On Wednesday morning, LA Kings GM Rob Blake spoke with the media regarding his big trade with the Columbus Blue Jackets that saw him deal franchise icon Jonathan Quick and draft picks for goaltender Joonas Korpisalo and defenseman Vladislav Gavrikov. Part one is up here. Below is the second and final part of his extended media scrum:
Blake on how the trade message was conveyed to the team:
It wasn’t perfect because of the time. A lot of times, you can sit back and say, ‘Well, you should have done this or you should have done that.’ However, it had to be done at that time after the game. Unfortunately, I wasn’t on the trip because I was here. So, there was the call between Jonathan Quick and I, then immediately it was a call between Doughty, Kopitar, and myself. And McLellan grabbed Phil Danault, the other leader on the team. Just to be able to communicate to the other players, so we kind of branched out that way. But the immediate calls, obviously were with Jonathan, and then with Drew and Kopitar.
On where he sees Gavrikov fitting in and if the Kings now have two No. 1 goalies with Copley and Korpisalo:
I think Pheonix did a tremendous job coming in when he did and basically taking over there; finding ways to win games and to allow us to be competitive. That allows us to be in the position to be able to add to the team. Vlad, yes, we’ve obviously been looking over the situation with right handers and left handers. I think [it’s more about] the mold of the player; a bigger player, somebody who is very solid defensively, can play minutes, can do PK, can check top players. You talk about the West and the teams as we go forward here, they all have good players. We rely on checking, through a very structured system. I think they both come in and they give us some added depth in those different areas on our team.
On the road trip, some of the issues with protecting leads and giving up goals right after scoring presented themselves again; how much has game management factored into these moves:
With Gavrikov, obviously the style that he plays will feed into that. With Joonas, the season he’s had this year, now paired with Copley going forward, you get that solid goaltending. The inconsistency [of this year’s Kings team] was a little more apparent early in the season. The coaching staff had addressed it and I think they’ve done a good job with that. Now, you want to take that level into every game. I thought we had a very competitive road trip. These were two tough road trips back-to-back – the Florida trip and then you go to Islanders, Rangers, Devils, Minnesota, and finish in Winnipeg. Those are difficult trips. We got the big two points last night. Now, we come home. We have to continue to push, though, to make that run for the playoffs.
On what this does for the blueline depth chart:
Obviously, Gavrikov will play the left side. How they unroll from there, I haven’t had a chance to go over it yet with Todd this morning. We need to get him in and get him going. He hasn’t played in the [Blue Jackets] last few games because he was held out for trade related reasons. It gives us options there, but the size and the technique that he plays with, and the style that he plays with, we didn’t do. Now we’re adding to that to our depth. I think Durzi has done a terrific job making that adjustment and he’s really added a lot of different looks to our backend. The combination of all these guys, we’re at seven of them currently now, leaning into the deadline, that can give us different looks. Both Durzi and Walker can play the left if need be in different situations.
[ed note: We’re expecting Alex Edler to play fewer games moving forward. This could lead to a third pair that features Durzi on the left side.]
On the available cap space and how he might look to deploy that; assuming a bottom-6 forward and toughness would be areas to address:
Depth may be the key word there. I think Rasmus Kupari has come in and done a real good job earning a spot on that line. He gives you a penalty killer and a right-handed centerman that becomes effective for us. Depth in different areas is probably what we’re looking at here over the next couple of days. We’ll see. Again, it has to be the right fit and has to allow us to get better.
On possible contract extensions for Korpisalo or Gavrikov:
We haven’t entered into or had any of those conversations just yet. We’ll see how things go. There are so many different variables. We’re more focused on getting them acclimated to our roster, and in their spots, then push for the playoffs.
On if it’s better to address the organization’s glut of right shot defensemen in the off-season or at the Trade Deadline:
I don’t know. Currently, right now with our situation, we have these right-handed D but we also have the right combination after this type of an acquisition. I think we’re comfortable where it stands right now.
On how long he had his eye on Korpisalo and Gavrikov:
These needs are identified early on. There’s lots of names that could be possibilities. Then you want to see which ones are the best fits and then you, obviously, have to finalize the deal. There has been a lot of work behind the scenes leading up to it. Again, the primary focus was probably the last 48 hours.
On if there is anything in particular about Korpisalo’s game that makes him feel like an upgrade in net and if there has been any talk yet about the rotation with Copley moving forward:
No discussion on the split, that will play itself out. Todd, Billy Ranford, and the coaching staff have a big say in there. I think the stability of Joonas, the calmness of his game — not dissimilar to Pheonix right now and the way he’s playing — the two of them will give us a good chance in net every night.
On if there is any update on Trevor Moore’s injury situation:
He went on IR; obviously dealing with the same type of injury that he had, I think it was right around Christmas and from that point on. He’s skated here for a couple days and had a day off [recently]. We’ll see how he does over the next few days to see if he can progress back to a game situation.
On if Moore’s injury will necessitate another trade to add a forward:
No, we fully expect him back and healthy here in a short time.
On if this trade builds on adding players like Phil Danault and Kevin Fiala to signal to the rest of the league that this Kings team is ready do what it takes to compete now:
I think the team is competitive. I think each of those moves were to get better. There was definitely a transition from moving players out without necessarily making it better immediately. I think all these other moves were addressing — you talk all the way back to Danault or Arvidsson or forward from there — and I suspect any moves going forward here will be to always try and make this team better. It is competitive and we want to push and get into the playoffs and see what we can do.
On how much of this is because there doesn’t appear to be a dominant team in the Western Conference and if it’s ripe for the taking:
It’s more focused on our team and where they’ve been able to put themselves. You look at the 20-game mark, 40-game mark, the All Star Break and then you get to the deadline. Then, the focus is where is the team? What do we project it to be over the next 20-25 games? And where can we help the team? Like I said, they’ve been very competitive. They’ve been led by Kopitar all year long. You see these players start to find and fit their roles. We hope these other two players come in and do the same thing.
On anything he can share from the call with Quick last night:
That’s personal, but they’re never easy and that was probably the most difficult one.
[Part 1 is linked below for reference]
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