Saturday, January 23, 2010

Storm Watch 2010 - Trade Winds Picking Up

The LA Kings have been downright maddening so far in 2010.

The problem has been known since last season - they need more offense.

Ryan Smyth may be back from injury, but he can't carry the top line by himself. Randy Jones may add some occasional offense, but he's usually a huge defensive liability. Alexander Frolov continues to...well, put it this way - he and Patrick Marleau will both be unrestricted free agents this summer. On guy currently leads the NHL with 35 goals and the other...well, continues to be Frolov.

The Kings need Frolov to put up those type of numbers, not be a solid two-way forward that chips in some goals only periodically. Wayne Simmonds has more goals right now than Frolov...and he's played three fewer games than Fro. That's unacceptable.

Much has been made about the team's restocking of the farm system over the last few years and their development of younger players. And while this isn't a knock on any individual player, the roster is filled with too many kids right now.

A trade for a top-six forward needs to be made now, not closer to the trade deadline. The points in the next 10 games are too valuable.

Take a look at how the Kings have been performing:

Last night's win came in the 50th game of the season. Breaking the season down into 10-game segments shows a rather consistent performance by the Kings:

1st 10 games = 12 points
2nd 10 games = 12 points
3rd 10 games = 13 points
4th 10 games = 10 points
5th 10 games = 12 points

Which leads us to the real question... Is that same level of performance (about 12 points in every 10 games) going to be enough? It could be, but probably not. Most other years it probably would be. However, this season continues to be filled with three point games by a lot of teams.

For the Kings, it's too risky a proposition to hold your breath and hope they have enough to reach the finish line.  The team has been largely hovering around the 8th seed all year. The time for a trade is now.

Yes, the Kings have been learning how to win. And they've been learning how to lose.

All the while, they've also been trying to raise their compete level (the trendy saying of the moment) and coach Terry Murray continues to preach his 'shot mentality.'

Yet, the bottom line remains, this version of the LA Kings is short on offense...and to win games they need more of it.

Here's a quick review of some of the names who might be available to help:

* Eric Belanger - solid, veteran center...other than Jarret Stoll, the Kings are terrible on faceoffs...he's an unrestricted free agent this summer, so could be a good rental player...when I asked somebody in the Kings organization about him recently they said 'He's been one of the best faceoff men in the league, he's still got a lot of speed'

* Raffi Torres - he certainly would follow the theme of the last few years, where LA picks up a guy who's had some recent injuries...all jokes aside, he plays wing - which is the most critical need for the Kings right now...he has 26 points in 49 games this season - more than Scott Parse, Brad Richardson and Teddy Purcell

* Ray Whitney - one of the better choices available...he's a proven top-six forward with a Stanley Cup ring...great character guy...rumor is, it would probably cost a second round's a complicated situation though because he has a no trade clause and reportedly loves playing in Carolina

* Tampa Bay Lightning - two years ago it was heavily rumored that the Kings were interested in Vincent Lecavalier - but, at this point, it just doesn't make sense with his big contract...the Lightning have three other players who might be better options, each with varying levels of probability when it comes to their availability - Martin St Louis (least likely, has a no trade clause), Ryan Malone (maybe) and Alex Tanguay (rumored to be available and would cost the least)...getting Tanguay would be interesting, as he was available last summer and Dean Lombardi passed on him

* Scott Hartnell - another player with a limited movement clause - however, this is the PERFECT guy for LA...some would complain that Dean Lombardi went after another former Flyer, yet that would be unfair criticism...Hartnell was drafted by and raised in the Nashville system...he plays on the top line in Philly and if you're going to move Frolov in a package, this is the type of guy you want in return

* Ilya Kovalchuk - of course, the Kings have been rumored to be in the sweepstakes for weeks...I just don't see it...Atlanta is going to want (and get) too much in return for a guy that will be unrestricted in, in the back of my mind I keep thinking about baseball (and we all know how much Lombardi loves baseball)...GMs there are often warned about taking the best pitcher on a bad team...I'd argue the same concern exists here with alternative from Atlanta might be Kozlov.

* Duck haters beware - two other possibilities include Teemu Selanne and Paul Kariya

To get something you have to give up something (or some things). Trading draft picks is fine. If the Kings can get what they need with that, great - it's just highly unlikely to be that 'inexpensive.' Trading Purcell isn't going to get you much in return either. They may need to use Frolov to fetch more than what a package of 'Purcell and picks' would yield.  However, would they really be better off swapping out his goals for those of somebody else? Not really - that sounds more like a replacement than an addition.

So, what's left? Prospects that still have high trade value.

Lombardi has commented that he probably waited to long to trade Brian Boyle. The Kings have several kids in the system that may still yield a high return. So, perhaps the time has come to part with some of the future. Thomas Hickey may have been the guy they wanted at that draft, but how many young defensemen can the Kings really work in over the next two to three years? They already have Drew Doughty and Jack Johnson playing in LA.  Having Hickey, Colten Tuebert and Viatcheslav Voynov in the system is at least one too many blueliners.
It's a good problem to have, for sure - but somebody has to go.

The future is now. As in right now, not in another month at the trade deadline. There are 32 games left as of this morning - a third of which will be played before the deadline on March 3rd.

Fans have been doing their part in LA, with several sellouts since Christmas.

Dean Lombardi, you're on the clock. What are you going to do next?

The Mayor


  1. No trade will make the team get to the playoffs.

    The only thing that will is if the team we have finding their confidence and learning to play consistent.

    If they don't figure that out and get a trade nothing will change. They'll still look to one guy to get them through a game. They'll still sit back and wait to see how a game devlops before deciding how hard they want to play. They'll still turn over the puck and get scored on in the resulting play. They still not make it no matter who is on the team.

    None of these suggestions really make much sense if you ask me. Dean wouldn't go after a guy via a trade he could have gotten via FA. That would be ridiculous. Especially, if it is ONLY in an attempt to make the playoffs.

    He has said many times over that he wants this current team to learn how to win. To learn how to face this adversity and step up their game without the aid of some big time all star sniper.

    He's done a pretty good job sticking to his game plan. Why would he rush to make a trade now with a month before the olympics start?

    The goal is not the playoffs.

    The goal is building a stanley cup team.

    Rushing to make a trade in order to just make the playoffs is the complete opposite of what Dean's history with the LA Kings has shown us.

    We are a playoff team already. It's just a mental issue making that a little hard to clearly see for some. Not a talent issue.

  2. I don't think the Kings need to bring in an overrated one dimensional star that may mess up their future cap space. But adding a solid playoff veteran could make a big difference.