Viktor! Notes on Arvidsson’s return to full group at today’s practice, which creates “options” for the Kings

Well hello there, Viktor!

The LA Kings welcomed a familiar face back to practice this morning, with Viktor Arvidsson joining the Kings for their full-team practice day in El Segundo.

Arvidsson’s presence was not at all surprising, when looking at how his timeline has progressed here over the last couple of weeks. Following the trade deadline, General Manager Rob Blake indicated that Arvidsson’s timetable seemed to generally line up with the minimum number of time spent on LTIR, which came this past weekend.

Arvidsson has been skating on his own now for over a week. He began in a red, non-contact jersey towards the end of the Kings’ recent five-game homestand, eventually progressing into a gray jersey this past week, though he had only skated on his own until today.

“He’s really close,” Jim Hiller said this morning. “He doesn’t like to practice in a red jersey, I don’t know why, but usually, when you come back and you have your first practice in a long time with the team, you’re almost always in red, so it just might be a situation where we didn’t want to put him in that color, but he is close. He is close.”

Arvidsson did not join the Kings on their three-game trip to the Midwest, with the rationale being that the Kings didn’t hold a practice day on the road. They felt it would be more beneficial for Arvidsson to stay back in Los Angeles, continue working on his own, and now seeing him re-join the team here this afternoon was not surprising. Had the schedule aligned a bit differently, perhaps he might have even practiced with the group sooner and taken the trip with the team, even if he wasn’t quite ready to play, but what’s important is that he’s right on schedule, which is a great sign for he and the Kings, who have yet to lose when Arvidsson dresses this season.

As of this writing, Arvidsson is still on LTIR and he would need to be activated in order to play in a game. He can practice freely while on LTIR. Naturally, that activation has yet to happen. The Kings currently sit at 12 forwards, seven defensemen and two goaltenders on their active roster, with Arvidsson, forward Carl Grundstrom and goaltender Pheonix Copley currently on LTIR. Grundstrom and Copley combine for $2.8 million in LTIR room to operate above the cap, which gives the team some flexibility around the salary cap in the interim, though Grundstrom is expected to return this season. His timetable was a “week or two” behind Arvidsson’s, meaning we’re probably looking more towards the end of the month until we have that conversation. When we learn ,if and when, the Kings will eventually look to activate Arvidsson back to the active roster, it’s something to keep an eye on.

For today, the Kings chose to deploy Arvidsson in a new spot for him, on a line Alex Turcotte and Trevor Lewis. The team aligned as follows this morning –

Byfield – Kopitar – Kempe
Moore – Danault – Fiala
Lizotte – Dubois – Laferriere
Lewis – Turcotte – Arvidsson

Anderson – Doughty
Gavrikov – Roy
Englund – Spence

Rittich / Talbot

The Kings haven’t been shy to move pieces around under Jim Hiller’s leadership.

The ultimate plan for the team we’ll expect to see down the stretch always included Arvidsson in it. He’s a de-facto deadline addition for a team that did not make a single move at the trade deadline, large in part due to salary constraints. Today gave us our first look on what that team looks like with Arvidsson back in the fold. There were – and still are – a number of options at Hiller’s disposal, and that’s how Hiller sees it.

“I don’t look at it as a challenge at all, I look at it as options, you know what I mean,” Hiller said. “You have good, healthy players like the ones you mentioned in your lineup, it just gives you more options to think about okay, who with who, why, who complements. Maybe a mental challenge I guess, but you’re happy about that and we’ll figure that out. We know that Phil, Mooresy and Arvy have played together a lot and played very well themselves too, so we’ll sort through that but it will be a good problem to have.”

What’s interesting is, the option we saw today, is one that I’m guessing none of us thought of. Naturally, it might not be the long-term answer.

We all know about Arvidsson’s chemistry with Trevor Moore and Phillip Danault, a line that we’ve seen a ton of over the last few seasons. Kevin Fiala has also been a nice fit there, though, so you could definitely make the argument either way on how that line should be approached.

While the sample size was extremely small, Arvidsson was also a terrific fit alongside Anze Kopitar and Adrian Kempe during Game 6 of the 2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs. Youdon’t make long-term decisions off of short-term sample sizes, but as the Kings shuffled their forward lines around between Games 5 and 6, in search of a better performance, we saw Arvidsson moved onto that line for the first time all season. While the game result was not as intended, the metrics delivered were excellent.

Shot Attempts – 23 For, 6 Against
Scoring Chances – 15 For, 5 Against
High-Danger Chances – 7 For, 2 Against

There’s also the interesting option of how Arvidsson could potentially click with Pierre-Luc Dubois. Regardless of where Arvidsson slots in, the Kings will add a scorer onto Dubois’ wing. He’s had a wide array of linemates this season and Arvidsson plays a crafty, calculated game offensively. Dubois is a thinker as well and perhaps the two could mesh, with the energetic and impactful Alex Laferriere as the third member.

For today, however, the Kings chose Door Number 4 on Arvidsson’s first day back with the group. Arvidsson took rushes alongside Trevor Lewis and Alex Turcotte on what lined up as the fourth line today. Arvidsson did not take power-play rushes today, either, and he’s certainly a member of that unit when he’s healthy and ready to go. So, he’s close, but perhaps not just there, just yet.

As Hiller has shown, though, the lines today aren’t necessarily the lines tomorrow or going forward. As the Kings continue to push towards the playoffs, there’s certainly a hope that adding in Arvidsson can help them to find the ideal alignment in the Top 9, as he gets back to full speed.

When he is back, the Kings definitely want to have him a 100 percent and they plan to rely on him as an important member of the team.

“I forget what the exact minutes were he played [after] he was off earlier this year, but it was 17-plus,” Hiller added. “He’s a really important player……the determination, the will to win, the desperation you see it in Viktor Arvidsson. When he’s on the bench, despite having not played because of injury, it’s hard not to put him on the ice, so that’s something I’ve got to maybe be a little bit careful with, I talked to him about it. When he gets in there, he’s going to be 100 percent and when he’s 100 percent, he plays.”

Arvidsson is a guy who will be pushing to go as soon as he can. That’s just the type of player and competitor he is. The Kings will make sure he’s at full go before they bring him back. A situation to monitor, day-by-day, as the week rolls on.

Full practice day today, which points towards a sparsely attended skate tomorrow, as we’ve seen under Hiller. More to come over the next couple days, both on and off the ice, in terms of Kings content.

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