Los Angeles Kings: Evaluating the Moves and Non-Moves at the NHL Trade Deadline
February 27th has come and gone for the league. Which means the NHL trade deadline is over.
With so many teams fighting closely for playoff spots, general managers were hesitant to mortgage the future for the now or try and go for the big blockbuster.
The Kings, however, for the second year in a row, walk away from the deadline having the highlight-reel transaction.
There were tons of options and rumors flying around out there regarding the Kings. Here's how I feel they handled themselves in the last few days.
Jeff Carter for Jack Johnson and a 1st-Round Pick (2012 or Conditional 2013)
While technically not a deadline-day deal, it certainly was a move prompted by the approaching event.
Dean Lombardi and the Kings have suffered through this season with an extreme lack of offense. This is not a new issue. The Kings looked to address this last trade deadline with the acquisition of Dustin Penner and it has failed miserably.
However, I feel that this acquisition is much more helpful and much better for the organization.
Jeff Carter is a natural sniper who has averaged over 35 goals his last three seasons. He is a player who loves to shoot and shoot often. It's exactly the type of player the Kings have lacked for several years.
Giving up the loyal Jack Johnson is a tough thing. But in this world you have to give quality to receive quality. The Kings have a deep pipeline of puck-movers including Slava Voynov, former first-round pick and AHL All-Star Thomas Hickey and Nicolas Deslauriers in the waiting.
I love what Dean Lombardi did here. Trading from strength to improve at a weakness—GMing 101. He also didn't overpay for Carter, which in regards to deadline deals, is an astounding thing.
Dustin Brown Staying Put
One of the major headlines after the Jeff Carter acquisition was the apparent availability of Kings captain Dustin Brown.
Whether or not it was a motivational tactic by Dean Lombardi to get the streaky Kings core producing is a point of much debate among fans.
Regardless, Brown, 27, responded with a hat trick and a four-point night against Chicago the next game.
Trading Dustin Brown would have been a shakeup for certain, but not necessarily the right kind of shake up in my opinion. Brown's production has been off-pace this year, but he still contributes in many aspects of the game other then the goal column.
I like the hold steady move by Dean Lombardi. It's showing some confidence in this young leadership group that they are still the ones to get the job done and make this season a successful one.
Penner Still a King
Has there been a more publicly scrutinized figure on the Kings this season than Dustin Penner?
There is the lack of production, his fitness level, the infamous pancake incident, etc.
But amidst all the wheeling and dealing of the day, Dustin Penner remains in the silver and black at least until the summer, when his $4.25 million contract is up.
At this point, to me, the general question is this: Was anybody really willing to take Penner? It's tough to say, honestly. The likelihood is that he wouldn't have garnered more then a draft pick though. Would a fourth-round pick really be worth more then Penner?
You just have to shrug your shoulders at this one. The Kings don't really have any good prospects ready for full-time NHL play so at this point. As much as it hurts, it's the only option the Kings have.
I don't really like it, but it is what it is.
Kings Don't Pull the Trigger with Bernier
But the Kings weren't ready to part ways with highly-touted goaltender Jonathan Bernier, even though the return likely would have been pretty good.
The drive-by fan might look at this and say, "Why not trade him? You have Quick!" True, but we also have Quick's contract coming up after next season. Quick currently makes $1.8 million and will certainly be deserving of a raise.
Knock on wood: What if Jonathan Quick is injured or his contract negotiations do not go smoothly? The Kings would be left with 22-year-old Martin Jones or 24-year-old Jeff Zatkoff to man the helm.
It's a hesitant non-move by the Kings, but it is erring on the side of caution. While I would like to see Jones or Zatkoff get a backup chance and Bernier would likely net a valuable return, until Quick is signed long-term, I don't see Bernier being moved.
And that is a wise choice in the end.
No Nash? No Problem.
So who didn't know today was Rick Nash Day? Not surprisingly, he stayed put. But even that ended with a nice bit of drama.
It was reported that the Kings were a possible destination for the big power forward for at least a little while. The idea of Nash's scoring touch on the Kings is enough to make any fan drool.
Nash does, however, carry a huge cap hit of $7.8 million. With Doughty already signed to $7 million, Kopitar to $6.8 and Quick likely to carry a hit around $5 or $6 million, that's a ton of money tied up in four players.
Also, the reported deals that Columbus were asking for were pretty high (Couture, Vlasic et al) (Dubinsky, Erixon, Del Zotto et al).
I for one am very happy the Kings didn't go after Nash. It would have been too expensive in both cap and trade assets, and too financially handcuffing. Teams that normally sink a majority of money into two or three players have problems with depth, which is arguably a problem for the Kings right now. Why make it worse?
There was a lot of talk about the Kings trying to acquire a depth forward. AKA a rental. Just some of the players mentioned: Ryan Malone, Jay Pandolfo, Mike Knuble.
If you have followed the Kings for any number of years, you know that our rental acquisitions have historically been horrible (Freddy Modin, Jeff Halpern, Anson Carter, Cliff Ronning etc).
That being said, adding a veteran to the bottom six could have been useful to the Kings, who have lacked production in those lines.
I have never been much a fan of trading assets for impending unrestricted free agents. And I am glad the Kings stayed quiet on this front. If we really wanted to acquire a player with playoff experience to add to the bottom six, we could have just kept Moreau. Unnecessary.
Stoll Stays in LA
Whether or not Jarret Stoll was in play is a question. He is an impending unrestricted free agent with a very youthful core behind him in the depth chart, though, so naturally it was assumed.
Looking at Stoll, he has everything a playoff team would want: faceoffs, defensive responsibility and experience.
Problem is, the Kings aren't currently a playoff team, but they aren't out of the playoffs, either. This is exactly the type of player a team making a push into the playoffs would want. So naturally the Kings kept him.
Given that Paul Gaustad went for a first-round pick to Nashville, I would have definitely tested the waters on Stoll. Also, rookie Andrei Loktionov is currently in the minors due to a logjam at center.
Probably the only deal of the day I don't agree with. But then again, down the line Stoll may prove more valuable then a high draft pick.
Loktionov's Future Remains Here for Now
We saw a player like Cody Hodgson dealt at the deadline basically due to a numbers game. The young center is currently third in the depth chart behind Henrik Sedin and Ryan Kesler.
Hodgson is no way a bottom six center, but is not currently capable of overtaking Kesler or Sedin. Ergo, for his benefit and Vancouver's, he was traded.
Enter Loktionov. Essentially, he is in the same position, behind Mike Richards and Anze Kopitar.
Loktionov has an attractive skill set and is a gifted playmaker, but still needs to learn the NHL game. Certainly, a player that caught the eye of a lot of GMs on deadline day. But at 3pm EST, Loktionov was still a member of the Kings.
This is a tough one. While I like Loktionov and love that he is still a King, you wonder if he would be better served on another team where he can succeed. Is he really a 3C? In the mold of a Filppula? I would like to hope so.
For now it's certainly an okay non-move, but the future is uncertain.