nhl

Kings begin another offseason after loss to Oilers

The Kings were eliminated by the Oilers yet again, and will look to fix their glaring issues while also navigating the salary cap.

LOS ANGELES — The Los Angeles Kings made the playoffs for the third year in a row — and were eliminated by the Edmonton Oilers for the third year in a row. Likely the greatest Oilers squad that has been seen since the Gretzky era, the Kings were doomed for failure in the 5 game series.

Since then, the Oilers knocked off their Canadian rival Vancouver Canucks during a 7 game series, and now look to fight the talented Dallas Stars.

Although it was a rather quick series, Los Angeles did show some signs of life. Going into the series the game plan was rather obvious: slow down the speed of Edmonton.

Game 1 was a very poor example of this, as the Oilers overpowered the Kings in every aspect of the game. Connor McDavid had 5 assists, Zach Hyman had a hat trick, and Evan Bouchard had 4 assists. The 7-4 loss made everyone question if the Oilers were that good or if the Kings were that bad.

Game 2 included an overtime win for LA which proved they could hang with their Canadian foe, and that Edmonton was indeed that good. The Kings were able to halt the strong force of Connor McDavid and Zach Hyman who each went pointless during the second battle. The victory also showed the grit of the Kings, who bounced back very well after a devastating 7-4 loss.

Game 3 was an absolute mess. Bad penalties killed Los Angeles as Edmonton was able to cash in on three power play opportunities leading them to an easy 6-1 win. The third period of the game resembled more of a boxing match than a hockey game. With 22 different penalties given in the frame, it included everything from line brawls to slashes which helped set the stage for an important game four.

Game 4 saw the Kings play their best game possibly of the whole year and yet lost 1-0. Out shot 13-33 and out hit 27-44, the Oilers somehow were able to squeak their way through a game that they should not have won. LA was able to stick to their gameplan of slowing the opposition down, but were ultimately beaten by a power play goal by Evan Bouchard.

Game 5 saw the Oilers finish the job in Canada and send the Kings back to Los Angeles for the third year in a row.

Overall, the Kings had a rough go yet again during round one of the playoffs. They were matched up against a team that historically has had their number in the playoffs (18-36), as well as playing a team that directly counters their strengths.

While the Kings tried to use their physical style of play and depth to their advantage, the Oilers used their speed and star studded talent to counteract any chance that LA had.

It can be debated on whether or not the Kings would have done better against any of the other teams. The Stars and Golden Knights play a very similar game to each other, and would likely send the Kings home in a very similar time frame. Nevertheless, the Kings definitely drew the short straw on having to play one of the quickest teams in the NHL during the first round.

As for the future of the team, Los Angeles has taken some steps recently to hopefully make it past the first round next year.

On Wednesday, it was announced that Jim Hiller has officially taken a multiyear contract as head coach. Acting as the interim coach last season, he was able to lead the Kings to a strong finish (21-12-1) after Todd McLellan was relieved from his duties.

The looming issue for the Kings is what will happen with their veterans. Fading from their prime but still playing well, Anze Kopitar and Drew Doughty are nearing the end of their career.

Kopitar will be signed through the 2025-26 season where he will be turning 39 years of age. Doughty will hang around for a year longer, signed through 2026-27 before he turns 38.

With salary cap issues, there isn’t all that much that the Kings can do to add star power. Since they did go out early in the playoffs, they do have a draft pick in the middle of round one and have to hope that they get lucky on a star that can facilitate offense as well as adding speed to the lineup.

The other issue for the Kings is that David Rittich will be the only goalie signed on the team next year. There are certainly some names in free agency that the Kings will be looking at, however with the lack of Stanley Cup potential it is unlikely that any solid goaltender would choose the Kings over returning to their home team.

Los Angeles is in major trouble, and everything is pointing toward a rebuild within the next five years. The big key for them will be praying that players take a risk on a middle of the road franchise that is riding the line of success and failure.