Dean Lombardi stepped out in a big way today, trading top prospect Brayden Schenn and gritty winger Wayne Simmonds to Philadelphia for top center Mike Richards. The trade comes as a surprise to Kings fans who have heard Schenn and Simmonds names bandied about as trade bait time and again, but never anything of substance. While Kings fans anticipated the trade of Ryan Smyth, this move comes as a complete surprise. Okay, so let’s look at this deal then.
The Kings give up: A 2nd Round Pick, Wayne Simmonds and Brayden Schenn.
In Simmonds they give up a gritty player who has the potential to be a 20 goal guy as well as drop the gloves. Simmonds took a step back in his development last season as his numbers slipped backward. Simmonds was highly sought after whenever the Kings came up in trade talks and is the type of player every team needs. However, the Kings saw the emergence of another similar player last season in Kyle Clifford. Clifford is another gritty, agitator who can score and proved his worth during the Kings 1st round series loss to the Sharks. Simmonds will be missed for his presence, but ultimately will was expendable.
Schenn’s trade is a little tougher to swallow. The kid didn’t fare so well in his brief stay with the Kings but he excelled in Junior hockey and was DOMINANT at the WJC tournament. He’s listed as HockeysFuture.com’s top NHL prospect and was likely to make the Kings roster as 3rd line center, or possibly a place on the wing. Schenn is every definition of a top prospect and no matter which way you shake it, trading him hurts. Kings fans will try to assuage the pain by reminding themselves they have another talented center prospect in Andrei Loktionov and with the acquisition of Richards, Lokti will likely get another year of seasoning in the AHL. The irony is: Schenn has been compared to Richards frequently as the type of player potential he has.
As for what the Kings gain, Richards is a seriously player. Richards was one of Philadephia’s many offensive dynamos. In just 6 NHL seasons he has four 20 goals season, two of which are 30 goal seasons. Richards was the captain of the Flyers and took a flogging from the media for his emotional answers, something he’ll have to deal with less in Los Angeles and without a ‘C’ on his chest. Richards has Olympic Gold, World Junior Gold and has been to the Stanley Cup Final, losing to Chicago. Not to mention, he’s still just 26 years old.
In short, Richards is no joke. Lombardi stepped out and nabbed a true top-center for the Kings. With Kopitar and Richards as the one-two punch, the Kings will be much better down the middle. This also slides Stoll down to 3rd line center, a much better fit for his skill set. Richards is also a career plus-39, which should bode well in the defense-heavy West.
Let’s take a look at what the Kings forwards look like as of now:
Penner – Kopitar – Williams
(Parse) – Richards – Brown
Clifford – Stoll – (???)
Richardson – Lewis – Westgarth
Parse is in parentheses because I’m not sure he’s penciled in there as of yet, considering the alleged Ryan Smyth deal is not done. I think the Smyth deal gets done, but it’s not a sure bet yet. Could the departure of Simmonds convince Dean to try to get Moller back from Europe? Can Mike Richards elevate Parse’s game, which I keep hearing is top-6?
Also of note, the Kings don’t have a pick until the 3rd round now, which means a few things. One, Lombardi must feel like this move really puts the Kings in a good position and that they can stand missing out on some prospects for the benefit it will provide. Two, Lombardi must also feel like this is a weaker draft in order to part with those picks so easily.
Expect Kings fans to be on the love or hate bandwagons for this deal. As for me, I like the move. It gives the Kings a proven big game performer and a guy who always give 100% every time.
Boy, I didn’t think I’d be writing this today. Go Kings.
Update: Apparently the pick isn’t until next year, so the Kings still have this year’s 2nd.
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