Wednesday, March 4, 2009
Last Friday, I wrote about my beloved Los Angeles Kings and the looming trade deadline. They had three games to play until then and a lot of questions to be answered. Unfortunately, they lost all three games, pretty much putting a kibosh on any hope of a playoff appearance this season.
Today’s trade deadline was actually a little busier than I expected, starting with the re-signing of Sean O’Donnell to a one-year deal. I fully expected O’Donnell to be retained, as he’s been a great mentor to the young Kings defense. With the possibility of Thomas Hickey, Vyacheslav Voinov, or Colten Teubert joining the big club next season, a veteran defenseman like O’Donnell will be a big plus.
A mere hour or so after the O’Donnell contract was announced, the Kings locked down goalie Erik Ersberg to a two-year deal. The contract isn’t for a whole lot of money, and it really seems to be more of an insurance policy than anything. If training camp hits and a couple of the Kings’ young goalie prospects don’t show improvement, Ersberg is still in play. If those young goalies take the job in camp, Ersberg becomes a tradable asset.
And as for the Tom Preissing problem? Put on waivers, cleared, and sent down to Manchester. What happens now is really up to Preissing, I suppose. If he wakes back up in Manchester, he’ll be an option in training camp this summer. Otherwise, he could be bought out, waived again, or traded.
And that was just about it for the trade deadline. The Kings hadn’t made any trades or further roster moves. Shortly after the deadline, however, word began to trickle out that the Kings had traded Patrick O’Sullivan just before noon. When the dust settled, I was rather shocked to find that we’d been part of a big three-team swap.
We lost O’Sullivan and a 2nd round draft pick. Sully’s an Oiler now, which should be loads of fun the next time we play the Oil. Who did we get? Justin Williams, late of the Carolina Hurricanes. Williams is a former 30-goal scorer who’s known for his great two-way play at forward and leadership in the locker room. He also has a Stanley Cup from his time with Hurricanes. And, oh yeah, he’s barely played the last two seasons due to a series of injuries.
Williams is a former 1st round pick by the Philadelphia Flyers, which explains Kings GM Dean Lombardi’s interest in him. The Kings are stocked with former Flyers players and management-types, so Williams isn’t an unknown quantity. Yet, there is a definite element of risk in acquiring him. It’s been a few years since he’s been a regular player in the NHL, so if he returns and doesn’t play up to expectations, it’ll be egg all over Lombardi’s face.
Ultimately, the rest of this season is a wash. The kids will get loads of playing time over the next month and it’ll be back to the drawing board this spring. We’ll get a top-10 draft pick and maybe get lucky in free agency. Once again, hope springs eternally for Kings fans.