Mailbag: Answers, Part I - LA Kings Insider

INSIDERS. Thank you for these questions. I’m breaking this up into probably two or three tiers as to spread this over a few days. Without further dilly dallying, here are the answers to a number of questions that caught my attention. Lots more to come.

From Sean:
Is toffoli a victim of the team philosophy, loss of confidence, Or injuries taken it toll.
Is forbort better then we think?

LAKI: Regarding Toffoli, more A and B than C. Not aware of any injuries. He’s a bit of a conundrum, but there are also some metrics that should give fans encouragement towards future success. When I was on parental leave and had a real chance to watch games from a much better angle (on television) than what we get upstairs, I was really liking Toffoli’s game in mid-December. He appeared to have the classic symptoms of a player who was getting to the right spots and doing the right things but just wasn’t scoring. And then there were two or three more recent games where he was slow to getting to winnable pucks; one particular lost battle in the NBC-broadcast San Jose game prior to the Christmas break stands out. His game against St. Louis was one of his better games of the season – he was positioned well on the forecheck and was getting pucks towards high-danger areas. The analytics suggest a pretty perfect storm of someone who has simply been unlucky. He’s driving play to a strong degree, is generating individual scoring chances while boasting a strong on-ice scoring chance-for percentage and has seen a massive, anomalous drop in his five-on-five shooting percentage. The Kings’ offense is at a low tide, depressing wingers like Toffoli, who is part of a second unit that has not generated much power play success at all this season. Because he has only one power play point – he had a career-high 12 last season – he’s not able to compensate for the low production at even strength. If Toffoli is available – I don’t assume him to be as available as others on the Kings’ roster – and I was an opposing general manager in need of a right wing, I would be trying hard to acquire him.

As for Forbort, he’s been playing well. He’s not going to be a player who when playing well isn’t going to stand out in any real way apart from his ability to defend the rush pretty well against the opposition’s top players. Speaking with current players, they think he has the best stick on the team, which is useful in coverage and on the penalty kill. With the gravitation towards speed and skill and skating and away from heavy, brute, physical play, teams will need to have defenders capable of separating a smaller, more skilled player from the puck, and that aligns with Forbort’s package.

From Forum Gold:
My question would be if the organization has any numbers pertaining to how successful or unsuccessful the switch away from AM radio has been and can the fans do anything to let them know how we feel about this? I and many others have used this forum to voice our opinion. Thanks Jon.

LAKI: There has been a drop in radio listenership aligning with a team that is not in a playoff position and made the decision to swap terrestrial radio for online streaming. The team is aware that this decision to drop AM radio was not met with, let’s say, a parade to celebrate it. It’s a frequent conversation topic on this site and other LA Kings forums, and the team is aware of the dissent. If you have emails you’d like me to pass along to the right targets, I’d be happy to do so. Jonnyrosen-at-gmail.

From Kenneth Davila:
As of right now the Kings are only 8 points out of the last wild card. Are the Kings in a predicament with the veterans on the roster, given the 4 game win streak happened with 5 key veterans injured, is there any rumblings on trading some of those veterans to make space and recall those rookies that were part of that 4 game win streak and make a push with the core and youth for the playoffs?

LAKI: The Kings need to retool, recalibrate, recreate, whatever they want to call it. They’re going to be shedding assets and trying to acquire picks and prospects. There will be a number of veterans moved between now and through the NHL Draft this June. That the team found some success with veterans out doesn’t really move the needle here. There will be moves in which the slots previously belonging to veteran players will then be occupied by younger players and players whose roles were smaller and perhaps less defined in advance of the trades. Expect to see more of the players you’ve wanted to see more regularly – Wagner, Luff, Walker, LaDue, etc. Expect defenseman Matt Roy to get called up at some point before the end of the season.

From Wicked Deke:
The Kings hired analytics pioneer Rob Vollman in September 2018.
1. What level of influence is he having?
2. Did his laptop melt when he entered data for the Kings roster?

LAKI: Getting to know Rob has been a really nice perk in an otherwise difficult season for the team. He has a major level of influence. I can’t speak for individual decisions and whether or not he was able to weigh in on them, but he does bring an interesting way of thinking (you can purchase his books here) that the team might not have always given a ton of credence to earlier.

Rob has been close with Jeff Solomon, who does a good job communicating and soliciting information from those in the analytics community. Solly had communicated with other figures similar to Rob in the past, but the degree to which such data was used to influence team policy wasn’t always shared with blogger types. And as much as Darryl Sutter was known for getting his players to battle and play with the appropriate emotional investment, he was also provided binders and packets of data that to some degree influenced his decision-making. (As a former GM, he would absolutely use such analytics if it helped him build a case during arbitration battles.)

From Kevco Dad:
Best hotel? Best pregame meal arena ? Best bar?

Hotel: Hotel Georgia, Vancouver.
Pre-game meal: PNC Arena, Raleigh, North Carolina. Delicious pulled pork station.
Best Hotel Bar: The Confederation Lounge, Fairmont Hotel MacDonald, Edmonton
Best Bar: Timmy O’Toole’s, Chicago

From Ravens:
are you aware of anymore unsigned college players the Kings are scouting right now?

LAKI: Keep an eye on Bowling Green defenseman Alec Rauhauser – Kings have been following him, and Rob Blake recently visited his alma mater.

From DuckHunter32:
Do the Kings still have any interest in Prokhorkin after this KHL season? I know they have been hot and cold on this guy, but do they see any value in him joining the Kings at some point? or do they even see him as a bargaining chip that other teams could have interest in?

LAKI: There is significant interest in signing Nikolai Prokhorkin, whose contract ends after this season. He indicated in the fall that he would not be signing a new contract with SKA. Assistant General Manager Michael Futa has taken on several additional recruitment duties over the last two years; communicating and signing European-based free agents and team-controlled prospects is among them. He’s been back on the Prokhorkin trail. Prokhorkin, 25, has 19 goals and 34 points in 35 games amidst a wider role with Ilya Kovalchuk’s old club. The Kings will try hard to sign him; Prokhorkin is interested in certain assurances. He wants to play in the NHL, not the AHL.

From Neil:
Does Faust and/or Foxy read this blog?

LAKI: All broadcasters – home and visiting – read this blog, so that would include the broadcasters closest with the team. I don’t know if they follow some of the silliness in commenting, but absolutely, to help complement their own work and discussions and information, they absolutely read this, especially on game days when time is a little bit tighter and they’re also engaged in their own preparation that might, for example, keep them from paying attention to rushes or projected lineup changes.

Thank you for the questions, Insiders. More to come…