Kings GM Rob Blake met with reporters on Friday to discuss quite a few things about the team with their rookie tournament and training camp on the horizon. Here is a listing of some of the things that were discussed (all Twitter links via LA Kings Insider’s Jon Rosen unless otherwise noted).
- 2017 first-round pick Gabriel Vilardi is progressing in his rehab but will not be on the ice at training camp. He played in just four games with AHL Ontario last season before being shut down due to recurring back injuries. Vilardi’s entry-level contract has slid the last two years but will now begin no matter what in 2019-20. Blake allowed for a small amount of optimism, stating that the center is “farther along in rehab than any part in last 12 months”.
- Blake acknowledged that they took a look at UFA defenseman Ben Hutton early on in free agency but downplayed the possibility that they will sign him. Rosen adds that the look wasn’t a particularly extensive one. Hutton remains one of the more intriguing UFAs left as he’s coming off a decent season with Vancouver that saw him collect 20 points in 69 games while averaging over 22 minutes a night. However, salary arbitration concerns resulted in the Canucks non-tendering him back in June.
- One defenseman that they do intend to sign is defenseman Cole Hults. He was a fifth-round pick (134th overall) of the team back in 2017 and is coming off a strong season at Penn State with 28 points in 39 games. Los Angeles will wait for him to complete his junior year though. They’ve shown a willingness to burn the first year of an entry-level deal quickly on college players in the past and Hults looks like a candidate for that to happen again.
- Winger Tyler Toffoli was in trade speculation at the deadline last season but ultimately stayed put. He’s now entering the final year of his contract which means contract extension talks can begin. Blake indicated (via Dennis Bernstein of The Fourth Period) that he’s in no rush to discuss a new deal with the 27-year-old, who had just 13 goals in 82 games last season and that he expects that the situation will work itself out later in the year.