It’s hard to argue with TSN’s Bob McKenzie that this trade deadline is the most active it’s been in years. Already, big name players like Mike Fisher, Craig Anderson, Tomas Kaberle, Erik Johnson, and James Neal have moved to new teams. Of course, with big names moving around and the Kings not involved, Lombardi has received criticism for his lack of activity. Lombardi has been accused of “dithering”, making trades “tedious”, and being a “bridesmaid.” To some extent, those criticisms are true. However, he could also be described as shrewd, patient, and frugal. It’s all a matter of how you look at it.
Let’s be honest here, how often do trade rentals actually put a team over the top? Last year Chicago won and their big deadline acquisition was Kim Johnsson, who was almost immediately injured after joining the team. The addition’s of Bill Guerin and Chris Kunitz to the Pens was certainly helpful. However, the year before, their addition of Marian Hossa didn’t net them a cup. It has to be the right guy, at the right time, for the right price. Even then there is no guarantee that he’ll have chemistry with the team. It’s kind of a crap-shoot.
So, is there a “right guy?” Let’s take a look at the ever growing list of names (Mind you, these are rumors picked up from everywhere, including Hockeybuzz, TSN, THN, and Twitter. Keyword “rumors.”):
Dustin Penner, David Booth, Patrik Elias, Cory Stillman, Stephen Weiss, Jason Spezza, Brad Richards, Josh Bailey, Tim Connolly, Paul Stastny, T.J. Galiardi, Ales Hemsky, and Alex Kovalev.
Do you see the right guy’s name in there? If you’re the type of person who thinks the Kings should target a guy and go after him, I can come up with a reason they won’t. Check it out:
Dustin Penner: Too slow, Kings need more speed.
David Booth: Too injury prone, will cost the Kings too much.
Patrik Elias: Aging, will cost the Kings too much.
Cory Stillman: Won’t provide enough goal scoring.
Stephen Weiss: Will cost the Kings too much.
Jason Spezza: Will cost the Kings too much AND is too expensive (that means the return will be too much and his contract is too large).
Brad Richards: Will cost the Kings too much.
Josh Bailey: Too inexperienced, won’t provide instant help.
Tim Connolly: Too injury prone, won’t provide enough goal scoring.
Paul Stastny: Will cost the Kings too much.
T.J. Galiardi: Won’t provide enough goal scoring.
Ales Hemsky: He’s a right winger, will cost the Kings too much.
Alex Kovalev: Too enigmatic, too expensive.
See? There’s an excuse to NOT trade for each player. Are those valid excuses? Of course they are. Is there a reason to ignore those excuses and go for it? Of course, but it’s a matter of where you draw the line and from what I understand, that line encircles a lot of the Kings assets. High picks, top prospects, and roster players are almost all off limits. So, basically anyone that a seller might be interested in.
So, it’s then my assumption that the Kings are willing to let go of low picks, borderline prospects, and tertiary roster players. Who would then be available to the Kings:
Of course that’s just my evaluation, yet it’s one I feel is sound. Simply eliminate everyone that would require what the Kings consider an overpayment and that’s who you’re left with. And if you’ll notice, both of those guys earned the tag “won’t provide enough goal scoring.” What are the Kings in the market for? A goal scorer. It’s deductive reasoning.
Yet, Lombardi can put a wrench in the spokes of convention by doing something he isn’t wont to do; be unpredictable. Take a chance, make a play for someone big. Does he really need to? Do Kings fans want him to hamstring the team’s future for a run this year? You want a trade now but how will you feel when Simmonds leaves? Or Jack Johnson? Or Schenn, or Loktionov, or Toffoli?
It’s easy to sit up here and wait for the team to bow out of the season or the playoffs and say, “He should have made that trade to push the team over the top,” or, “That trade mortgaged our team’s future and they didn’t even win a cup.” But it’s one man that has to live with the consequences, and that’s Dean Lombardi.
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