Los Angeles Kings GM Dean Lombardi has not been too active leading up to Wednesday's 3 p.m. 2010 NHL trade deadline, as has been his M.O. during most trade environments.
Many speculated that the Kings were in the hunt for Ray Whitney of the Carolina Hurricanes, nicknamed "Wizard" for his offensive ability. There were some reports of offers made, but the two sides could not come to an agreement.
Same goes for the oft-mentioned Ilya Kovalchuk, who eventually found his way to New Jersey after a thousand rumors as to where he'd end up.
Again, there were reports that Lombardi made an offer or two, but it was not enough.
He did strike a deal to acquire center Jeff Halpern from Tampa Bay for Teddy Purcell and a third-round pick, though, the team announced.
This just goes to show that while Lombardi is active, he isn't jumpy. Lombardi consistently states that he has no interest in trading just to trade.
The former Sharks GM always says that, no matter what, he won't make a deal if he feels it would make the team worse. The Kings are no longer sellers, as they have had some success this year, the most of many recent years, and while a little bit of tinkering can help, too much can certainly hurt.
The most important thing in finding a player to bring in is "the right fit," as he so often puts it.
This refers to his abilities on the ice and whether they are something that can be useful in the way the team plays or that are lacking and needed for the team's system.
Mostly, though, it refers to the player's character.
Is he the type of player to put the team first and do everything he can to buy into the system and whatever it takes to help the team succeed?
Or is he the type of player to just play his game, demand playing time, and not try to get along with the guys in the locker room?
The camaraderie in the locker room is an intangible that is often talked about but a hard concept to grasp.
Think of it like soldiers in a war—if you truly like and respect the guy next to you in the trench, you are going to look out for him just as you would yourself; moreover, if he is a complete dirtbag, you might slide behind him should you see danger approaching.
Same goes for hockey players.
If a player on the team is the recipient of a well-placed cheap shot, then if his teammates are close with him and see this happen, they will offer swift justice to the culprit. On the flip side, if they think he is a jerk they might turn a blind eye.
This type of thing is especially important for the—yes, I'll say it—Stanley Cup Playoffs.
As a Kings fan, my hair just stood straight up.
Purcell was very successful in the AHL, even named MVP of the 2008 AHL All-Star Game.
But Purcell has never really found success in the NHL.
He has been placed on practically every single line in the last two seasons and has not contributed offensively on any of them. He is not the most defensively sound guy without the puck and has often looked tentative with it.
No, Halpern is not the scoring winger that so many Kings fans have hoped for.
He is however, someone that fits perfectly with the qualities Lombardi constantly preaches.
He is a definitely a "character guy," as the U.S. coaching staff noticed when they made him captain of the 2008 World Championships team. He is also terrific on faceoffs and on the penalty kill.
With Justin Williams coming back, NOT making a big move and jeopardizing the luminous future for a potential playoff run this year was most likely the best thing Lombardi could have, and did do.
There's always the offseason, with some pretty interesting free agents (COUGH, KOVALCHUCK, COUGH) becoming available for which Lombardi wouldn't have to give up anything but cash, and with the Kings' current cap situation, that is one thing Lombardi can offer.
UPDATE: The Kings also annouced trading for Fredrik Modin from Columbus for a conditional seventh round draft pick, or in other words, free. We'll take him.
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