The Los Angeles Kings can't score, pure and simple.
More importantly, the Kings' inability to put the puck in the net is making it that much more difficult for them to live up to the lofty expectations that they and their fans had for Stanley Cup contention coming into the 2011-12 NHL season.
So it should come as no surprise that GM Dean Lombardi is perusing the hockey world for top-six forwards ahead of the February 27th trade deadline. If, somehow, you got a hold of Lombardi's wish list, you'd likely find these three scorers written down, in no particular order.
The relationship between Jeff Carter and the Columbus Blue Jackets continues to deteriorate with each subpar performance he puts out. The 27-year-old center scored a goal in his first game back from a shoulder injury, though he still has only 18 points to show for his efforts during his first season in Ohio.
That's not to say that Carter is necessarily a lost cause. He was a productive player for the Philadelphia Flyers, earning a spot in the 2009 NHL All-Star Game while sharing a line with current Kings center Mike Richards. Hence, a move to L.A. (and back to the wing) may well work wonders to revive Carter's fledgling career.
Still, Carter's contract, which runs through 2021 at a cap hit of $5.27 million per season, is prohibitively expensive, especially for a young Kings team with young talent waiting on pay days. As such, don't expect to see Carter in the City of Angels anytime soon, unless the Jackets are willing to accept peanuts in return.
Assuming Lombardi is more keen to add a goalscorer without taking on a cap-killing contract, he's likely to inquire with the Edmonton Oilers about Ales Hemsky. The 28-year-old winger has yet to discuss a new deal with the Oilers and will be an unrestricted free agent on July 1st assuming nothing gets done.
Hemsky hasn't exactly been the most productive player on the block (22 points in 39 games), but at the right price and with the right motivation heading into free agency, he could prove to be an effective upgrade for a Kings team in desperate need of someone who can put the puck in the right places.
Clarke MacArthur/Nikolai Kulemin
Lombardi also figures to be among the many vulture/GMs circling over the inconsistent Toronto Maple Leafs. The most likely targets? Clarke MacArthur and Nikolai Kulemin.
In the first season of a new two-year, $6.5 million deal, MacArthur has posted 28 points and a plus-4 rating, while Kumelin, an unrestricted free agent this summer, has notched 23 points in 52 games.
Either one would be a welcome addition on the wing for the Kings given both their productivity and manageable contracts, assuming Lombardi doesn't have to give up too much to get them.