Los Angeles Kings Make Intriguing Move With Tobias Rieder Trade

Tobias Rieder
SAN JOSE, CA - JANUARY 13: Tobias Rieder #8 of the Arizona Coyotes skates against the San Jose Sharks at SAP Center on January 13, 2018 in San Jose, California. (Photo by Rocky W. Widner/NHL/Getty Images)

The Los Angeles Kings acquisition of Tobias Rieder and Scott Wedgewood from the Arizona Coyotes for Darcy Kuemper brings with it some interesting implications for the Kings going forward.

It’s understandable if this deal strikes some Kings fans with apprehension. Jonathan Quick has been shaky in net for the past couple months, and Kuemper has played so well when called upon. It’s unclear how much the Kings could rely upon a backup now if Quick ever struggled or got injured.

After missing so much of last season with an injury, durability questions are naturally going to loom for Quick.

Adding Rieder to the Offense

In terms of helping the Kings in a playoff push for this season, it really comes down to whether adding Rieder to their group of forwards offers a greater impact than the loss of a dependable backup goaltender.

Rieder had 19 points in 58 games for the Coyotes before being traded. He can play on the penalty kill and typically provides 30-35 points over the course of a season. He’s due to become a restricted free agent at the end of this regular season.

He can certainly help their offence during this stretch run. His 16 goals last season would have tied him for 3rd on the 2016-17 Kings squad. The Kings rank 18th in the NHL this season in goals per game this year, so anybody who can light the lamp at a decent rate is a welcome addition.

With the recent activation of Jeff Carter from the injured list, the Kings will be getting boosts to their offensive production aside from just the Rieder addition.

Quick is the Key

Essentially the merit of this trade from the Kings perspective is going to rely on how well Quick plays down the stretch. If he plays like he’s proven capable of over the course of his career, it’s not going to make a huge difference who gets the occasional start in his place over the remaining 20 games this season.

Kuemper was set to become an unrestricted free agent at the end of this season but instead signed a two-year extension with the Coyotes after the trade was completed. He is being paid $650,000 this season, but that salary will now go up to $1.6 million for 2018-19 and $2.1 million for 2019-20.

Kuemper was going to be out of the Kings price range for a backup goaltender after his contract expired. He has played great this year, and losing that type of dependability in a backup goaltender is understandably risky. But after careful consideration, the trade makes a lot of sense.

Quick is an elite goaltender when he’s at the top of his game. The Kings are going to ride him as much as they can for this stretch run.

They probably would not have made this trade if they didn’t have faith in Quick to carry them to the playoffs.

Rieder is a speedy forward who will help a unit that far too often seems to struggle to generate enough offence.

Quick would be playing the vast majority of regular season games from here on out. Kuemper might have played in only four or five more games.

Quick elevates his performance in meaningful moments, and he has earned the benefit of the doubt despite his inconsistencies this year.

The Rieder acquisition improves forward depth at the price of making the few games Quick doesn’t start the rest of the regular season a little more apprehensive.

If Quick plays like the star he is from here on out, this trade will be worth it because Rieder is another piece who can help this offence.

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