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Some Kings “What Ifs?”

So a few weeks ago I posted a blog about how the Kings had problems finishing in regulation, relating the problem to A) scoring woes and B) their past history of overtime losses in the playoffs.  For it, I was called “desperate and nerdy” and a “bad journalist” (I wish) and told it was “poor writing.”  Since then, the Kings have only gone to OT 2 more times in 10 more games.  So, I will concede that they at least escaped that trend.  However, their record since that blog is 4-4-2, which is a downslide from the 8-1-5 record they held at the time under Sutter.  The Kings’ scoring woes are a topic of conversation now and I stand by my earlier blog; the Kings have problems finishing.

The Kings under Darryl Sutter are 12-5-7, which isn’t bad.  However, that’s still 12 wins and 12 losses and it still shows the Kings have problems ending games in regulation.  10 of Sutter’s 24 games as coach have gone to overtime, with 3 victories and 7 losses.  As of this date, no team in the league has less goals than the Kings.  You can blame Mike Richards cooling off, blame Dustin Penner’s fall from grace, blame Gagne for being perpetually injured, blame Jamie Kompon (as I am wont to do, regardless of the validity of such claims).  It’s no one player or coach’s fault.

The Kings are consistently inconsistent when it comes to scoring and this team as it is won’t do damage in the playoffs.

Bring on the hate mail, but it’s how I feel.  Something has to change and when you’ve already replaced the coach, it’s time to think trades.  Now, I’m not a trade-happy kind of guy who thinks Player-X is the answer, but it’s abundantly clear the Kings need to add a goal scorer.  Preferably one that scores goals this time.

With the Kings popping up in trade rumors for Rick Nash (yet another right wing), I’m sure Lombardi is doing his shopping.  However, we know how well the Kings fare when it comes to landing the prize pig, so don’t get your hopes up.  If there’s some kind of conversion chart of “Kovalchuk -> Penner” or “Brad Richards -> Mike Richards”, we could probably figure out “Rick Nash -> _______.”

But let’s pretend for a second that the Kings land Nash.  He’s very expensive and the Kings will have to give up as much salary as they take on given their cap situation.  That means the “Bernier, Johnson, and a 1st” won’t really make enough space unless there’s some garbage thrown in.  Let’s say Penner.  That’s not going to be comfortable for the BJs because they’re up against the ceiling as well.  I would expect some more dealing on their part as well, since we’re hearing rumblings of a restructure in Columbus.

Even in a world in which Bernier, Johnson, and a 1st gets you Rick Nash, the cost to the Kings causes trickle down.  Bernier has lost his luster as the Kings’ savior in net since Quick has been great AND consistent.  However, the Kings will probably want to add an experienced NHL backup if Bernier leaves.  Jeff Zatkoff is capable but if this is all for a playoff run, it would be wise to add experience between the pipes and not kill the kid’s confidence if he’s needed down the stretch.

I have my problems with Johnson, but he has improved defensively this season and has a very affordable cap hit for the production he brings.  While he may be the Kings’ most appealing trade piece, he’s also an important piece of this defense.   So if he leaves, are the Kings happy without him?  Voynov makes the case that they are and could capably take the 2nd pair spot with Martinez making his way back into the lineup permanently in the bottom pair.

The 1st round pick is a vexing suggestion.  After stockpiling picks for years, the Kings have suddenly stalled out in the prospect department.  Don’t get me wrong, there is still quality in the well with Toffoli, Vey, Deslauriers, Muzzin, etc.  However, it will hurt a few years down the road when those guys make the jump.

Trading value will get you value and with Bernier or Johnson the return will be good (hopefully).  What the Kings need to do is shed deadweight.  A player not worth his contract is a huge divot in the budget for a team and for the Kings that divot is named “Dustin Penner.”  I think the first thing the Kings need to do is find a selling team to take on Penner for whatever they can.  ”Future Considerations”, ie. nothing, is fine.  Just opening up the cap space is a boon (see: Boston Bruins unloading Marco Sturm).

Working in the Kings’ favor?  Depth at defense.  With Doughty embedded as the team’s top offensive defenseman, Johnson or Voynov or Martinez are possible value-getters (yes, I said value-getters).  Is Hickey a value-getter?  He’s an RFA this summer.  Is he someone the Kings might throw in?

It’s a tricky situation to navigate.  The Kings can’t get caught cutting off their nose to spite their face.  Otherwise they’ll just trade one problem for another.  It will be interesting to see how Lombardi handles this one.

Go Kings!

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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

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In response to “Some Kings “What Ifs?””

  1. Erik Feb 16 20129:46 am


    How can you say trade Johnson, he has been head and shoulders better then Doughty this year. If your looking for a real trade piece how about Doughty and Bernier for Nash straight up, you have enough D-depth to still be effective, you sign a veteran back up and ride Quick as far as he takes you and you don’t sacrifice the first round pick. Money works and its the best deal the Jackets will get.

    1. Eric Cooney Feb 16 201211:02 am


      While Johnson did start out having a better year than Doughty, Doughty has since passed JJ in points, plus/minus (by +10) and in all around play. Doughty was struggling due to a) missing camp because of his contract hold out and b) shoulder problems. But now that he’s healed he’s playing better. Doughty’s long term potential is that of a Norris contender. Johnson will never be at that level. There is no way the kings would trade Doughty over Johnson.

      1. Erik Feb 16 20121:07 pm


        Johnson is a more physical D-man, has more goals only 5pts less at a 3rd of the price tag of Doughty. Doughty plays with Mitchell most of the time who is a much more sound D-man then Green and makes up for alot of the mistakes Doughty makes. Doughty turns the puck over more then any other Kings d-man and he is soft infront of the net. He showed that last year when SJ ate him up in the playoffs had he not had one 4pt game he would have been destroyed. Now not that Johnson can do better but lets put him with a solid partner and match him against the top guys and see how he does. If it doesn’t work then you know the area you have to address in the offseason (i.e. Sutter from Nashville). Either way a 7MM dollar guy that is playing like a 2MM dollar playercan be moved for a guy like Nash then do it in a heartbeat

        1. Eric Cooney Feb 16 20121:13 pm


          Johnson is not a more physical defenseman than Doughty. Stat-wise, Drew has 24 more hits than Johnson in 5 less games. Long term, Doughty has a much better career trajectory than Johnson and selling Drew now when his value is low wouldn’t help either. Johnson is pretty close to his career potential right now. I’d rather stick with Doughty, even if it’s taking the down year if it means having the better player in the end. There is no doubt in my mind that Doughty is the better of the 2 defensemen, and I guarantee you the Kings organization agrees.

          1. Erik Feb 16 20121:28 pm

            Yes, he is better of course I agree, but 5MM better? You know what kind of player you can get for 7MM a year…Shea Webber or Parise (proven guys) we sold Shenn short of his career potential and he had more upside then Doughty…what makes Doughty untouchable? Do you think he is a top ten D-man right now? Not can he be…is he because he is making 7MM then perform like it.

          2. Erik Feb 16 20121:31 pm

            My overall point is your comparring talent with a total disregard for cost…its not a video game you have to look at what each is costing the team and the value they are giving back. I garantee Johnson is earning his 2.5 MM is Doughty earning his 7MM?

          3. Eric Cooney Feb 16 20121:39 pm

            Is he a top 10 guy right now? No. Will he be next season, yeah he might be. I’m not talking 5 years down the road to collect on his potential. You want to sell him now when his value is low because you can’t wait 1 year for him to pick up the pace? It’s not that dire of a situation. On Weber, he’s making $7.5 right now, which he was awarded in arbitration, which means he’ll make absolutely no less than that this summer. You don’t think there will be a bidding war for him this summer? He’s going to be an $8.5 million dollar guy this summer. Doughty will seem like a steal when the price gets that high on Weber. Believe it. And I am taking cost into consideration. What you need to do is take time into consideration. Player’s have up and down years, but if a team traded them every time they had a down year they’d be left with nothing. Players, especially young players require patience. Doughty is worth his price tag, not just as a player but as an investment.

  2. Sben88 Feb 16 20121:57 pm


    LOL oh my god….

  3. Erik Feb 16 20122:17 pm


    Steal, I am not talking about giving him away I talking Bernier and Doughty for Nash…thats Rick Nash a 2 time 40goal scores, 27yr old 6’4 215 pound winger w/skill. Yes at a hit of 7.8MM cap hit, whats it going to cost to resign Bernier combine that with Doughty 7MM yep I take Nash all day

    1. Eric Cooney Feb 16 20122:25 pm


      I don’t dislike Nash. I also have my problems with him, chiefly that he’s predominantly a RW and the Kings desperately need LW. I just think it would be more prudent to trade Johnson than Doughty. It’s obvious you’re argument is well thought out and you’re convinced to the contrary of me. Agree to disagree.

  4. Erik Feb 16 20122:23 pm


    And by the way no one is taking a 8.5MM cap hit on Weber, he’ll be a 7-7.5MM cap hit for 10yrs…I

    1. Eric Cooney Feb 16 20122:27 pm


      Given Weber’s contract dispute this summer, I can’t imagine he’d take a lower number than he’s already received unless it’s to go play with Crosby or Detroit or something ungodly like that.

  5. Erik Feb 16 20122:31 pm


    As is yours, just an FYI…I do enjoy your blog though, its one of the few here w/substance wether I agree or not ;)

    1. Eric Cooney Feb 16 20122:34 pm


      Thanks, man. And you’re always welcome to comment, whether I agree or not!

  6. scott Feb 16 20126:43 pm


    nice debate, Eric & Erik!

    my 2 1/2-cents… I started with a buck, but it’s tax season and well you know uncle sam… :(

    as of today I find it hard to believe the kings would get rid of Doughty so soon. Besides the obvious need for a goal scorer, there are other things we need to help this happen. One is for DD to come to camp in top shape and start taking things a lot more serious! He often looks like a kid playing roller hockey in his front yard just goofing around. He does love a good one-on-one challenge against top players, but he just doesn’t seem hungry enough to work hard enough to be a top NHL defensemen…YET. Once this happens we’ll see a very different Drew Doughty who is earning his money! Two other thing that stands out to me are… DL’s huge oversight of trading away our only two real front of the net presence we had, in Smyth & Simmonds, without replacing them. If you think Nash, or anyone else, is going to come in here and start lighting it up without someone in that goalies face, you’re crazy! With goalies as good as they are and collapsing defenses that block so many shots… well I think you get it. When’s the last time we got any number of rebound goals? They’re usually the kind we give up, why don’t we go work for them? I feel a lot of it honestly comes down to this. The other thing we could use, although I won’t hold my breath for this year, is a much more creative offensive system. Doesn’t seem like we get much/any SUSTAINED pressure anymore… a half-assed rush, a shot or two that miss the net (hello captain DB), then hustle back on D… Where’s the intensity? Why are we losing to last placed teams? Because we’re out-worked! Have these guys given up on the current system, whatever it is? As DL always says, we need the players we have to play better… YES, but easier said than done… I’d love to know what the guys REALLY think behind closed doors, not just the same ol’ same ol’ we hear after every game.
    So as much as I feel JJ works a lot harder than DD, I find it hard to believe the Kings will get rid of Drew for anything short of Gretzky in his prime.

    on a side note… forget Carter, they know he’s a cancer! They’re trying to make a move on Nash, now, before the deadline… we’ll see… I saw Patrick Kane’s name mentioned in a trade rumor stating the Blackhawks need for D, so I threw this out yesterday on twitter… Kane for JJ and Martinez! I don’t know if Kane’s really available but, as much as I love Nash and have felt they should have went after him the last two years, I’d rather do this than Nash for the whole farm!

    Sadly Penner has NO value, and the word is the guys don’t really care much for him anyways, so I like the thought of just dumping his salary and having it available to use on ?…

    Lokti has nice skills but is NOT ready to really add much… he still needs a couple of years…

    DO NOT trade Voynov!!!

    Is it true that we’re most likely gonna lose Mitchell after this year? Who takes his place? Muzzin? Why not?

    please lose Hunter & Westgarth immediately!!!

    Why is Kompon still there? My dog has more creativity with a tennis ball.

    Is DL gone if we don’t see at least the 2nd round?

    my untouchables..
    Voynov (yes you read this right) (you won’t HAVE to throw him in on a deal as there are other “pieces” that can be used… ie:Martinez, DD2. Voynov’s creativity is second only to Doughty’s and maybe JJ’s, do not let him escape. Trust me on this one!!!)

    oh so much more but I’ll stop here, lol…. glad I found your blog, Eric, thought you were just a comedian… wow, so many talents ;)

    until death… GKG!!!

    1. Erik Feb 17 201211:12 am


      Nice additional comments would love to get Kane! Just a question, if we miss the playoffs is that list still untouchable, IMO if we miss playoffs then I think everyone is on the chopping block from GM, Coach, to star players Kopi and Doughty

      1. Eric Cooney Feb 17 201212:06 pm


        Agreed. If the Kings miss the playoffs, i’d imagine pretty much everyone is at risk to go. I’m surprised at how much heat Brown and Kopitar escape, to be honest. For the captain of an offensively struggling team, Brown doesn’t catch too much heat. And people seem to shrug off Kopitar’s offensive struggles. That’s not to say either of them are ACTUALLY to blame, but I’m just surprised I don’t hear more clamoring for a new captain. I could see a scenario where Lieweke hits the reset button and finds a GM willing to rebuild around Richards. Personally I wouldn’t give up Kopitar for anything.

        1. scott Feb 22 20121:12 pm


          if we miss the playoffs…

          well you still need top guys to build around, so yea I’ll stick with my list, BUT “untouchable” is so touchable for the right price.

          Quick – you have one of the top goalies in the league, do you really risk having to search, possibly for many years, for that again? Even Bernier hasn’t proven anything.
          Kopi – has world class skills, size and plays D.
          Richards – I dare say we could use a few more guys with eastern conference tough-mentality-grit to them that also have great intangibles to their game!
          Doughty – This one’s really up to him. He can/should be a top-3 Norris candidate EVERY year, and I think he can, if he wants it bad enough! I’m not ready to give up on him yet.
          Voynov – okay, untouchable may be going a bit too far, but there’s enough there to keep me from thoughts of suicide in a few years should we lose him and he turns into what I think he will…

          re: Kopi & Richards… the tricky thing is we know how good these guys can be, but how do you get the most out of them? 1) I honestly think the entire coaching staff needs to go. We need a fresh and fun AND deadly serious winning at all cost mentality. I hate this “well we played good, but…” BS!!! Actions speak louder than words! Go get it done!!!

          My biggest fear is that if we don’t do it now, in the next 2-3 years, then by the time our top prospects are ready Quick, Kopi, etc, will be gone… Will we ever have enough pieces at once?

          I like DL and what he’s done (thank god we’re not bringing them in in the last year of their careers anymore), but didn’t he “sell” for so many years to stockpile picks for this time? Not just kids that can come up and make the team, but also futures to throw into deals to get guys like Nash, etc… (btw, after B.Richards shunned LA for NY, if Nash does the same I think it will look VERY bad around the league!).

          example: So what if we slightly overpay for Nash by adding Hickey in the deal to get it done, at least we got the guy we wanted and the Sharks didn’t… and Hickey?… so what?!!!


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