Happy Saturday Insiders……we have a trade to announce.
The LA Kings have acquired a 2024 second-round draft pick from the Arizona Coyotes in exchange for defenseman Sean Durzi. The second-round selection is Montreal’s pick originally, acquired by the Coyotes back in 2021 as a part of the package exchanged for forward Christian Dvorak. The Kings recoup a second-round selection in next season’s draft, after they moved their own pick in the deal with Philadelphia earlier this month, which saw the Kings move goaltender Cal Petersen and defenseman Sean Walker to the Flyers. The Kings were previously down three picks in the 2024 draft, with their third-round selection included in the deal that acquired Vladislav Gavrikov and Joonas Korpisalo from Columbus and the fifth-round selection moved in exchange for forward Zack MacEwen. The Kings now have five selections in the 2024 NHL Draft as of this writing, including picks in each of the first two rounds.
The re-shaping of the LA Kings continues, as Durzi becomes the latest member of the 2022-23 roster to be moved out this offseason.
The premise of the deal feels pretty straightforward. The Kings solidified their Top 4 on the backend earlier this month when they re-signed defenseman Vladislav Gavrikov to a two-year contract extension, locking in each of their top two defensive pairs for the 2023-24 season. The Kings also have two, young, close to NHL-ready right-shot defensemen in Jordan Spence and Brandt Clarke. Entering the offseason, right-handed defensemen was the deepest position in the system. With Drew Doughty and Matt Roy under contract, RD1 and RD2 are stable with high-quality NHL talent and behind them were several players at or near NHL caliber. The Kings are also now a salary cap team and every dollar counts. Spence and Clarke both carry cap hits of less than $1 million this season and both appear ready, or at the very least deserving of the chance to prove they are ready, for more of a regular NHL role. When you take all of those factors into consideration, the move sends out a player who is a bit further along in his development, and as such makes more money, for a highly-valued draft pick in the second round, while opening up an opportunity for at least one of Spence or Clarke at the NHL level. It also recoups a draft asset for a team that has moved out five picks in the third round or higher in the 2022, 2023 and 2024 NHL Drafts……or provides another strong asset that could be used in another transaction.
On the other end of things, the Kings do lose a unique and talented player in Durzi. This isn’t a situation where the Kings did not like Sean Durzi. They certainly did, and he played down the stretch and into the postseason over others who were available, because the Kings valued a lot of things that he brought to the lineup. He is, however, in the same mold as both Spence and Clarke, as an offensively gifted, right-shot defenseman. The Kings believe in both Clarke and Spence and this move signals that they feel one of those players can fill the role Durzi vacated, which likely points to third-pairing minutes and second power-play duty, for half the space against the salary cap. That move frees up just shy of $1 million in salary cap space for the Kings, who still need to add a goaltender to the roster, with several RFA’s to sign.
Durzi wasn’t a perfect player – he had the propensity for a mistake that had the brightest of spotlights shined on it, but was also a dynamic puckmover who could create offense with his passing ability both at even strength and on the man advantage. He was also a high-character player who stood up for teammates and though not a big player, he tried to bring physicality into his game. A stat that puts Durzi’s game into perspective – on a per/60 basis in 5-on-5 play, he led all Kings defensemen in goals, assists, points and giveaways. Durzi is a good NHL player who can create offensively. He also had flaws in his game which led to goals against the other way.
From the team’s official release –
The LA Kings have traded defenseman Sean Durzi to the Arizona Coyotes in exchange for Montreal’s second-round pick in the 2024 NHL Draft.
Durzi, 24, finished the 2022-23 season with 38 points (9-29=38) in 72 games and one goal in six playoff games. The 6-0, 195-pound blueliner has skated in 136 career NHL games, registering 12 goals and 53 assists for 65 points and adding four points (2-2=4) in 13 playoff games. He also appeared in 91 career games for the Ontario Reign, the Kings’ primary American Hockey League (AHL) affiliate, where he posted 50 points (11-39=50).
Durzi was acquired by the Kings in 2019 along with forward Carl Grundstrom and a 2019 first-round pick (defenseman Tobias Bjornfot) in exchange for defenseman Jake Muzzin of the Toronto Maple Leafs. The Mississauga, Ontario native was originally picked by the Leafs in the second round (52nd overall) of the 2018 NHL Draft.