What's Broken (part 4a): Santa won't give us the big scorer we asked for!!

I guess maybe you can tell from the headline that my heart's not so much into arguing that it's all the fault of Dean Lombardi, who -- as the argument usually goes -- is just too conservative to pull the trigger on The Big Trade, pony up for Mr UFA, etc.. I don't believe it, but I will give it my best shot. 

A recap of what we've done so far: in part one, we identified the problem; in part two, I decided I would attempt to argue each of four (partially but not entirely mutually-exclusive) solutions, starting with blaming it all on the captain(s); in part three, I attempted to blame it all on the coach. Now, in part four, it's Lombardi's fault. 

So, without further ado, here's why we should blame Dean:

Everyone knows that to win a championship, you need scoring. Thus, the fierce competition for the handful of elite scorers that become available either through free-agency or trade. Yet, Dean Lombardi is batting a perfect 0.000 in bringing one of these coveted players to Los Angeles. Consider if you will this list of the 40 top goal scorers since the lock-out:

 

  10-11 09-10 08-09 07-08 06-07 05-06 TOT CUP?
Alex Ovechkin 32 50 56 65 46 52 301 no
Ilya Kovalchuk 31 41 43 52 42 52 261 no
Dany Heatley 26 39 39 41 50 50 245 no
Jarome Iginla 43 32 35 50 39 35 234 no
Eric Staal 33 29 40 38 30 45 215 2006
Sidney Crosby 32 51 33 24 36 39 215 2009
Vincent Lecavalier 25 24 29 40 52 35 205 2004
Patrick Marleau 37 44 38 19 32 34 204 no
Rick Nash 32 33 40 38 27 31 201 no
Marian Hossa 25 24 40 29 43 39 200 2010
Henrik Zetterberg 24 23 31 43 33 39 193 2008
Martin St. Louis 31 29 30 25 43 31 189 2004
Daniel Sedin 41 29 31 29 36 22 188 no
Marian Gaborik 22 42 13 42 30 38 187 no
Teemu Selanne 31 27 27 12 48 40 185 2007
Jeff Carter 36 33 46 29 14 23 181 no
Olli Jokinen 17 15 29 34 39 38 172 no
Daniel Alfredsson 14 20 24 40 29 43 170 no
Corey Perry 50 27 32 29 17 13 168 2007
Pavel Datsyuk 23 27 32 31 27 28 168 2008
Mike Knuble 24 29 27 29 24 34 167 1998
Alexander Semin 28 40 34 26 38   166 no
Jason Spezza 21 23 32 34 34 19 163 no
Mike Cammalleri 19 26 39 19 34 26 163 no
Simon Gagne 17 17 34 7 41 47 163 no
Zach Parise 3 38 45 32 31 14 163 no
Danny Briere 34 26 11 31 32 25 159 no
Evgeni Malkin 15 28 35 47 33   158 2009
Jason Arnott 17 19 33 28 27 32 156 2000
Patrick Sharp 34 25 26 36 20 14 155 2010
Shane Doan 20 18 31 28 27 30 154 no
Brad Boyes 17 14 33 43 17 26 150 no
Brian Rolston 14 20 15 31 31 34 145
Dustin Brown 28 24 24 33 17 14 140 no
Anze Kopitar 25 34 27 32 20 138 no
Joe Thornton 21 20 25 29 22 20 137 no
Alex Frolov 7 19 32 23 35 21 137 no
Brad Richards 28 24 16 20 25 23 136 no
Mike Richards 23 31 30 28 10 11 133 no

The first thing I invite you to do is shrink this chart so you can fit the whole thing on your screen. Then, kind of squint so you only see the field of colors, not so much the numbers and names. What do you see? A bunch of red, right? Those are all the seasons that those 40 highest goal scorers won cups. And if only Dean Lombardi had gotten us any of those guys, we would have w -- No, wait. My bad. Red means the team DIDN'T EVEN MAKE THE PLAYOFFS THAT YEAR. How can that be? All these high powered goal-scoring millionaires, and they're not even in the playoffs? Okay, then what color means they won a cup?

Blue.

You see any blue? It's in there. Nine times. Nine out of 240 little boxes. Even smaller is the number of players on this list who never missed the playoffs post-lockout. Six guys. Meanwhile, eleven of these scorers haven't gotten past the 1st round. 

The key is:

Blue = cup

Green = lost in finals

Eggplant = lost in 3rd round

Yellow = lost in 2nd round

Orange = lost in 1st round

Red = missed playoffs

Now, here are some of the same names, appearing on a list of the big UFA signings since 2007 (I didn't include players who re-signed with the same team; only players who signed with new ones). There are some omissions (e.g. Sheldon Souray) which I am correcting and updating as time allows. But this will do for now, because really I just wanted to highlight the signings that led to appearances in the cup finals. There are six of them. And two of those are Hossa. Another is Cristobal Huet, who has his name on the cup, but would still be high atop the list of UFA signing catastrophes. I had previously formatted this list so that everyone whose team missed the playoffs in the wake of the signing appeared in red, but it was too red. 

Just eyeballing the names here, you can see a lot of wasted money and albatross contracts. More than half are either total busts or signings by non-playoff teams. Of all the big name players Lombardi is rumored to have pursued, I think only Briere and Hossa made choices they would still make today. 

PLAYER TEAM YEAR CAP HIT
Marian Gaborik RANGERS 2009 $7,500,000.00
Marian Hossa RED WINGS 2008 $7,400,000.00
Scott Gomez RANGERS 2007 $7,360,000.00
Brian Campbell BLACKHAWKS 2008 $7,100,000.00
Chris Drury RANGERS 2007 $7,050,000.00
Jay Bouwmeester FLAMES 2009 $6,700,000.00
Ilya Kovalchuk DEVILS 2010 $6,660,000.00
Dan Boyle SHARKS 2008 $6,600,000.00
Daniel Briere FLYERS 2007 $6,500,000.00
Ryan Smyth AVALANCHE 2007 $6,250,000.00
Mike Cammalleri CANADIENS 2009 $6,000,000.00
Brian Rafalski RED WINGS 2007 $6,000,000.00
Paul Kariya BLUES 2007 $6,000,000.00
Cristobal Huet BLACKHAWKS 2008 $5,600,000.00
Marian Hossa BLACKHAWKS 2009 $5,230,000.00
Brian Rolston DEVILS 2008 $5,060,000.00
Martin Havlat WILD 2009 $5,000,000.00
Brian Gionta CANADIENS 2009 $5,000,000.00
Alex Kovalev SENATORS 2009 $5,000,000.00
Michal Rozsival RANGERS 2008 $5,000,000.00
Rob Blake SHARKS 2008 $5,000,000.00
Kristian Huselius BLUE JACKETS 2008 $4,750,000.00
Mike Komisarek MAPLE LEAFS 2009 $4,500,000.00
Jose Theodore CAPITALS 2008 $4,500,000.00
Ron Hainsey THRASHERS 2008 $4,500,000.00
Anton Volchenkov DEVILS 2010 $4,250,000.00
David Booth PANTHERS 2009 $4,250,000.00
Mark Streit ISLANDERS 2008 $4,100,000.00
Nik Antropov THRASHERS 2009 $4,000,000.00
Michael Ryder BRUINS 2008 $4,000,000.00
Pavol Demitra CANUCKS 2008 $4,000,000.00
Michal Handzus KINGS 2007 $4,000,000.00
Sean Avery STARS 2008 $3,900,000.00
Jaroslav Spacek CANADIENS 2009 $3,830,000.00
Francois Beauchemin MAPLE LEAFS 2009 $3,800,000.00
Mattias Ohlund LIGHTNING 2009 $3,750,000.00
Nikolai Khabibulin OILERS 2009 $3,750,000.00
R.J. Umberger BLUE JACKETS 2008 $3,750,000.00
Mike Commodore BLUE JACKETS 2008 $3,700,000.00
Willie Mitchell KINGS 2010 $3,500,000.00
Jeff Finger MAPLE LEAFS 2008 $3,500,000.00
Cory Stillman PANTHERS 2008 $3,500,000.00
Rob Scuderi KINGS 2009 $3,400,000.00
Henrik Tallinder DEVILS 2010 $3,250,000.00
Alexei Ponikarovsky KINGS 2010 $3,250,000.00
Todd Fedoruk COYOTES 2008 $3,175,000.00
Ray Whitney COYOTES 2010 $3,000,000.00
Alex Frolov RANGERS 2010 $3,000,000.00
Brendan Witt ISLANDERS 2008 $3,000,000.00

If you think the Blackhawks proved the value of splurging on UFAs, I would just point out that they had the same three players this season and barely squeaked into the playoffs. Why? Because of the lack of depth forced on them by signing those three guys at those prices. I just see no evidence at all that breaking the bank helps you at all.

There is also the argument that Lombardi has put too much emphasis on stockpiling prospects and is not willing to deal them to bring in that one high-octane forward. This is the "Hickey, Schenn, Loktionov and Bernier for Malkin" argument. I almost didn't address this subset of the anti-Lombardi diatribe because (1) people don't trade superstars in their prime for a package of prospects, and (2) even if they did, the Kings couldn't add a $6-7MM contract without giving equal cap value back, because of what's about to happen this summer with the Doughty RFA extension (yes, the Kings will be more or less at the ceiling). Therefore the only way Lombardi brings in a superstar in trade  -- e.g. Zach Parise -- is if he's willing to deal two of Brown, Williams, et al, plus sundry prospects and picks -- and fans seem reluctant to suggest that kind of thing. They want to add to their hockey cards, not subtract. 

However.

I do think there's one interesting argument to be made in pinning it all on DL, but it has nothing to do with UFAs. It has to do with the two biggest trades Lombardi has made as Kings GM. 

And that's what we will cover in part 4b...

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