Viktor Arvidsson is the first big player to be traded in the 2021 NHL offseason. (John Russell/National Hockey League/Getty)

Viktor Arvidsson Traded To LA Kings For 2021 2nd, 2022 3rd

The Stanley Cup Final may still be going on, but the NHL’s offseason is already heating up. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins’ recent extension got the ball rolling and on Thursday, the Nashville Predators and Los Angeles Kings kept it rolling. The Predators traded forward Viktor Arvidsson to the Kings for the 40th pick in the 2021 draft and LA’s 2022 3rd round pick. Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman was the first to report the possibility of a deal.

Arvidsson turned in an excellent draft year, scoring 40 points in 50 games for Skellefteå AIK of the Swedish Hockey League (SHL) whilst playing against full-grown men, but he fell to the fourth round of the draft, likely due to his diminutive 5-foot-9-inch frame. It proved to be a mistake for the other 29 NHL teams to pass on him. Arvidsson turned in an excellent draft-plus-one season in the AHL in 2014-15. By the end of 2015-16, he was a full-time NHLer, and one year later, he was a key part of Nashville’s surprise run to the Stanley Cup Final.

2016-17 was Arvidsson’s breakout year. He finished tied for first on the team in goals (31) and points (61). He was tied for third in playoff scoring for Nashville with 13 points in 24 games despite his usual center Ryan Johansen going down to an injury in the middle of their run, and he was a true playoff spark-plug for the Predators, scoring big goals in both the 2016 and 2017 playoffs. Arvidsson was one of Nashville’s most skilled players, but he was also responsible enough defensively to average over a minute of short-handed ice-time per game, so GM David Poile rewarded him handsomely with a 7-year, $29.75 million deal, carrying a $4.25 million cap hit.

Years one and two of that deal were typical Arvidsson. He scored at roughly the same rate in both regular seasons and was once again tied for third in team playoff scoring in 2018. His goose egg in the 2019 playoffs aside, Arvidsson seemed to be more than worth the price tag. But in 2019-20, Arvidsson took a step back. He scored just 28 points in 57 games and his underlying numbers, usually stellar, fell to merely acceptable. Arvidsson finished with a Corsi above 53% or better in each of his first four NHL seasons and had an Expected Goals% of 52% or better in three of those years, but he was essentially a break-even play-driver in 2019-20, hoving around 50% in both metrics.

Arvidsson’s underlying numbers bounced back this year (52.98% Corsi, 52.78% xG), but his scoring touch did not. Arvidsson scored at exactly .5 points per game, registering 25 points in 50 contests, and he played in just two of Nashville’s six playoff games, failing to score a point in the team’s first-round exit at the hands of Carolina.

The Los Angeles Kings missed the playoffs by a healthy margin in 2021, but they certainly seem intent on taking a step forward in 2021-22. The club is blessed with an embarrassment of riches in their prospect pool and draft capital (they have an extra 2nd, 3rd, and 4th in this year’s draft). The club needs more offense; they finished 27th with 2.54 goals per game and 19th with an 18.9% power-play.

LA needs goal scorers, and Arvidsson has shown in the past he can light the lamp. He is only 28 years old, so his offensive dip over the last few years is likely not the result of age. Arvidsson is still a talented and skilled player and he could fit in well in Los Angeles, though his contract is a bit pricey ($4.5 million through 2024) if he fails to bounce back to his 2016-2019 level. Considering the fact that LA has over $15 million of cap space even after acquiring Arvidsson, however, the move is worth the risk. This is a solid deal for the Kings.

Yeah, I know they’re two games deep, but it’s not too late to check out our SCF preview, right?

As for Nashville, the trade is not bad news, either. Viktor Arvidsson had endeared himself to the Smashville fanbase, so it will sting to see him go, but the second and third round picks are a respectable return considering Arvidsson’s contract and the flat salary cap. Trading Arvidsson frees up a protection spot for Nashville in the upcoming Seattle expansion draft, allowing them to protect a forward they otherwise would have exposed. The Preds themselves now have a whopping near $23 million in cap space, so bringing in someone to replace Arvidsson’s production is certainly doable.

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Advanced Stats are 5-on-5, Score and Venue Adjusted, unless otherwise stated and are via Natural Stat Trick