Understanding of his role, Joel Edmundson is ready to “do the dirty work” for the Kings

Joel Edmundson understands his place on the ice.

“I do the dirty work,” he said, pointedly.

Edmundson isn’t going coast-to-coast. He’s not going to wow you with his offensive abilities or his point totals. He’s not going to try to. He takes pride in playing defense. In killing penalties. In making it difficult on the opposition to get to the front of the net and making them pay the price to do so.

Those are the areas he tries to deliver in his game.

Just ask Warren Foegele.

They were teammates in Carolina during the 2019-20 season and Foegele is looking forward to being teammates again with the Kings.

“Joel, he’s a beast, he’s a guy you definitely don’t want to play against,” Foegele said. “I think that goes to my point about LA being a team that is hard to play against and I think he fits that mold to a T. It’s hard going to the front of the net and it’s much harder going to the front when you have Eddy standing there cross-checking you and being hard to play against. Very excited that he’s on our team.”

Edmundson also takes pride in taking care of a younger defensive partner and helping that player feel comfortable and empowered to play their game. He understands that will be a part of his job with the Kings this season, with a pair of talented but inexperienced defensemen working their way in as NHL regulars.

With the Kings, Edmundson will likely be paired with either Jordan Spence or Brandt Clarke, however Jim Hiller ultimately decides to position his blueliners.

In speaking with Rob Blake about the decision to sign Edmundson, he pointed towards having an experienced, veteran to partner with both Clarke and Spence this season. He wanted those players to be “strong and heavy” on the left side and Edmundson fits that bill, with Vladislav Gavrikov likely to be partnered with one of those younger blueliners as well.

“I think that’s what I’ve done in Montreal the past few years,” Edmundson said of helping younger players. “I think I’m a great guy for the young guys, I just joke around with them, keep things light and with me being so defensive, it allows them to play their offensive game and jump up in the play knowing that I’m back there holding the fort down. I like how the d-core is looking.”

Photo by Mark Blinch/NHLI via Getty Images

Edmundson said he hasn’t had in-depth conversations yet about specific partners or his role, but it’s pretty clear it will be one of the two younger players. He’ll be a penalty killer as well, as he’s done throughout his career with a variety of different teams. With Toronto in the 2024 postseason, Edmundson led the Maple Leafs in shorthanded minutes.

When Edmundson was coming up as a younger player himself, with the St. Louis organization, he pointed to Kevin Shattenkirk as someone who provided that veteran presence for himself, though in a different way. It was Edmundson who was the younger player but in a shutdown role, though he complemented Shattenkirk nicely. He also pointed to Jay Bouwmeester and Alex Pietrangelo as defensemen in St. Louis who helped shape him as a leader and a mentor. Not a bad trio of defensemen to learn from.

“I had some great guys to look up to and I’ve carried that throughout my whole career,” Edmundson said. “I feel like that was my job in Montreal the last few years. I was there for those young guys and as they get a couple years under their belt, they kind of take over. I’m looking forward to being that leader, in that sense.”

That leadership is especially valuable in the postseason.

Edmundson has played in the Stanley Cup Final twice in the last six years, winning in 2019 with St. Louis and finishing second in 2021 with Montreal. When you get into the playoffs and things get off the rails, having players who have been there before provides a calming influence on the entire group. This summer, the Kings have added three of those players in Edmundson, Kuemper and Foegele, all of whom have played in the final over the last four seasons.

“Those playoff games can be very stressful or very nerve wracking and I think [younger players] can just look up to us and look at how calm we are,” Edmundson said. “This season, when I was in Toronto, we played Boston in Game 7 and I thought I was the most calm I’ve ever been in a situation like that, so that experience definitely helps. I think when the young guys can look up to you and see that you’re still joking around, having a good time, kind of keeping things light in serious moments, that’s when everyone elevates their game and plays their best, when they’re relaxed.”

Edmundson believes he is joining a strong leadership group in Los Angeles, but he’s not going to just rely on those guys. He wants to be a part of it himself and add his own leadership abilities into the mix. He wore an “A” in Montreal as an alternate captain and while he likely won’t with the Kings, you don’t need to wear a letter to lead.

With the Kings looking at working several younger players into the rotation this season, having a veteran team around them is important. Edmundson wants to be a part of that.

“Everyone in the league knows the leadership group is top notch, one of the best out there, so I’m excited to bring my leadership and join that crew,” he said. “I think the pieces [the Kings] have brought in over the offseason to make the team a little tougher, I think that goes a long way, especially in those those late months and into playoffs.”

Perhaps it’s that calming nature, that “been there before” mentality, the toughness that made him an appealing option for the Maple Leafs at the Trade Deadline. I suppose that also makes sense as to why Edmundson had his options this summer as an unrestricted free agent.

Darren Dreger had Boston, Utah and St. Louis as all bidding for his signature and there was competition at the NHL Trade Deadline back in March as well, when Edmundson went to Toronto for a pair of draft picks. Likely drove the price up a bit, whether it be term, AAV or both.

He’s the kind of player hockey teams seem to covet, with the Kings ultimately being his choice on July 1.

Edmundson pointed to a variety of different factors for ultimately choosing to sign in Los Angeles, despite interest elsewhere that resulted in late pushes from other teams to bring him in. He’s played with Phillip Danault and Darcy Kuemper before and said he texted Danault about the area and the organization. He said a lot of guys he’s played with over the years said good things about playing in Los Angeles and about the organization as a whole.

Ultimately, Edmundson landed with the Kings and will be a part of their revamped approach heading into next season. For a Jordan Spence or Brandt Clarke, they’ve got an experienced partner to play with and hopefully learn from. If it works as it’s intended to, those players should be more comfortable playing their style of hockey, more comfortable making mistakes and, hopefully, more productive offensively through those things.

Edmundson isn’t the sizzle in that equation, but the Kings hope he can be the steak.

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