The Kings have agreed to one-year contract extensions with forwards Gabriel Vilardi and Jaret Anderson-Dolan, the team announced Saturday.
Vilardi’s contract carries an annual average value of $825,000 on a one-way deal, while Anderson-Dolan could earn up to $750,000 next season on his two-way contract.
Both players were 2017 draftees who were lauded as strong value for their respective draft positions, with Vilardi going 11th overall and Anderson-Dolan being selected at No. 41. Vilardi had just capped off his junior career with a Memorial Cup victory. However, he then lost significant development time to back issues.
Both players took a step back in terms of prominence between the truncated 2021 campaign and last season.
Vilardi was the Kings’ No. 2 center for much of 2021, when he posted 23 points in 54 contests during the 56-game season. In 2021-22, that role was filled by Phillip Danault while Vilardi dressed for just 25 of 82 outings, notching seven points in the process. Vilardi was converted to the wing in the American Hockey League, where he racked up 38 points in 39 games last season.
Anderson-Dolan had 11 points in 34 games in 2021, showing promise as a versatile, energetic forward before sustaining an injury that quelled his momentum. Last season, he was held scoreless in just seven games at the top level, though his 47 points in 54 games in the AHL demonstrated a step forward offensively.
Vilardi and Anderson-Dolan have represented Canada in international play, most notably when both were part of the gold-medal winning squad at the 2021 World Championships. Anderson-Dolan served as an alternate captain for Canada at the 2019 World Juniors, and he was identified by multiple scouts as a player who could wear a letter in the NHL one day.
With these two signings, the Kings are crouching to avoid the salary cap ceiling, as CapFriendly now projects them to have $1.5 million in available cap space.
They still need to sign two restricted free-agent defensemen: 2017 draftee Mikey Anderson, who has lent his shutdown acumen to the top pairing with Drew Doughty, and the offensively gifted Sean Durzi, who emerged during Doughty’s absence due to injury last season.
That could prompt a trade to accommodate the salaries of both blue-liners, particularly if the Kings are looking to sign Anderson, Durzi or both to a pact with any significant term and/or give themselves wiggle room to add prorated cap hits near the trade deadline.
Even so, the Kings appear to be nearing the completion of their moves for the offseason, with few if any significant departures.
Defensemen Olli Maatta and Troy Stecher figure to be replaced by the returns of Doughty and Sean Walker from long-term injuries. Winger Andreas Athanasiou’s on-and-off play and presence could fade from memory quickly if headline acquisition Kevin Fiala proves to be as advertised.
In sum, the Kings not only kept the band together, they added a major piece over the summer, with their forward depth now coming into sharper focus.