The Los Angeles Kings are desperate for an offensive spark and may need to find it outside the organization.
Darryl Sutter’s team ranks 29th in goals scored, 28th in power-play percentage and only two players — Jeff Carter and Anze Kopitar — have more than 14 goals. The scoring production from the bottom-six forwards has also been inconsistent for most of the season.
According to Elliotte Friedman of Hockey Night in Canada, the Kings are interested in Edmonton Oilers center Sam Gagner.
“The one move that has been talked about to some degree and looked close at one point — although I don’t know what happened — is Sam Gagner, and I think L.A. has some interest in him.” Friedman recently said during a radio appearance on FAN 960 in Calgary. “I think there are a couple of moving parts there, including are the Oilers willing to take a key part of the salary to make that work from a cap point of view?
“But I do think the Kings have some legitimate interest in Gagner and I think those two teams have talked very seriously.”
Gagner would be a good fit in L.A. because he has the speed, playmaking ability and puck-possession skill the Kings lack down the middle. He also brings some valuable versatility with his ability to play on the wing. Veteran center Mike Richards is a great two-way player, but his offensive production (seven goals in 58 games) has been disappointing. Gagner has tallied 23 points (six goals, 17 assists) in 46 games, which isn’t great, but his Oilers linemates have been subpar and he’s playing on a young team that makes a ton of mistakes.
One stumbling block in acquiring Gagner is that Los Angeles has only $1.49 million of salary cap space, per Capgeek. The 24-year-old forward is in the first season of a three-year, $14.4 million contract that includes a $4.8 million cap hit and a no-movement clause for 2014-15.
Whether it’s Gagner or someone else, the Kings must target and acquire a skilled forward before the trade deadline if they are going to compete with the Chicago Blackhawks and Anaheim Ducks in the Western Conference playoffs.