Wild West: General Manager Ratings – Los Angeles
In part eight of our look at the Western Conference GMs, we will look at Rob Blake in Los Angeles who served as Assistant General Manager for the Kings for just under four years, before being named the GM of the team at the end of the 2016-17 season.
5: below average
7: above average
8: top ten
Overall ratings are based only on the average of the four categories we look at, and the biggest takeaway should be how each GM compares/ranks to the others.
Bob Murray – Anaheim: 7.85
John Chayka – Arizona: 6.62
Brad Treliving – Calgary: 7.5
Stan Bowman – Chicago: 7.6
Joe Sakic – Colorado: 7.55
Jim Nill – Dallas: 7.225
Ken Holland – Edmonton: 6.925 (post 2009)
Los Angeles Kings
GM – Rob Blake, hired April 10th, 2017
First category, winning:
Regular season record: 105W 106 L 15 OTL 8 SOL: 0.496 Win %
Best result and playoffs: The Kings made the playoffs in Blake's first season as GM in 2017-18 and lost in the first round. The team missed the playoffs in 2018-19 and will be on the outside looking in this season as well.
Blake inherited an aging team with most of the core players around the age of 30 and has Anze Kopitar (32), Dustin Brown (35), Jeff Carter (35) and Jonathan Quick (34) all committed till at least the end of 2021-22 at a combined cost of just under $27 million in cap space per season. Not to get ahead of ourselves but Blake contributed to this by re-signing Drew Doughty to an eight year deal with an $11 million AAV that only began in 2018-19. Yikes.
The Kings are on their third coach in three years under Rob Blake and are currently under the command of Todd McLellan.
Winning rating: 5.9
With only three years of drafting and only 23 picks it is a little difficult to gauge the success of the drafts headed up by Blake since 2017, but he has improved the depth of the prospect pool. He has raised the quality to the point where the Kings are considered by many to have to have one of the best prospect pools in the NHL.
There was some real concern that Gabriel Vilardi, the first pick in 2017 for this regime, might not get past his lingering back issues enough to play effectively again if play at all. Vilardi missed a season and a half, but was able to return and played well in 32 games in the AHL and another 10 games with the Kings this season. I'm sure there is big relief from both the player and the club as it appears that Vilardi is an NHL player to stay.
Other possible adds from the 2017 draft are center Jaret Anderson-Dolan from the 2nd round , goalie Matthew Willalta from the 3rd round, defenseman Mikey Anderson from the 4th round and defenseman Cole Hults from the 5th round. All of these players have potential high ceilings.
Intriguing prospects from the 2018 draft are forward Rasmus Kupari, picked 20th overall in the 1st round, forward Akil Thomas picked 51st overall in the 2nd round, forward Aiden Dudas picked 113th overall in the 4th round and forward Johan Sodergran picked 165th overall in the 6th round. Akil Thomas might be diamond for LA in this draft.
In the 2019 draft, Blake and the Kings had two picks in the 1st round and two picks in the 2nd round and ended up with the 5th overall pick after the draft lottery. They chose center Alex Turcotte at 5th overall and defenseman Tobias Bjornfot at 22nd overall. With the 33rd overall pick in the 2nd round they chose Arthur Kaliyev who was coming off a 50-goal campaign in the OHL after 2018-19 and backed it up with 44 goals in 57 games this season. With the 50th overall pick in the 2nd round the team chose Samuel Fagemo who had a great performance in the World Juniors in 2020 with Sweden. They also chose a goalie with the 87th overall pick in the 3rd round, Lukas Parik (played for Spokane in the WHL this season) followed by Jordan Spence a smaller offensively gifted defenseman at 95th overall in the 4th round. This draft year has the makings for a very successful draft class for the Kings.
Drafting score: 8.3
Trades made: 24
February 21st, 2018 – sent Darcy Kuemper for Tobias Rieder and Scott Wedgewood. I'm not sure Blake knew what he had in Kuemper as the team is committed to Jonathan Quick and the return of Rieder and Wedgewood provided the Kings with very little. To be fair, Quick was having a very good season when this deal was made, but that doesn't help the Kings now unfortunately.
November 14th, 2018 – sent Tanner Pearson for Carl Hagelin. On the surface this looked like a deal for two struggling players to find their games on their new teams. It didn't work out for either team, although Pearson did notch 21 goals in 69 games this season for Vancouver.
January 24th, 2019 – sent Dominik Kubalik for a 5th round 138th overall pick in 2019 (Frederik Nissen Dichow). Perhaps Kubalik had made it very clear that he wouldn't play in Los Angeles, or the Kings just had no clue what they had? 30 goal rookies don't come along very often.
January 28th, 2019 – sent Jake Muzzin for Carl Grundstrom, Sean Durzi and a 1st round 22nd overall pick in 2019 (Tobias Bjornfot). The Kings had control of Muzzin for one more season after this trade, but tried to cash in on his value. The result is mixed, but with potential as Grundstrom had people excited in his 15 games with Los Angeles after the deal, when he scored five goals. He struggled this season and split time between the AHL and NHL. Both Durzi and Bjornfot have limited upside as NHL defensemen, but both could become regulars.
February 21st, 2019 – sent Carl Hagelin for a 3rd round 87th overall pick in 2019 (Lukas Parik) and a 6th round pick in 2020. Middling return for a player that they hoped would re-ignite when they acquired him, but it wasn't to be.
June 22nd, 2019 – sent a 3rd round 64th overall pick (Mattias Norlinder) and a 5th round 126th overall pick both in 2019 (Jacob LeGuerrier) for a 2nd round 50th overall pick in 2019 (Samuel Fagemo). This is a pretty reasonable price to move up 14 spots and get a player you had targeted.
February 17th, 2020 – sent Tyler Toffoli for Tim Schaller, Tyler Madden, a 2nd round pick in 2020 and a conditional 4th round pick in 2022 if Toffoli re-signs in Vancouver. Toffoli in an impending UFA so the Kings did well here to get Tyler Madden who had a great season at Northeastern and a 2nd round pick in 2020.
February 19th, 2020 – sent Alec Martinez for a 2nd round pick in 2020 and a 2nd round pick in 2021. The return on this trade will depend entirely what they end up doing with the picks and how well those turn out. I thought Martinez might fetch a 1st round pick, but the market prices decreased this year for rentals.
Trade score: 7.3 and trending up
Blake has signed 76 players to just over $276 million in contract value.
The Kings have bought out two players under Blake, but not signed by him, Dion Phaneuf and Matt Greene for a combined $10 million. Phanuef will cost the team $4.062 million in cap space next season and just over one million in each of the two years after that. The Kings also have $7.82 million in cap space for terminated contracts and recapture penalties this season and $6.95 million next season for Ilya Kovalchuk and Mike Richards (on the books until 2025-26).
Rob Blake has limited his big contracts for the most part but did sign Ilya Kovalchuk as an unrestricted free agent on a three year deal at $6.25 million AAV in 2018. The team and player terminated the contract after one season.
The biggest misstep for Blake was extending Drew Doughty at the age of 29 to an eight year deal at $11 million AAV that will expire when he is 37 years old. Doughty has been good, if not great at times in his career so far, but his past two seasons are cause for concern that he is slipping more often to pretty good more times than good and the great moments are fewer and fewer. The Kings do have a lot of cap space moving forward, but it is hard not to think they will regret this contract in two or three years, if they aren't already.
Signings score: 6.6
The Kings have one of the most coveted prospect pools in the NHL and if Blake is patient, this team should be competitive again in two or three seasons. His score should only go up.
Overall score: 7.025
We will be skipping Minnesota and going right to David Poile in Nashville next week, as Bill Guerin has been on the job for less than a year and his scorecard is still incomplete.
As always, thanks very much for reading and if you have any comments or suggestion please let me know below or follow me on Twitter @gampbler15.
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