Friday, February 27, 2009
Kings And The Trade Deadline
The NHL’s trade deadline is Wednesday and the Los Angeles Kings find themselves four points out of a playoff spot. Before the deadline, the team play three games against Detroit, Chicago, and Columbus. Those three games will go a long way towards deciding whether the Kings are buyers or sellers at the deadline.
A good trio of games with, say, four to six points earned over that span will likely result in the Kings either staying pat Wednesday or making a few minor moves to improve the team. Rich Hammond over at Inside The Kings has referenced the team’s great chemistry more than a few times this season, so it’s unlikely that GM Dean Lombardi would want to upset that chemistry much.
If things don’t go so well over the next three games and the Kings find themselves falling out of the playoff picture, I wouldn’t expect any major moves either. If anything, the Kings will attempt divest themselves of pending UFA’s:
* Erik Ersberg-Ersberg’s season has been marred by a few injuries and a lack of playing time with the rise of goalie Jonathan Quick. Regardless, he’d be the biggest target for prospective teams. If the Kings trade Ersberg, expect Quick to get the lion’s share of the work the rest of the season with Daniel Taylor or Jonathan Bernier backing him up.
* Denis Gauthier-Gauthier is definitely not in the Kings’ long-term plans, so it would be wise to get something for him while they still can. What that something will be is up to debate. In all likelihood, it’ll be a very low draft pick. Gauthier is a sparkplug on defense and a big hitter, but his tendencies towards head hits make him a referee’s target and a frequently suspended villain of the league.
* Derek Armstrong-Armstrong is probably less-likely to be traded than Ersberg or Gauthier, simply for chemistry’s sake. Armstrong is a popular locker room guy and, regardless, wouldn’t attract much interest on the trade market.
Kyle Calder and Sean O’Donnell are also UFA’s, but I’d be genuinely surprised to see the Kings get rid of them. Calder, despite his lack of offensive skills, has proven to be a steady, gritty winger capable of being the hardest working guy on the ice on a nightly basis. It wouldn’t surprise me in the least to see him get a new contract, albeit for a lot less than his current 2.7 mil cap hit.
O’Donnell’s acquisition earlier this season from the Ducks, as you might recall, came with a provision: If the Kings trade him, they owe the Ducks a 3rd round pick. So, the only way I see O’Donnell being traded is if another team offers a 1st or high 2nd round pick as compensation. And that just seems an unlikely scenario in the twilight of O’Donnell’s career.
There’s also the Tom Preissing problem that needs to be addressed. He has two years remaining on his contract, at a cap hit of 2.75 mil each. He’s been in two consecutive head coaches’ doghouses and it’s long overdue to send him packing. The guy deserves a shot to play somewhere and it really seems like LA is not that place. He needs to play somewhere with a more wide-open offensive game.
Thus, this weekend is of vast importance to the Kings. Is it playoff time or yet another year of placing a call to Manchester and letting the kids play with the big boys for the rest of the year? Either way, Wednesday’s trade deadline will be an interesting one.