Less than a week ago many Los Angeles Kings' fans were falling all over themselves in anticipation of landing prized free agent sniper Ilya Kovalchuk.
For L.A. Fans, the hype was short lived as Kings general manager Dean Lombardi recently told reporters that despite his best efforts, he was unable to get Kovalchuk to commit to Tinseltown.
With the addition of Kovalchuk the L.A. Kings would have been one of the favorites to win Lord Stanley's Cup in 2010-11; without him there are still doubts about their offense and about the teams long-term drawing power.
From the outside looking in, even without the addition of Kovalchuk, the Kings are looking good for the 2010-11 season and, with a few tweaks, should be in the running for the Stanley Cup.
According to capgeek.com the Kings have a total of 16 players signed for the upcoming 2010-11 season, with $17,526,666 in cap room with which to sign six players.
Up front the Kings boast a nice collection of grit, scoring prowess, leadership and skill with the likes of Anze Kopitar, Ryan Smyth, Michal Handzus, Dustin Brown, Wayne Simmonds, Justin Williams and Jarret Stoll in the mix.
On defense the Kings boast one of the best core of young defensemen in the business with the likes of Drew Doughty, Jack Johnson, Matt Greene, and veteran Rob Scuderi all in the fold.
Goaltenders Jonathan Quick and Erik Ersberg round out a roster that is on the rise and more than capable of having a very successful regular season and making a long run in the playoffs.
The Kings also feature a huge stable of up and coming talent. Prospects Brayden Schenn (F), Oscar Moller (F), Colten Teubert (D), Davis Drewiske (D), Scott Parse (F)Thomas Hickey (D) Jonathan Bernier (G) and Andrei Lokitionov and the Kings 2010 NHL Entry Draft pick Derek Forbert (D) are as talented as they come, with many of them expected to compete for a roster spot as early as this year.
Needless to say, the Kings organization and their fans have been extremely patient in rebuilding their hockey club, with an emphasis on building through the draft, not free agent signings.
The Addition of a Schenn, Moller and/or Lokitonov up front would all be nice additions for the Kings. That said, all of them still carry question marks at the NHL level and what the Kings need more than anything is a star forward who can light the lamp on the regular.
Given the Kings impressive stable of prospects and their rather large room under the cap, it appears that if the Kings want to add a top-flight forward they will have to put together a package they can offer up in trade that will fetch them a much needed scorer.
Names like Bobby Ryan, Simon Gagne, Jason Spezza, Marc Savard and even the likes of Alexander Semin have all been mentioned in trade rumors this summer—each one coming with their own set of limitations and baggage.
In the case of Spezza, he comes with a cap hit of $7 million in each of the next five years, which is pretty big money for a player who is viewed to be trending downward and looks to be begging to get out of Ottawa.
Gagne has a history of injuries and, while still an effective scorer, cannot be relied upon to score 30+ goals any longer. Yes, Gagne fans will argue, “well, if he stays healthy Gagne could score 40 goals”, but therein lies the problem—Gagne has not been able to stay healthy.
Contrary to reports, I am not convinced the Washington Capitals are looking to trade Alexander Semin. He's too talented, too skilled and has sick chemistry with Alex Ovechkin.
Add to the fact that the Capitals are expecting to make a Stanley Cup run of their own and you see why I am saying the Caps have no intention of moving the talented Russian at this juncture.
Savard has a history of concussion issues and took one of the most vicious hits in NHL history last season at the hands of Matt Cooke—a hit which saw Savard sidelined for an extended period with, you guessed it, a concussion...
Which brings us to Bobby Ryan.
Ryan, taken in the first round (second overall just behind Sidney Crosby) in the 2005 NHL Entry Draft, has registered 66 goals in the last two seasons as a member of the Anaheim Ducks organization and is currently a restricted free agent.
The Ducks and Ryan are believed to be far apart on a new contract and it has also been rumored that Ryan is not happy in Anaheim and would like to be traded.
The Toronto Maple Leafs have long been rumored to be seeking Ryan, but, to the dismay of Leaf fans from coast-to-coast, that trade has never materialized.
Could the Kings convince one of their fiercest rivals to trade Ryan to L.A.???
Given the Kings stable of talented prospects it’s not out of the question. That said, the price is liable to be very steep, with the likes of Schenn, Lokitonov, Moller, Teubert and current roster player Jack Johnson (defenseman) being the players the Ducks would have the most interest in.
It would likley take two of those top prospects to land Ryan—maybe more.
Which begs the question—would the Kings be willing to pull the trigger on a deal of that magnitude?
As far as unrestricted free agents go, there is really only Kovalchuk and then everybody else.
Los Angeles appears to be willing to let longtime King Alexander Frolov walk, while Teemu Selanne, Lee Stempniak, Maxim Afinogenov, Alex Ponikarovsky, Paul Kariya, Bill Guerin, Raffi Torres and Mike Modano all come with some level of uncertainty and risk and do not offer a long-term solution for the Kings organization.
Ryan does all of that. Ryan delivers star power, scoring and a long-term solution up front for the Kings.
Looking ahead to the 2010-11 unrestricted free agent season it appears as if Brad Richards, Joe Thornton, Patrice Begeron, Alexander Semin, Tim Connolly, Mikko Koivu, and David Backes could be amongst those looking for new contracts—all of whom could help the King’s immensely.
If the Kings could land a player of Ryan’s ilk (albeit at a steep price) they would put themselves in the position to attract high-end UFA’s—UFA’s that could put them in the position to hoist a Stanley Cup before long and fill the seats at the Staples Center in the process.
In the end Kings fans must take solace in the fact that the Kings are in a tremendous position to either attract trading partners, bring in key UFA’s in 2010-11 and/or continue to build through the draft, which has paid off handsomely thus far.
The future is bright in Los Angeles—it just may take a little longer for the sun to rise.
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Until next time,