The LA Kings have signed three players to NHL contracts, including:

  • Forward Taylor Ward, one-year, two-way contract worth an average annual value (AAV) of $775,000 through the 2024-25 season.
  • Defenseman Joe Hicketts, one-year, two-way contract worth an average annual value (AAV) of $775,000 through the 2024-25 season.
  • Forward Kaleb Lawrence, three-year, entry-level contract worth an average annual value (AAV) of $852,500 through the 2026-27 season.

Ward, 26, recently completed his second full season with the Ontario Reign, the Kings' primary affiliate in the American Hockey League (AHL), establishing career-highs in goals (11), assists (21) and points (32) in 71 games with a team-high plus-23 rating, the highest plus-minus rating to finish a season by a Reign player since Kurtis MacDermid (+24) in the 2015-16 campaign. Ward added two goals and five assists (2-5=7) with a plus-6 in eight Calder Cup Playoff appearances. 

The 6-2, 195-pound forward made his professional hockey debut with the Reign on March 20, 2022, against the Abbotsford Canucks following his senior season at the University of Nebraska-Omaha (NCHC) and has accumulated 68 points (23-45=68) in 158 career AHL outings with the Reign. Since joining the Reign, he’s been in the lineup for 158 of the team’s 160 games played, missing only a single game each of his last two full AHL seasons. 

Prior to turning pro, Ward spent four years with the University of Nebraska-Omaha (NCHC), appearing in 131 NCAA games and collecting 115 points (57-58=115), including a team-leading 19 goals and 39 points (19-20=39) in 38 games as a senior in 2021-22. Ward ranks sixth in program history in goals, 10th in points and tied for eighth in points-per-game (0.88, min. 50 games).

A native of Kelowna, B.C., he skated in parts of four seasons with the Penticton Vees of the British Columbia Hockey League (BCHL), collecting 77 points (36-41=77) in 162 games while helping the Vees capture the 2016-17 Fred Page Cup as BCHL Champions.


Hicketts, 28, appeared in 30 games with the Ontario Reign last season, notching 20 points (1-19=20) and added one goal and five assists (1-5=6) in eight Calder Cup Playoff games.

Signed by the Detroit Red Wings as an undrafted free agent on Sep. 24, 2014, Hicketts has skated in 22 career NHL games - all with Detroit - collecting five assists (0-5=5). The 5-8, 176-pound blueliner began his professional playing career with the Grand Rapids Griffins of the AHL and has earned 217 points (35-182=217) with 290 PIM and a plus-18 rating in 449 career AHL games split between Ontario, Iowa and Grand Rapids. 

In 39 career Calder Cup Playoff games, Hicketts has produced 18 points (2-16=18) and helped Grand Rapids to a Calder Cup Championship in 2017, where he contributed eight points (1-7=8) in 19 postseason contests.

Prior to turning pro, Hicketts played four seasons of junior hockey in the Western Hockey League (WHL), tallying 173 points (32-141=173) with 149 PIM and a plus-69 rating in 224 career games with the Victoria Royals. He earned WHL Western Conference First All-Star Team honors in 2016 and Second All-Star Team in 2015. Hicketts also skated in 31 WHL playoff games, collecting 15 points (1-14=15).

Internationally, the Kamloops, British Columbia native represented Canada at International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) events on three occasions, including two IIHF World Junior Championships (2016 - alternate captain, 2015 - gold) and one IIHF Under-18 Men's World Championship (2014 - bronze). In 19 contests, he posted 10 points (2-8=10).


Lawrence, 21, tallied 37 points (20-17=37) in 58 games split between the London Knights (10-9=19) and Ottawa 67’s (10-8=18) of the Ontario Hockey League (OHL) last season. The 6-7, 229-pound forward added nine points (5-4=9) and maintained a plus-7 rating through eight playoff appearances for London. The Knights, who are currently competing for the Memorial Cup, swept three of their four best-of-seven series in the process of capturing their fifth OHL Championship in franchise history.

A native of Ottawa, Ontario, Lawrence began his OHL career in 2019-20 with the Owen Sound Attack. Over 149 career OHL regular-season games split between Owen Sound (2019-23), Ottawa (2023-24) and London (2023-24), Lawrence has accumulated 82 points (41-41=82) with a plus-18 rating. His best junior season came in the 2022-23 campaign with Owen Sound where he notched  16 goals and 21 assists for 37 points in 50 games.

Lawrence was originally selected by the Kings in the seventh round (215th overall) of the 2022 NHL Draft.