 1-5-1 start to the season and ensuing injury problems to emerge as the third-best team in the Pacific Division. Even if they don’t manage to upset the Oilers, Los Angeles is building a base of success for its next generation.

    “Some of the young guys have taken on (leadership) roles that maybe necessarily weren’t expect from them just because we had so many guys hurt throughout the season,” Kopitar said. “They’ve handled a bit more pressure than maybe we should’ve put ’em through to begin with, so I like where our team is at.”

    The Wraparound: Lightning begin quest for third straight Stanley Cup

    The Wraparound is your daily look at the 2022 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs. We’ll break down the NHL playoff games today with the all-important television information.

    • Bruins-Hurricanes kicks off opening day First-Round slate

    • Lightning begin their march towards a Stanley Cup three-peat against Maple Leafs

    • No Andersen for Hurricanes; Ullmark gets start for Bruins

    The Tampa Bay Lightning’s quest for a third consecutive Stanley Cup will begin in Toronto Monday night (7:30 p.m. ET). The odds are against the back-to-back champions to add another ring to their collection, and the team realizes just how difficult the road will be for them.

    “Just because you’ve gone through it doesn’t mean you’re automatically, ‘Well, hey, we’ve done this before,'” said head coach Jon Cooper. “It’s still hard work and that’s what our group’s been good at. They understand the work you’ve got to put in and fighting through adversity at times, it takes work.”

    During their last two Cup runs, the Lightning has never dropped consecutive games and only trailed in a series three times — all three coming in Game 1s. Taking that opening game has proven important in NHL history. Teams win Game 1 in a best-of-seven series are 499-228 (.868) all time.

    The Lightning will be tested against a Maple Leafs team that has home-ice advantage and finished with 115 points, five ahead of Tampa Bay in the Atlantic Division. Their lineup is loaded with offensive talent, including 60-goal scorer Auston Matthews, that will challenge goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy.

    [NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs 2022 First Round schedule, TV info]

    “We’ve got to make it hard on him,” said Cooper. “It’s hard enough with his skill set. You can’t let Auston Matthews go unabated right down the pipe, time after time again. You could give him a right-handed stick and he’d score.

    “I was a little disappointed on how free we let him roam around. You can’t do that with him.”

    Cooper was referencing the last time these two teams met — a 6-2 Toronto win on April 4 where Matthews recorded a hat trick and four-point night.

    While the Lightning want the three-peat, the Maple Leafs have their own pressure to deal with. Toronto has not won a playoff series since 2004, coincidentally the year in which the Lightning won their first Cup. They set franchise regular-season records for wins (54) and points (115); celebrated Matthews’ career year; and now have the task of taking on a team eyeing a third-straight title.

    “If you are going to push through the obstacle that we need to get through here you might as well start with the best,” said Maple Leafs head coach Sheldon Keefe. “These are the champs. Anytime we’ve been challenged as a hockey team this season, we’ve responded really well. So, I think that we have great respect for Tampa Bay, [and] there’s no arguing it, debating it, they are the class of the League at this point. They’ve proven that, they’ve earned that, but there’s no doubt our team will be ready for them.”

    NHL PLAYOFF GAMES TODAY

    Game 1: Bruins at Hurricanes, 7 p.m. ET – ESPN: Frederik Andersen will not be in net for Game 1 as he recovers from a lower-body injury that’s cost him six games already. Antti Raanta is expected between the pipes for Carolina while Linus Ullmark gets the nod for the Bruins, who have won the last three times he was in goal. “You want to be playing your best hockey as the playoffs near, and I think you could certainly say he is,” said Boston head coach Bruce Cassidy.

    Game 1: Blues at Wild, 9:30 p.m. ET – ESPN: In other goalie news, Blues head coach Craig Berube would not reveal whether Jordan Binnington or Ville Husso would be his Game 1 starter. They tandem pretty much split St. Louis’ final 11 games of the regular season where they went 8-2-1. Marcus Foligno is expected to play after suffering an injury following a knee-on-knee hit with Avalanche forward Kurtis MacDermid on Friday. “It’s the playoffs,” Foligno said Sunday. “It’d feel wrong sitting out. Just something you gotta play through for a while, and I can do that. Obviously, there’s a little bit more equipment on the knee but other than that, I feel pretty good skating-wise and I wouldn’t be out there if I didn’t feel like I could play. So, I feel pretty good.”

    Game 1: Kings at Oilers, 10 p.m. ET – ESPN2: Jay Woodcroft was Todd McLellan’s video coach when the two were with the Red Wings over a decade ago and they paired up again in Edmonton years later with Woodcroft moving up to an assistant coach role. Now the two will vie for a spot in the Western Conference semifinals. McLellan’s Kings will have their hands full trying to slow one of the league’s top offenses with Leon Draisaitl and Connor McDavid leading the charge. One big question for the Oilers is will Mike Smith‘s play hold up? The netminder was outstanding in April with a .948 5-on-5 save percentage, leading Edmonton to a 9-0-0 record while he was in goal.

    TUESDAY’S NHL PLAYOFF SCHEDULE

    Game 1: Penguins at Rangers, 7 p.m. ET – ESPN
    Game 1: Capitals at Panthers, 7:30 p.m. ET – ESPN2
    Game 1: Predators at Avalanche, 9:30 p.m. ET – ESPN
    Game 1: Stars at Flames, 9:30 p.m. ET – ESPN2

    PHT’s 2022 Stanley Cup previews
    Maple Leafs vs. Lightning

    Hurricanes vs. Bruins
    Blues vs. Wild
    • Avalanche vs. Predators
    Oilers vs. Kings

    Flames vs. Stars

    NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs 2022 schedule, TV info
    First Round, Stanley Cup predictions
    • NHL Draft Lottery set: Canadiens have best odds for top pick
    Why your team will (and will not) win the Stanley Cup