We’ve got some Saturday morning extensions for you, Insiders!
The LA Kings have officially announced contract extensions with restricted free agent forwards Gabriel Vilardi and Jaret Anderson-Dolan, their first two selections in the 2017 NHL Draft.
Both deals are for one year. Vilardi’s is a one-way contract carrying an AAV of $825,000, while Anderson-Dolan’s is a two-way pact with a $750,000 AAV.
Instant Analysis – The Kings definitely intended on keeping both of these players and after issuing each a qualifying offer before the July 11 deadline, it was just a matter of agreeing on a number. Vilardi’s contract comes in at a slightly higher value, as he’s appeared in 89 NHL games over three seasons, while Anderson-Dolan, who only played seven contests with the Kings after 34 in 2020-21, was a staple with AHL-Ontario for most of the 2021-22 campaign. While both have showed they can play at the NHL level, neither has had a breakout offensive year in a Kings sweater. That will be the challenge for each heading into training camp in September, attempting to secure a spot on the roster for good among a crowded group of forwards.
Vilardi Season In Review – At the outset of the 2021-22 year, Vilardi looked poised to build off his prior season where he appeared in 54 games at the NHL level, occupying a center position. But while he did show some progress, he was sent to AHL-Ontario in November for a lengthy stint with the Reign. Vilardi was then recalled in March, after a rash of NHL injuries, and spent the rest of the season in the NHL, appearing in 18 additional games, as well as two in the postseason.
He returned to the Kings as a much more effective player, who earned his place in a couple of playoff games, down the stretch. After being sent down to work on his defense and play a role on the wing instead of down the middle, Vilardi’s 200-foot game improved, with better play on the wall and in the defensive zone, for which he was praised by the coaching staff. His offensive numbers with Ontario were excellent, scoring 38 points from 39 games (15-23=38), now his challenge will be to generate more offense at the highest level while continuing to show progress on the defensive side of the puck.
Anderson-Dolan Season In Review – While playing a majority of his year in the AHL, Anderson-Dolan was a top-6 forward for the Reign when he wasn’t jumping into a fill-in role with the Kings. The extra ice time in Ontario allowed him to work on his offensive game, and he became one of the team’s leading scorers, finishing with the third-most points on the club (47) while also ranking third in goal scoring (24). His final regular season offensive numbers were all career-highs.
Anderson-Dolan set his sights on becoming a more consistent offensive player and his hard work paid off, posting about a point per game for a large part of the year. Primarily as a middle-six center, his third full professional season saw him become a key factor on the Reign’s record-setting power play unit. Some of his biggest contributions came on the man-advantage, where he scored 12 goals and was a mainstay on the Reign’s top unit.
With a new deal on the books, Anderson-Dolan should once again be in a position to compete for a spot on the NHL roster. His season of all-around success at the AHL level proved that he has what it takes to be a pro, but the next step for him is showing the Kings that he can consistently produce against the top competition in the world. In 50 career NHL games, he has just 12 points (7-5=12).
What They Said –
Todd McLellan on Gabriel Vilardi –
I think Gabe has been much better defensively than he was last year, so he’s learned a new position and he’s responsible. The point production hasn’t quite been where we hoped it would be, but that’s okay, he’s been a lot more solid defensively. Maybe that’s because he has wing responsibilities, or he’s paid more attention to it, he’s worked at it, there’s so many reasons why it’s improved, and good for him. He was assigned that task and he’s done a pretty good job of it.
Chris Hajt on Jaret Anderson-Dolan –
JAD’s a true professional. He comes to the rink every day with an idea in mind of what he wants to do and how he wants to play and get better. He’s always in the gym, he’s taking care of his body and his conditioning and he eats well and does all the little things to allow him to be consistent. He’s been able to raise his game and he’s been consistent with it and that’s half the battle to playing at a high level for a long period of time. That gets you noticed that draws the attention of the Kings and you never know where that takes you.
From the team’s official release –
Vilardi, 22, played in 25 regular-season contests with the Kings this past season, recording seven points (5-2=7) before making his NHL postseason debut in the 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs. He also spent time this season with the Ontario Reign (AHL), where he registered 38 points (15-23=38) in 39 appearances.
Since making his professional debut with the Kings in 2020, the 6-4, 215-pound forward has collected 37 points (18-19=37) in 89 regular-season NHL contests. Additionally, he’s skated in 75 regular-season AHL games, tallying 64 points (24-40=64) and a plus-4 rating.
Anderson-Dolan, 22, made seven appearances with the Kings this season. He also played 54 games with the Ontario Reign (AHL), where he registered 47 points (24-23=47) and 24 goals, both of which ranked third among all Reign skaters.
A second round (41st overall) selection by the Kings in the 2017 NHL Draft, Anderson-Dolan has played parts of four seasons with the Kings, tallying 12 points (7-5=12) in 50 NHL contests. He has also skated in 112 games with the Reign, posting 77 points (32-45=77) in that span. In eight AHL Calder Cup playoff appearances, he has tallied one assist.
That locks up two of the four players that were issued qualifying offers earlier this month and leaves two still in need of new contracts, defensemen Mikey Anderson and Sean Durzi. We expect to hear more about the status of each as the offseason continues and we inch toward September’s training camp. Enjoy the rest of your weekend, Insiders!