For some reason, the trade questions are flooding in from hockey fans way more than in years past. That’s a good thing, but it’s also challenging to answer everybody on Twitter, Facebook, email, radio, etc. So, let’s just take one comprehensive look at what the Kings might be up to. Below are many of the names readers have been asking about, plus some that we believe the Kings are contemplating. The answers provided are a mix of opinion, grounded in reality, and information gathered from our ongoing conversations with management or other personnel around the league.
Before we get into the names of players on other teams, let’s first cover the Kings players and prospects that may be included in any deal before next week’s NHL Trade Deadline. Dean Lombardi is in a pretty tough spot at the moment and quite different than in years past. He doesn’t really have a player that’s expendable AND has trade value. For example, if you’re less than pleased with Matt Frattin’s offensive output, do you really think teams are lining up to get him right now? Likely not.
Lombardi is extremely loyal too, especially to the guys who helped him win the Stanley Cup in 2012. On the flip side, to acquire anybody of significance (let alone the two players they want), they’ll need to clear some cap space – something they desperately need, as acknowledged at the beginning of the season.
So, think of it this way, of all the guys with contracts over $2 million, who might be traded? Jonathan Quick? No. Among the forwards, it’s not Dustin Brown, Jeff Carter, Anze Kopitar or Mike Richards. So, forget about those guys. Yes, for the millionth time Twitter, they aren’t trading Brown.
On the back end, they’re looking to add a defenseman, not get rid of guys. So, scratch Drew Doughty, Willie Mitchell, Robyn Regehr and Slava Voynov off your trade list too.
That leaves Jarret Stoll and Justin Williams. I’m already on record – and first mentioned this last summer – as saying Williams is the odd man out here. It’s nothing personal against Williams, this is just business. The short version of the story here (and I’ve gone into it in greater detail several times over the last two months, including here) is they have a replacement for Williams (Tyler Toffoli) and they don’t have one for Stoll. From what we’ve been told, Lombardi basically sees it the same way and is believed to be shopping Williams. I strongly expect him to be traded by the deadline and if somehow that doesn’t happen, look for him to be moved this summer.
The other two Kings roster players who are theoretically available in a trade are Kyle Clifford and Alec Martinez. As we first reported last month (and thank you to Bob McKenzie for properly crediting MM with having that deal days before the rest of the national media), Clifford was the central figure in something the Kings had going with the Oilers for Sam Gagner. From what we’ve learned, the trade essentially fell apart as Edmonton tried to change the deal points at the last minute – looking for a prospect, instead of a draft pick, as compensation for retaining part of Gagner’s salary.
Clifford is most likely gone at the deadline. Lombardi signed him to a pretty sweet deal last summer, something we noted when we broke the story last August. He’s under contract for one more year at just over $1 million. That should be attractive to several teams.
Martinez has seemingly been in coach Darryl Sutter’s doghouse since the lockout ended last year. As we noted in our season preview article, we believe in Martinez and think he should be a regular starter for the Kings. But, hey, who asked us?
Some of you may have noticed Matt Greene hasn’t been mentioned yet. He’s a bit of an x-factor in everything because of his injury history over the past 13 months, including the back injury that kept him out most of last season. He’s an unrestricted free agent this coming July and Lombardi typically re-signs his key UFAs well in advance. The two sides didn’t even open talks before the season started, which was a sign.
Also, it should be pointed out here that Lombardi and his staff believe they could have beaten Chicago last year in the playoffs if Mitchell and Greene were both available for their normal roles. Although Greene played in the series, he wasn’t fully healthy and Mitchell missed all of last season with a banged up knee.
Lump it all together, and the Kings are looking for more help on defense prior to the upcoming post-season. So, while it’s certainly possible in the right deal, moving Greene before the deadline doesn’t seem like it’s high on the priority list.
More defense is high on the agenda, not less.
Final note on roster players before we move on… among the Kings prospects, the number one untouchable is Toffoli. He’s not getting dealt in some package to acquire any of the players we’re about to talk about below. In fact – and this is a major point, so take note – we were recently told that the three kids (Toffoli, Tanner Pearson and Linden Vey) were going to be given every opportunity to play a significant role for the remainder of the year. Management is looking at the trio to possibly play the ‘Dwight King and Jordan Nolan’ role from 2012.
If one of them was to get dealt – and it would certainly have to be in the right deal, not for a rental – it’s most likely Vey. If it was Pearson, that would be little more surprising, but it would depend on what was coming back to LA. Remember, the Kings are very thin at left wing and he was a first round draft pick. It’s way too early – as in, way too early – to give up on a prospect of his caliber. Unless, and here’s the thing to keep in mind, you can get the player Pearson is expected to be in a few years. That’s basically the Richards deal with Philadelphia. The Kings dealt Brayden Schenn of the future for Richards of the now. Those aren’t rental deals, those are hockey deals. For something like that to happen before the deadline would be a bit surprising.
Now on to the other names around the league and the likelihood of them coming to the Kings…
Ryan Callahan, Ryan Kesler, and/or Ryan Nugent-Hopkins – None of those guys will be wearing a Kings sweater anytime soon. There’s only one Ryan coming to LA and he’s not a free agent for another 16 months.
Sean Bergenheim – Left wing with a reasonable cap hit ($2.75), and signed for one more year. This is the type of deal that could probably get Lombardi excited. The Kings have sent several of their top scouts to see the Panthers games a while back (even Lombardi himself paid a visit there in January). Bergenheim had 17 goals last season and has 13 so far this year, but he’s played only 44 games after missing some time at the start of the season due to injury. He had a good playoff run with Tampa Bay when the Lightning went the Conference Finals in 2011 and could be a good fit with Richards.
Brad Boyes – A player with ties to Lombardi. He was originally drafted by the Leafs, but acquired by San Jose in the Owen Nolan deal. He only played one game with the big club before being dealt to Boston the next year. He currently leads Florida with 17 goals and is on a one-year deal, with a cap hit of only $1 million. Very likely he’s on the short list.
Danny Briere – He is a former Flyer, so he has that going for him. Another bonus is that he’s signed for one more year. However, with a $4M cap hit, that’s a lot of coin to pay a guy who would likely be a third line player in LA. Did we mention he’s 36 years old? Doesn’t seem like a good fit.
Mike Cammalleri – Yes, he scores goals. But this is a guy who Lombardi gladly shipped out of town a few years back. There just isn’t a scenario where he lands in LA unless nobody else bids on him and/or Brian Burke does his old pal a ridiculous solid. It’s much more likely another team overpays to get him. It just won’t be the Kings. Forget about it.
Marian Gaborik – This winger just turned 32 years old during the Olympic break and returned from an injury this week… and promptly scored a goal. He’s been linked to LA before and there is still some interest. It’s possible he lands in LA – if Lombardi can somehow convince the Blue Jackets to retain part of his salary (the cap hit is $7.5M). He’s a free agent this summer, but has the ship sailed on this idea? Some people think so, but one of our sources confirms it’s a deal in play. And… there is this interesting factoid – Columbus has heavily scouted Manchester, perhaps even more than any other club of late. In fact, their Assistant GM was even in town for three games and they’ve sent a pair of scouts in to see the Monarchs on two separate occasions.
Sam Gagner – See comments up above. The original deal is still possible.
Marcel Goc – A natural center, but he’s a left-handed shot (which is a plus). The cap hit is less than $2 million and he’s a walk-away free agent this summer. Lombardi drafted him in the first round back when he was the Sharks GM, so there’s a history too. These are the type of deals Lombardi has done in the past, pick up a guy for very little and if it doesn’t work out, no big deal.
Ales Hemsky – A right wing who hasn’t scored 20 goals since 2009 and has a $5M cap hit. Don’t see the fit.
Jaromir Jagr – Personally, I think he’s a good fit and a perfect ‘heavy’ player that the Kings like. However, when he was available as a free agent last summer there wasn’t much talk of it. Doubt things have changed.
Evander Kane – Young sniper, signed to a long-term deal. Sounds perfect for the Kings. Two problems though. One, he’s off the market since the Jets’ coaching change. Two, the asking price in return was astronomical. Winnipeg was said to want two roster players, a first or second round draft pick and a top prospect. That’s not a deal the Kings would look to make right now.
Andrew Ladd – A 28-year-old who can put the puck in the net. Seems like a good idea. However, the Jets are now talking like they’re buyers, not sellers.
David Legwand – He’s 33, plays center, and has a $4.5M cap hit. Doesn’t make sense for LA.
Matt Moulson – This would purely be a rental and it may be too difficult to pull off, especially considering how many other teams are likely to drive up the bidding. Sources indicate Moulson has no interest in signing in LA when he becomes a free agent in July, despite his brother-in-law Quick being signed to the Kings long term. The asking price will be high and if the guy doesn’t want to be here (and that may or may not be true), Lombardi could see this deal as too much of a hassle and just not worth it. That said, in the weeks leading up to the Olympic break, phone calls were made to at least see what it would take to acquire Moulson. So, he’s open to giving it some thought.
Martin St. Louis – The Kings aren’t getting MSL. Move on.
Chris Stewart – He was just dealt by the Blues, but he’s very likely going to be flipped again. LA really don’t have a need for another right wing (and would obviously would prefer a left wing, if possible). But, if other options don’t work out, adding him to the third line, with his toughness and offensive touch, would be a welcome addition come playoff time. He’s also one of those players you might look to acquire to prevent him from going to Anaheim or San Jose. Overall though, the money here just doesn’t make sense for the Kings. A lot of other doors would need to close first.
Ray Whitney – Lombardi was very interested in him in the past. In fact, he was this close to acquiring him at one point a few years ago when he was in Carolina. There was even interest when the Coyotes were considering dealing him at one point. That idea may be out the window though now as he’s a few years older. While it wouldn’t be a shock if he came to LA, he’s not option A or B at this point.
Tomas Vanek – Don’t see the Kings overpaying to get him. I believe there have been discussions, but that may not mean much, as they’re also interested in at least one other Islanders player. Vanek is strongly believed to be headed to Minnesota this summer and has made it clear he will not sign a contract with any team until after he hits free agency in July. Those aren’t factors that usually mix well with Lombardi. That said, the Kings’ GM is in win-it-now mode and a move to acquire Vanek in a package (see below) could make sense if the Kings can come up with the right mix of prospects and draft picks to satisfy New York.
Christian Ehrhoff – Another Lombardi draft pick while he was in San Jose. With a $4M cap hit, he could be an option on defense – except for one thing, he’s signed until 2021. He might be good, but this isn’t a player Lombardi probably wants to hitch his wagon to for the next seven years.
Tom Gilbert – A 31-year-old former college hockey defenseman, something Lombardi has been stock piling over the last few years. At 6-foot-3 and with a cap hit of less than $1M, he’d be a bargain. He’s a right shot though. Bottom line, this isn’t an upgrade to the LA blueline and Bailey probably has a better chance of making Sutter’s line-up.
Ron Hainsey – He’s a 32-year-old left shot, with a cap hit of $2M and is a walk away free agent this summer. Carolina will certainly move him, but I don’t see him as option A in LA. He’s 6-foot-3, but has already played for five teams.
Dmitri Kulikov – The Kings want defense, and a left shot is ideal. That’s one of the many factors that make Kulikov a smart fit. Add in the fact that he’s only 23 years old and will be a Restricted FA this summer, and this has Lombardi’s finger prints all over it. Pair him with Voynov and call them the Russian Nightmares, a new tag team that would even have the Iron Sheik jealous. To be fair, he was impressive as a rookie and has had some down periods since. A change of scenery could do him some good, yet there is some risk here.
Andrew MacDonald – Another left shot, he’s a ‘very likely’ acquisition next week. He’s 27 years old with a cap hit of just under $600K, so expect a lot of teams to bid on him. One of the major issues here is that he’s a UFA in the summer. Thus, the price could be high for what could amount to a rental. While some want to pick apart his stats in New York, he would likely fare better as a 3-4-5 D-man on a better team vs. playing with Travis Hamonic.
Andrei Markov – Montreal is looking to re-sign him, so he’s probably not available. If something changes, LA would be interested, despite his age (35). This is a guy who ranks 11th in minutes played and could see a lot of ice time if paired with Doughty. He would also help on the power play. Again though, Markov is on the record as saying he wants to finish his career in Montreal.
Chris Phillips – He’s 35 years old, shoots left and is 6-foot-3. Ottawa is trying to re-sign him, but if they deal him, he might work in LA – however, only at the right price. He’s going to be UFA this summer, carrying a $3.1M cap hit for now.
Ladislav Smid – He’s signed for three more years at $3.5M per, which is reasonable, not great. What will the Flames want though for a guy they just inked last summer? He has the size (6-foot-3) and age (28) that fits the bill for LA, plus he’s a left shot. Yet, this doesn’t seem like a Lombardi move, nor a Lombardi player.
Mark Stuart – Left shooting defenseman, but again, the Jets are indicating they’ll be buyers not sellers. The cap hit would be $1.7M and he’s a free agent this summer.
Nick Schultz – A 31-year-old D-man with a $3.5M cap hit who plays for the Oilers, which makes any deal a bit tenuous. He’s also a left shot and stands 6-foot-1. Probably not a plan A or B guy.
Mike Weaver – The last of the Panthers players is 31 years old, has a cap hit of $1.1M and will be a UFA this summer. He also played for the Kings during Lombardi’s first year as GM in LA. Weaver wasn’t re-signed the following summer and eventually moved on to Vancouver.
Still want more? Go read the articles below and add to your hockey education…or just laugh at Doughty and Lewis.
3 MUST-READ ARTICLES:
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