LA Kings Trades: Grading Their Moves (and Non-Moves) at the Trade Deadline
The LA Kings were one of the more active teams leading up to the trade deadline this past Monday, but like many were quiet in the final hours.
The hype and hysteria surrounding the deadline, mostly due to the mystery of where Rick Nash would land, was anti-climatic to say the least, as no more than a few depth players were dealt.
However, this does not mean that we still cannot take a look at what LA should have done.
Here are some grades for the Kings trades leading up to the deadline and a few they were rumored to make before business closed on Monday.
The Jeff Carter Deal
Jeff Gross/Getty Images
No one is surprised that the Kings would go after some offense at the trade deadline. With only 134 goals on the season they have the shameful honor of being the worst offense in the league.
However, it came as much more of a surprise who they went after and got.
Jeff Carter’s history is well documented both on and off the ice. The career 30-goal average for the center also drags along with it an attitude and love for the night life that had Philadelphia dealing him in the first place.
Reuniting him with Mike Richards is expected to resurrect a duo that once combined for 164 points on a season (2008-09). But it also runs the risk of two enablers falling back into bad habits.
Generally, it is worth the risk for a team on the playoff fringe whose goal total is the only thing is keeping them out. However, I feel that what they gave up was far too much considering the gamble.
Jack Johnson and a conditional first-round pick were the price the Kings had to pay for Carter’s services. I thought it unwise to give up a solid, young defender like Johnson who provides as much with his character as he does in on-ice performance.
Through two games, Carter has yet to produce, going pointless in roughly 37 minutes of play. With the Kings just outside of that coveted last playoff spot, he has to start returning on his deal soon or this could prove to be a huge bust for the franchise.
Dustin Brown Rumors
Jeff Gross/Getty Images
The trade deadline is not a day to revamp your team. It is the last chance to upgrade and get value out of the fat on your team. Apparently, the Kings do not understand this concept.
Other than Nash, no other name on the market stirred as much interest as when the Kings began to dangle their captain Dustin Brown out there to try and bait teams into giving up a big player.
The career-long King does not blow you away with numbers, but his consistent 50-plus points a season is not the only thing he brings to the team. The team captain is one of the most respected players in the entire league. The Toronto Star even wrote that “the ‘C’ stands for much more than captain. Try crushing. Try character. Try charitable.”
What they aimed to get for Brown was never identified, but Newsday suggests it could have been an attempt to bring Nash along with Carter to give them a formidable first line.
However, even bringing in the best player on the market and arguably one of the top goal scorers in the league, would not go over well with fans who see Brown as being more a part of the team than any single player.
LA coach Darryl Sutter tried to dismiss these claims on Tuesday:
"There's very little work done on it, because it's just rumors. It starts with a lie—they say a source—and that's what makes me mad.
"It's disrespectful to the players. It's part of the business, I understand that. There's a lot of people that pretend to be friendly to the players, and they basically. . . . I don't like it," he said.
Ultimately they proved to be unsubstantiated rumors, but the Kings should have jumped on it right away to squash them before they added unnecessary tension in the locker room.
Jonathan Bernier Stays in LA
Dave Sandford/Getty Images
Brown’s name came up literally in the final day or two leading up to the deadline, but backup goalie Jonathan Bernier had been rumored to be on the market for the better half of the season.
Going into this campaign, Bernier was expected to get more playing time, but has since found himself playing backup to Jonathan Quick more often than he would like. Quick is having a sensational season with a GAA of 1.92, currently third-best in the league.
Many see the 11th overall pick in the 2006 draft as essentially wasting away in Los Angeles when he could be helping out another team that is building for the future.
The Maple Leafs reportedly were looking at the 23-year-old, as well as Chicago.
However, not moving him was probably the best thing to do according to LA Kings Insider Rich Hammond:
First, what would Bernier’s value be? It’s probably higher among those who follow the Kings regularly, who (in large number, at least) believe that Bernier has the potential to be a No. 1 goalie.
On the base level, though, Bernier is a 23-year-old goalie with only 42 games of NHL experience. No team will give up the farm to get him, and the Kings are highly unlikely to simply take draft picks for Bernier.
And what about contracts? Would the Kings trade Bernier before Quick is locked up to a long-term deal? The nightmare scenario for the Kings would be to trade Bernier, then have Quick walk next summer.
Though I think a move could have been beneficial should the right offer have come along, I agree with Hammond and think they were right to hold off.
Handling of Rick Nash Talk
John Grieshop/Getty Images
Like every team in the league, the Kings were not immune to speculation around them potentially going after Rick Nash.
Even as I post this article two days following the deadline, a simple Google search for “LA Kings Trade Rumors” returns pages and pages of Nash talk.
It all began when Nash himself released a list of six teams he was willing to waive his no trade clause for, and the Kings were one of them.
Nash, of course, would have been an excellent addition and got an “A” grade from me had they picked him up, but there is a point where it can become ridiculous.
Fourth Period magazine senior writer Dennis Bernstein even tweeted out the possibility of the Kings Jonathan Bernier, Jack Johnson, Andrei Loktionov and more for the star.
However, all the rumors went unfounded as there never really seemed like any deal was ever presented to Columbus. It was all just press hype trying to push one through.
After Carter arrived it seemed certain that Nash would not be following him to Southern California.
Unlike the Rangers and San Jose, who allowed themselves to get swept up in the hysteria of the Nash lottery, the Kings remained calm through it all and unnerved, making the smart deals they had to, not the ones the media wanted.
Jeff Gross/Getty Images
The Kings were one of the more active teams this trading window, not necessarily in terms of numbers, but rather names.
Jeff Carter was undoubtedly the biggest name on the move in the final days, and Jack Johnson being involved as well is a youngster expected to grow into quite the player.
While the team’s inability to silence rumors around their captain caused some tension and nerves in the locker room, they could not have asked it to happen to a better player. No one is as well equipped mentally to handle it as Brown is.
Unfortunately the effects of such media hype are yet to be seen on their young netminder, Bernier. Goalies are a breed of their own and can often take things more personally than others.
Through no fault of their own, the position requires a sense of self-responsibility. But it could have lasting effects if he is emotionally fragile.
And finally, they were able to avoid listening to the siren calls by the media, for them to bet the farm and bring in Nash. LA loves its stars, but just as long as they are winning. While Nash is good, I doubt he would have been very effective all by himself.
Some see the Kings as coming out of this trade deadline as losers due to the inconsistency and potential bust of Carter. But I am more of an optimist and am expecting him to do exactly what Kings fans hope he can—score some freakin’ goals!!!
Final Grade: B
How Would You Grade the Kings Deals?
Victor Decolongon/Getty Images
These grades are of course as subjective as it gets. There was no criteria other than my own instincts and feelings. So of course there will be disagreement and I always welcome opposing views.
Do you think my grade on the Brown rumors was too harsh? Was giving up Johnson for Carter much worse than I made it out to be? Should they have gone after Nash harder?
Feel free to answer these questions and propose your own grades in the comments section below.
Thanks for reading!
Follow me on Twitter: @thecriterionman