The good: In terms of drafting the development of young players, Lombardi’s tenure has been a success. He has brought in players such as Drew Doughty, Alec Martinez, Jonathan Bernier, Kyle Clifford, Trevor Lewis and Oscar Moller, as well as developing players such as Anze Kopitar and Jonathan Quick (picks made late in the Dave Taylor era) and Jack Johnson.
Lombardi traded for Johnson,
I don't know why Wayne Simmonds is left off the list of players Lombardi has "brought in." He's also done remarkably well with non-1st round picks; in addition to Moller and Simmonds (both 2nd round), there's Voynov (2nd round), Loktionov (5th round), Maxim Kitsyn (7th round), Linden Vey (4th) and Tyler Toffoli (2nd). Yes, I know those prospects have not graduated to the NHL and anything is possible, I also know that having so many potential steals in later rounds is unusual.
In essence, Lombardi is doing exactly what he said he would, rebuild the team from the back end first. The Kings’ goaltending and defense is fully constructed and would appear to be in strong shape for years to come, and players such as Brayden Schenn and Andrei Loktionov appear ready to boost the forward ranks.
Another thing deserves mention, I think, and that's the number of undrafted UFA signings Lombardi has made. Martin Jones, Jake Muzzin, Peter Harrold, Davis Drewiske, Kevin Westgarth -- those last three guys being pretty useful pieces -- and two other excellent undrafted UFAs Lombardi signed, Teddy Purcell and Matt Moulson. (Don't get me started...)
The bad: Over the past five years, Lombardi has done little to change the "book" on him, that he’s great at drafting and developing but shaky in terms of trades and free agents. To be certain, acquisitions such as Justin Williams, Michal Handzus, Willie Mitchell, Rob Scuderi and Matt Greene have proven to be solid. So are Jarret Stoll and Ryan Smyth, but they’re also being paid a large amount of money for secondary roles.
Ryan Smyth cost us a little more than $3MM a year, because we gave them Tom Preissing. By the way, I just realized that Preissing's contract is done only now. We would still be paying that guy.
Anyway, my point is that the Smyth overpayment is actually underpayment. But, to be fair, you then have to mention the Preissing signing as one of the big busts, along with Nagy, and the Cloutier trade.
[...] Then there’s Dustin Penner. Unless Penner turns things around next season, the most significant trade of the Lombardi era is going to go down as a flop.
Here's how I would rank Lombardi's most significant trades:
- Tim Gleason and Eric Belanger for Jack Johnson.
- Lubomir Visnovsky for Jarret Stoll and Matt Greene.
- Patrick O'Sullivan and a 2nd for Justin Williams.
- Brent Sopel for a 2nd and a 4th, the 2nd being used to select Wayne Simmonds.
- Kyle Quincey and Tom Preissing for Ryan Smyth.
- Pavol Demitra for Patrick O'Sullivan and the Wild's 1st round pick, used to select Trevor Lewis.
- Mattias Norstrom for a bunch of stuff including a 2nd, used to select Oscar Moller.
- Trading up to select Alec Martinez.
- Trading up to select Tyler Toffoli.
- Trading up to select Maxim Kitsyn.
- Trading up to select Derek Forbort.
- 2nd round pick for Brad Richardson.
- Colten Teubert and a 1st for Dustin Penner.
- The last pick in the entire 2010 draft if the Kings win the cup for Fredrik Modin.
- Nothing for Sean O'Donnell.
Going forward: When does it all pay off? The 2011-12 season will be Lombardi’s sixth season, and while back-to-back playoff appearances certainly constitutes progress, more is expected than sixth- or seventh-place finishes in the Western Conference and first-round playoff losses.
Not having to watch a parade of creaky former stars collecting inflated paychecks for half-assed work (e.g. Fuhr, Carter, Roenick, Ronning, Stevens, Parrish, Heinze...) is its own pay-off.
To be certain, Lombardi understands this. In order for the Kings to take another step forward, some of Lombardi’s prospects at forward must start to contribute at the NHL level
Moller is 22. Loktionov is 20. Toffoli and Schenn are 19. As I will be arguing in my next post, Pavel Datsyuk didn't score his first NHL goal till he was 23. And how exactly are the prospects supposed to contribute when there are no top six openings? I don't think the clock even starts ticking for those guys until Smyth and Stoll are gone and they've had a full season with the team. In other words, the "last shot to prove yourself" comments are about two years premature.
Other graduates of the "must start to contribute or else" club: Teddy Purcell, Matt Moulson, Brian Boyle. That's about 90 goals and maybe a cup ring.
-- the Penner trade must work out and, perhaps, Lombardi must make another move for scoring help.
Greene, Stoll and Hickey for Parise.
But I don't really agree with Rich's "must" in that sentence. I think, in order to take another step forward, they have to do what I said they needed to do 8 months ago: play with consistency over the entire sweep of the season and playoffs. They not only did not do this, but they gave us even more of a roller-coaster than 2009-2010. I'm pretty sure I think that's a coaching issue. But that's another conversation.