It seems like I can’t get the song “I Am Waiting,” by The Rolling Stones out of my head these days. Every day we hockey fans get up, hoping for a morsel of news to satisfy our hockey cravings, but we instead we get crumbs. The Red Wings sign Justin Abdelkader! Alert the presses!
There were a few weeks where I felt the Kings really would sign Kovalchuk. Then there were a few weeks I felt Lombardi would make a serious trade for a scoring winger. However, I’ve resigned myself to the idea that the team the Kings are now is the team that will go into camp. My gut tells me no trade will be made, no free-agent will be signed.
Yet, if this were a perfect world and Dean Lombardi were Santa Claus, I would submit to him this wish list. Mind you, I was never the kid to ask for the “official Red Ryder carbine-action 200 shot range model air rifle,” or for those who haven’t seen A Christmas Story, an X-Box. I was always a little more practical. So here is my wish list:
1. A Top-4 Defenseman. Especially with Matt Greene sitting out a few weeks with injury, the Kings need a veteran defenseman to fill the void. I’m all for the kids coming up and getting some time, but not three kids from Manchester. The thought of Johnson and Doughty as elder statesmen on the Kings blue-line is not palatable. I’m not asking for Duncan Keith or Shea Weber or Mike Green. Just someone who can move the puck out of the zone and is safe in his own defensive end. Comparable (not necessarily these players, but like them): Willie Mitchell, Tim Gleason.
2. Top-6 Winger. Some might place this as top priority, but you have to remember the Kings did pretty well last season with basically the offense they have now. However, what killed them in the playoffs was 5-on-5 scoring. It’d be nice to have a shiny new forward to pot 25+ goals for this season. No, I don’t expect a Kovalchuk or a Gaborik. I want a player who can provide some offense without being the star. Comparable: Brad Boyes, (sigh) Simon Gagne.
3. 2nd Line Center. But what about Jarret Stoll, Eric? I’ll tell you what; an average of 17 goals and 44 points is not good enough. I think the Kings were hoping Stoll’s 68 points in 05-06 was what we could expect him to put up here in So-Cal, however that number appears to be an aberration, as many players experienced in the post-lockout year. Stoll’s time in L.A. pegs him as more a #3 center, but the Kings already have one of those in Handzus, and honestly a better one. Expecting 60 points from a 2nd line center doesn’t seem to be asking for too much. Comparable: Mike Fisher, Patrick Sharp.
I’m not unreasonable, Santa. I don’t expect these gifts to come free. I’m even willing to donate some of my old toys that I’m done playing with to less fortunate teams. Below is my list of players you are free to take:
-Jarret Stoll or Michal Handzus
Don’t get me wrong, I like all of these players. I have quite an affinity for Justin Williams going back to his days in Carolina. Stoll is one of the few players who actually injects some personality into an interview. Handzus is a fan favorite, and that’s certainly not lost on me. Ersberg was a bit of a bright light at the end of a dismal 07-08 season. However, it comes down to what pieces this team needs in order to really compete.
My biggest fear is that the Kings plateau and stay a 6th place, out-in-the-first-round team. Lombardi has done an amazing job of rebuilding, developing a young core, restocking the cupboards, and adding some good veterans, but in order to reach that next level they still need a few more pieces.
Like I said before, I don’t expect these things to happen but sometimes it’s fun to window shop.
“I am waiting, I am waiting, all year all year…”
About the Author
Written by Eric Cooney
Eric Cooney was born in Pennsylvania, grew up in North Carolina, and lives in Los Angeles, CA. He shares his thoughts on the NHL as one man who is a northerner, southerner, east coaster, and west coaster. Follow him on Twitter @EricCooney