Tanner Pearson’s Emergence Provides Los Angeles Kings with Critical Depth

The points haven’t come yet for Los Angeles Kings rookie Tanner Pearson, but if he keeps up his recent play, the left winger could solidify his spot on a Western Conference contender.

In his first stint with the club, the 21-year-old appeared flustered by the tempo of the professional game, continually lagging one step behind.

Since the Olympic break, however, Pearson has honed in on his most striking attribute: raw speed. Pairing it with impressive tenacity, the rookie is performing with supreme confidence at the moment, flying up and down the ice to torment the opposition.

Despite a meager total of two points in 17 contests to this point in the season, his latest call-up has yielded such positive results that he landed on the second line alongside Jeff Carter and Tyler Toffoli against Florida on Saturday. In spite of subpar outings by his linemates, he was one of the best forwards on the ice.

Though the Panthers aren’t a playoff squad, Pearson nonetheless displayed game-breaking acceleration and a tireless hunger for the puck.

Early in the third period, he stopped on a dime behind Florida’s net, losing two defenders before feeding Carter in the slot with a cagey pass.

While the play unfortunately didn’t lead to a goal, it demonstrated the considerable upside of Pearson’s game.

Beyond the eye test, advanced metrics back up his surge in play over the past couple of weeks.

In his nine games prior to the Olympics, Pearson’s individual Corsi percentage stood at 47.3. In his eight games since then, his percentage has leapt to 63.3. The dramatic turn has shifted his line’s stance from weathering the storm to unleashing it upon the opposition in a matter of weeks.

Possession was among his most glaring weaknesses early in the year—especially on a Kings team that leads the league in Corsi percentage. No...

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