Dustin Brown to Atlanta as part of a deal for Kovalchuk? Ain’t happenin’. Brown’s their captain, part of the corps of young talent around which management has rebuilt the Kings, he’s among their leading scorers and one of their best physical players, plus they’ve got him signed to an affordable $3.175 million per season for the next four years. The Kings won’t move him.
Spector is possibly the most sane and reliable hockey writer out there. I respect him and look forward to everything he has to say on every hockey topic. He is a compass that points me out of the woods of many a crackpot idea. However, I have to say that every point he makes in favor of Lombardi keeping Brown is just as persuasive as an argument for moving him. As I have said a few times lately, he has a very high trade value, especially now with being named an alt-c on Team USA, and his affordable contract (especially-especially in my mind) is cat-nip to GMs.
I'm not advocating trading Brown. I would prefer that he start playing like the 30-goal-scoring 1st/2nd line RW he is supposed to be, as opposed to the excellent but over-paid 3rd line "energy" guy working on his second season of underperformance. Also, I happen to think he's not a good captain.
And he's not a Lombardi pick. I know some people think I'm making too much of this last point. And I might well end up disagreeing with myself. But I just don't think Lombardi is all that married to keeping Dustin Brown around for the next five years if he's not going to play like the top-six forward he is paid to be.
Also, if I look at the list of prospects getting ready to make the jump next fall (and yes I understand you can't promote them all at once and they all won't pan out, etc.), you've got Schenn, Clifford, Moller, Clune and Loktionov, and if I were to bet, I would say three of those guys will make the opening night roster. Add that to Kopitar, Smyth, Stoll, Brown, Handzus, Williams, Simmonds, Richardson, Parse, Frolov...that's 14 names with no enforcer mentioned (maybe we finally lose Ivanans?).
Richardson? Loktionov? Segal? Clune?
My reasoning is, I think the third line (Handzus) is possibly the best third line in the league (of course, I'm a homer). Let's just say it's very solid and reliable and can score. A fourth line of Clifford/Schenn/Segal-Clune comes pretty close to the Lombardi/Murray ass-kicking ideal, and would still score some goals. Therefore, goodbye Raitis. The first two lines -- with most of the expensive players, you've got six guys with Moller and Loktionov waiting in the wings.
Stoll, with his superior shot and his face-off ability, is arguably more valuable than Brown. And of course Lombardi specifically sought him out, using one of Taylor's picks (whom Lombardi had just signed to a big deal) to get him. So the idea that he would use another one of Taylor's picks whom he just signed to a big deal to snag another crucial piece of the puzzle is by no means unthinkable.
I'm not saying it will happen. I'm saying it's possible and it fits with the pattern more than people seem to think. Lombardi also dealt Norstrom and low-balled Blake out of town. So much for the sacredness of the captain's "C."
(p.s. I love the Norstrom trade, having gotten us Moller, Wudrick and a piece of Teubert. And Blake, I would just as soon he never came back after 2001.)
Plus, really, consider this line-up:
Loktionov, Moller, Segal and Clune can all come and go from Manchester with impunity. If Lombardi moves Frolov and Brown for Kovalchuk, that's a win-win. Atlanta will get enough fire-power to satisfy their fans. The Kings will fill a major need and will replace Brown's hitting with Clifford and Schenn. And I think you can make a pretty solid argument that Clifford and Schenn were drafted to do exactly what Brown does, only more so. And they're Lombardi's picks.
Call me crazy. But I don't see it as internet "crack-pottery" at all.