Kings sign Carl Grundstrom to two-year extension ($1,300,000 AAV) and Lias Andersson to one-year extension ($750,000 AAV)

Happy Monday, Insiders!

The Kings have agreed to terms with two pending restricted free agents in advance of today’s qualifying offer deadline, which is scheduled for 2 PM. The Kings have re-signed forward Carl Grundstrom to a two-year contract extension and forward Lias Andersson to a one-year contract extension. Grundstrom’s contract carries an AAV of $1.3 million at the NHL level, while Andersson’s deal carries an AAV of $750,000 at the NHL level.

Instant Analysis – Both players entered the 2021-22 season with a prove-it mentality. Both saw regular action during the COVID-shortened, 2020-21 season, but neither cemented themselves as an every game fixture in the lineup. Andersson won a job during training camp back in the fall, on the third line, and was the earliest example of the team’s new, aggressive style of forechecking, before an injury during the preseason derailed his start, with injuries taking much of his season. Grundstrom started the season as an extra forward, and was in and out despite stretches of productivity, before breaking out in the playoffs with three goals against Edmonton. With their roles now reversed, Grundstrom looks to cement an every-night role as he enters camp, carrying some of the on-ice traits left by the departing Dustin Brown, while Andersson will look to take his position back. The contracts signed reflect those roles and situations, with both players capable of outperforming their deals.

Grundstrom Season In Review – While Grundstrom found himself in and out of the lineup at times during the regular season, he found a consistent home in the playoffs due to an injury to Viktor Arvidsson and scored four points including three goals in six games against Edmonton, all of which came in the final four contests.

“He has and he will continue to [grow into the player the Kings want him to],” Kings Head Coach Todd McLellan said. “When it comes to Grunny, more than one individual thought that he was the most improved player, just in our short meetings.”

While his raw numbers during the regular season weren’t jaw-dropping – nine goals and 15 points – Grundstrom ranked fifth on the Kings in goals per/60 (0.85). Grundstrom also led the Kings in hits/60 and was on the ice for fewer goals against per/60 than any other Kings forward. Goal scoring, physical play and defensively responsibility were three evident traits of Grundstrom’s season, traits that even Dustin Brown let us know in his season-ending interview that reminded him a bit of himself in some ways. Not a bad comparison to have. Grundstrom’s play also earned him the opportunity to represent Team Sweden at the 2022 IIHF World Championships where he posted two points from five games in a situation where he joined up with the team midway through the tournament and jumped right into action. A nice end-of-season reward for a player who saw his output crescendo as the campaign went along.

Photo by Harry How/Getty Images

Andersson Season In Review – Lias Andersson was perhaps the most noticeable forechecker during exhibition games, as he embodied the structure and style that the Kings had preached verbally during training camp. Andersson had earned a spot on the opening night roster, on the third line with Gabe Vilardi and Vladimir Tkachev, but saw that opportunity taken away due to injury. Andersson returned to action for three games in late-October and early-November, before he saw his injury flare up again. By the time he was healthy, the season was two months deep and everyday game time was a competition as others had cemented roles.

Andersson saw action in ten games between November 24 and January 8, but suffered another injury, which cost him nearly two months of game action. With limited game time down the stretch, consistency was hard to come by for Andersson. Injury prevented him from truly finding a routine and once he was finally healthy, the spot he won during training camp had been filled by others who stepped up. Andersson was a high-event player when in the lineup, ranking towards the top of the list in chances against and in the middle to upper-middle in terms of chances for. He had the lowest PDO amongst players with 20 or more games played, accounting for some of the drastic skew between goals for/against and expected. A season in many ways that left you wondering what could have been had much of it not been impacted by injuries.

Grundstrom and Andersson join Adrian Kempe in a contingent of Swedish forwards signed over the last 24 hours. There’s probably a better name for that, isn’t there? Assuming you place both Grundstrom and Andersson’s contracts at the NHL level, the Kings have $4,438,333 in cap space remaining. That number accounts for 13 forwards, six defensemen and two goaltenders, with several who played NHL games this past season still unaccounted for, therefore adding a player in also means taking a player out, resulting in additional cap space.

The deadline for qualifying restricted free agents is today at 2 PM, with the Kings expected to make another announcement later in the day. The seven players up for a qualifying offer are Mikey Anderson, Jaret Anderson-Dolan, Sean Durzi, Brendan Lemieux, Johan Sodergran, Vladimir Tkachev and Gabriel Vilardi. Players like Anderson and Durzi are locks for a QO, while a player like Tkachev has already signed in Russia, signaling that he will not return. Full information to follow, as we run parallel paths this week between the immediate future of the NHL team with free agency and the long-term future currently on the ice with development camp.

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