Los Angeles Kings Should Still Be Sellers at Trade Deadline

Steve KeeganCorrespondent IFebruary 26, 2009

For once, Los Angeles Kings fans should hope AEG President Timothy J. Leiweke is continuing his legacy of lies and deceit.

Earlier this season, Kings management said they would get help for their young team, the youngest in the NHL with an average age of 25.3 years, if they showed the potential to make the playoffs.

While the vastly improved Kings sit 4 points out of the final playoff spot, management has thus far gone back on their word once again. However, that might not be such a bad thing if you believe in the approach GM Dean Lombardi has taken over his four year tenure.

Starting with Lombardi's first trade with the team involving Pavol Demitra for Patrick O'Sullivan and eventual first round pick Trevor Lewis, the Kings have set out to trade anybody and everybody that might glean a draft pick in return. The Kings are now on the verge of being the Tampa Bay Devil Rays of the hockey world, as they watch the myriad of prospects they have hoarded all mature simultaneously. 

Lombardi, who was roundly criticised and ultimately fired for taking the same approach in San Jose, is now watching the fruits of his labor take hold up the coast. Current Sharks and Lombardi draft picks Patrick Marleau, Evengi Nabokov, and Jonathan Cheechoo are now the cornerstones of this year's Stanley Cup favorite.

It looks as though Lombardi's tactics could be validated once again with all the young, promising talent LA has stockpiled.

Let's not get ahead of ourselves though.

Although the Kings have great promise, they should definitely still be sellers this year. Even if they were able to pull off a playoff run, they would most likely be playing the Sharks in the first round, who they haven't beaten once this year.

With virtually every player on the team being young and under cheap long-term contracts, there really isn't much left to hawk for yet more draft picks outside of veteran defenseman Sean O'Donnell and forward Michal Handzus.

O'Donnell, 37, would make sense for a team looking for toughness, veteran leadership and a guy with a Stanley Cup ring on his finger. O'Donnell could help a team get over the top. Contrastly, O'Donnell will be too old to be a part of the Kings once they finally mature, and could be easily replaced in free agency.

Handzus, 31, has proven himself to be the unsung hero of the Kings this season. Although his stats seem less than spectacular (11 goals, 16 assists), his big body has proven highly effective on the power play at screening goaltenders. It seems like half the goals the Kings have gotten on the power play this season have been a direct result of Handzus putting his butt in the goalie's face.

However, at $4 million per year and with no points in his last three games, Handzus could be moved to a playoff team with a struggling power play, such as Montreal...especially if more draft picks are involved.

The last thing the Kings should do after putting their fans through this seemingly never-ending rebuilding process, would be to throw away any future stars just to make the playoffs and get swept in the first round.