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The last time the Kings went looking for help on the left side it took almost the whole summer to figure out that Ilya Kovalchuk would be staying in New Jersey.
Fortunately, this time around, it only took around 10 days to officially announce Marco Sturm had been traded to Los Angeles.
While it may still be another week or so until he sees game action (more on that in a minute), now’s as good a time as any to get to know the newest King.
We’ll get you started with 10 Tidbits on Marco Sturm…
1. He was born in Dingolfing, Germany – home of the world’s largest BMW plant. Several other German players have made the NHL too, most were goaltenders (Olaf Kolzig being the most famous) or are currently playing for the Nashville Predators (Marcel Goc and Alexander Sulzer).
2. Sturm will be the second German born player to wear a Kings jersey. Randy Gilhen was the first back in 1991-92 when he sported #15 for 33 games.
3. He shares his September 8th birthday with Kings legend Rogie Vachon, former Kings forward Teddy Purcell and one of the most exciting players from last year’s NHL draft class, Nino Niederreiter (NY Islanders).
4. Late Sunday night we reported Sturm had been assigned jersey #10 by the Kings, a curious move as (a) it is/was Brayden Schenn’s number and (b) Sturm has no previous ties to the number. He wore #19 for the Sharks and #16 most recently for Boston. No word yet on why or how that number was chosen.
5. One of the most important things Kings GM Dean Lombardi has said about the trade is “His contract doesn’t take us out of pursuing other things near the trade deadline.” Meaning, relax everybody, this isn’t THE deal. It’s a low risk, potentially high reward trade that adds some depth. They’re still looking for a legitimate top-six forward. Just remember, over the half league is too – it’s tough.
6. TSN’s Bob McKenzie was adamant via numerous tweets that Sturm was happy about the trade and wanted to play for the Los Angeles Kings. And why not? This is something coach Terry Murray has talked about lately, thinking players would be out of their mind to not want to play in such a great city, with great fans and world class facilities. Ryan Smyth waived his no-trade clause to join the Kings, as did Sturm. Rob Scuderi and Willie Mitchell signed as free agents. Perhaps others are starting to notice.
7. Sturm scored the overtime game winner at the 2010 Winter Classic played inside historic Fenway Park (video here).
8. In an ironic twist to the entire saga of the last few weeks, the trade (and subsequent passing of his physical) allowed Sturm to complete an interesting circle. He was drafted by then-Sharks GM Dean Lombardi at the 1996 NHL Draft in St. Louis…the same city he’ll join the Kings in for his first official practice later today. More on that aspect of the story can be found here.
9. As everybody knows by now, the delay in completing the trade with Boston had to do with the health of his knee. Specifically, his right knee, which incurred a torn ACL and MCL during last year’s playoffs (video here). The injury happened during his first shift in game one of the Eastern Conference Semifinals versus the Philadelphia Flyers. Just a year earlier he had missed significant time after tearing the ACL and meniscus in his left knee. Both situations appear to be somewhat behind him. Yesterday afternoon he passed a strenuous round of tests in Los Angeles and the trade was official. His first game as a King could be as early as next week, perhaps the home game vs. Edmonton on Thursday.
10. Stat Check – Sturm has 466 points (234g, 232a) in 855 regular season games. In 52 playoff games he’s posted 19 points (8g, 11a). He’s been a plus player in 10 of his 12 seasons and scored over 20 goals seven times. Further, in 302 games with the Bruins he had 193 points (106g, 87a) – giving him a .64 points-per-game ratio, 16% higher than his career average. So, he’s been productive over the last few years.
General wisdom suggests that it usually takes a player coming off major knee surgery about a full season to recover to their previous levels of performance. There have been numerous examples of this around the NHL, including Michal Handzus with the Kings. However, it should be pointed out that Sturm had 22 goals, 15 assists and was a plus-15 last season (on an offensively starved Bruins team, their 206 team goals were the lowest among all 16 playoff teams)…all while coming off the above mentioned knee surgery the prior year.
Exactly where he’ll play with the Kings – first line? second line? – is still to be determined. However, he should be able to provide some solid depth at left wing. If he’s able to increase his point production down the stretch this season, this could be a steal for Lombardi.
If not, it cost the team nothing. It’s a no-brainer move.
And besides, go back to point one. The Kings aren’t done shopping.
Their big gift just won’t be waiting under the tree this year. Instead, it’s most likely coming at the Trade Deadline near the end of February.