Trade Deadline, part two: who should the Kings target?



In part one, I looked at the Kings reserve list and, to sum it up, decided that Jarret Stoll, Jack Johnson, Jonathan Bernier and Alec Martinez are the most eligible bachelors if the Kings are going to make a big splash in the next few weeks before the trade deadline. This is, of course, highly debatable. My own reasoning is in that previous post, but we can all debate it still in the comments here. Today, I want to start looking at potential targets. Yes, there's Zach Parise, and we'll get to him eventually. But, as the Blue Jackets are today's opponents, I thought we would start there.

People seem to think Jeff Carter is or ought to be on the move. Certainly, that trade is looking worse and worse in terms of public perception, and with the Blue Jackets' season in the toilet, it's no surprise his name is getting mentioned. The argument in favor of dealing for Carter is (1) he can fill the net with pucks, (2) his cap hit is reasonable, and (3) his value is at an all-time low, so he may be had for a relatively-low cost. Bonus (4): he's an ex-Flyer. The argument against is (1) he's injured (this could be in the other column, per the usual joke about Dean Lombardi liking to trade for injured players), (2) he may be locker-room poison, (3) he may be a bad influence on the Kings' kids, (4) he has behaved badly since being traded to Columbus, and (5) his contract expires a million years from now. Also, (6), trading for Carter essentially means that the Kings are not going to be able to acquire anybody else of that caliber this summer as our noses would be pressed flat against the cap ceiling (even after moving big salary the other way to bring him in). Oops, and (7): he has a no-move clause, so he would be very hard to shake once he's entered the bloodstream.

I am not opposed to dealing for Carter, under certain circumstances. Lombardi actually has a pretty good track record in his instincts regarding wounded players. Justin Williams was worth it (giving up Patrick O'Sullivan). Simon Gagne cost us nothing but cap space, space which is now freed up as long as Gagne doesn't suddenly become healthy the day after Lombardi uses his cap space to bring in someone else. Michal Handzus had one bad year while recovering from knee surgery and then was nothing less than the hub of the team defense for two years. Wait, three years. Alyn MacAuley (sp?) didn't work out, but didn't cost us anything either. Willie Mitchell has been a huge signing. Marco Sturm, well, that was just weird, but we got him for literally nothing and lost him to waivers, so I'm not too broken up about it. Bottom line: if Lombardi wants to take the Carter plunge, as far as evaluating his injury status, I will play along.

But I seriously doubt Lombardi will be able to overcome his aversion to players who might be a bad influence on his youthful core. If he didn't want Dany Heatley, why would he want Carter and his carousing and pouting and whatever else? If he had a couple of years left on his deal and didn't have a no-move, I could see Lombardi being willing to part with some mid-level assets to bring him in. But ten years is a long time to be saddled with a problem contract.

As I said in the comments of another blog yesterday, it's impossible for me (on the outside) to know exactly how toxic Carter's contract is right now, or to gauge his health, or his real attitude...therefore, it's impossible to know what his actual value is. I think it's pretty likely that someone out there will eventually be willing to steal Jeff Carter for a song, and they may well benefit from a few 30-40 goal seasons and cause everyone else in the league to curse their existence because they didn't grab him when they had the chance. And it's easy to be tempted by a potential 40-goal-scoring sniper when your team couldn't possibly be more in need of exactly that.

Having said I'm not opposed to trading for Carter under certain circumstances, I now realize I'm not even sure what those circumstances would be. I guess I would have to have personal secret inside information that he's not the poison he's supposed to be, that he's really just misunderstood, that he hasn't suffered a catastrophic injury (shoulder separation being potentially devastating), and it would also help if every other GM in the league was so unwilling to part with assets that Lombardi were able to get Carter for pieces that are easy(-ish) for us to part with. Say, Stoll and Martinez. Under those circumstances, I'm okay with it.

But I'm more interested in the following:

Scott Howson, having made this horrible trade (bringing Carter in, I mean), and having watched his team crap out beyond every Blue Jackets fan's worst nightmare, may actually have no prospects of getting rid of this guy. I'm not sure about this, because there is always another desperate idiot willing to put the blinders on. But let's just look at the scenario in which Carter is in fact untradeable. If that's the case, GM Howson is doomed, isn't he? He has killed the season. He may have saddled the team with an albatross that will taint the next decade of Blue Jackets hockey. He may have no choice but to convince himself that Carter is actually a great guy and he just needs to ride out the storm.

Under these circumstances, could be be tempted to deal Rick Nash? Normally, I would say he would be insane to do so. But he may be insane. He may be desperate to keep his job. And one way to do that would be to deal Nash in such a way that it not only totally remakes the team and gives them hope for the future.

As good as Rick Nash is, his tenure in Columbus has not been chock full of successes. It's reasonable to wonder if the fans couldn't be won over by a blockbuster deal that was a game-changer, that actually gave the team hope for next season. Because the alternative is the prospect of $14MM tied up in two guys who have no chemistry.

So, what would the Kings have to part with to pry Nash from Howson? It ain't going to be Stoll and Martinez. Columbus needs a goalie. So let's just start with the idea that Jonathan Bernier is part of this package. I don't want to lose Bernier, but I also don't want him to whither on the vine. So let's pretend. Bernier, and who else?

I really don't see any other possibility than Jack Johnson. He's attractive trade bait. He's potentially a super-star. He's nowhere near his prime. It's enough salary to make it make sense to the Kings. He's not a rental. And the Kings can probably afford to lose him. Probably. Slava Voynov, etc..

Johnson and Bernier. Is that enough to make Howson say yes? Probably not. I actually think to make this happen, you have to make an offer that Howson says yes to before he can think about it. An "offer he can't refuse."

An example of that kind of offer would be Johnson, Bernier, Andrei Loktionov and a 1st. I would never stop crying. Same with swapping Tyler Toffoli for Loktionov in that deal. I would cry, but would I get over it, and would Howson bite? Not sure. He miiiiight. And we would be left with:

Nash - Anze Kopitar - Williams

Dustin Penner - Mike Richards - Dustin Brown

Brad Richardson - Stoll - Trevor Lewis

Kyle Clifford - Colin Fraser - Trent Hunter

Rob Scuderi - Drew Doughty

Mitchell - Voynov

Martinez - Matt Greene

Jonathan Quick

Jeff Zatkoff (maybe Steve Mason?)

I don't know. This looks okay for this year, sort of. But next year? Stoll and Penner are probably moving on. Re-signing Stoll as the third line center is kind of depressing, especially when compared to a fully operational Andrei Loktionov. What about the Toffoli variation? Does Howson go for that?

Again, maaaaybe. And then we have:

Nash - Kopitar - Williams

Penner - Richards - Brown

Stoll - Loktionov - Lewis

Clifford - Fraser - Richardson

Scuderi - Doughty

Mitchell - Voynov

Martinez - Greene

Quick

Zatkoff (Mason?)

I love Tyler Toffoli. Love. I think if we lose him we will have Matt Moulson times-two sized regret. But the roster above is a huge upgrade over what we have now. I just don't know if Johnson, Bernier and Toffoli would be enough.

But what about this:

Johnson, Brown and Bernier. That's quite possibly over-payment. I think that certainly qualifies as "an offer he can't refuse." I don't even know if I would want to do make that deal, from the Kings' point of view. But let's consider it anyway:

Nash - Kopitar - Williams

Penner - Richards - xx

Stoll - Loktionov - Lewis

Clifford - Fraser - Richardson

Scuderi - Doughty

Mitchell - Voynov

Martinez - Greene

Quick

Zatkoff (Mason?)

I don't know who to put in Brown's place. I can see believing in Toffoli to such a degree that you think he can step in next year as RW2. That's a gamble. But I can see it. And if (another gamble) Gagne comes back healthy next year, that could be a huge upgrade of firepower over the current line-up.

Nash - Kopitar - Williams

Gagne? - Richards - Toffoli?

Lewis - Loktionov - Oscar Moller?

Clifford - Fraser - Jordan Nolan?

That's a lot of question marks. And the team without Brown suddenly gets smaller, even with the addition of Nash. I don't know. Maybe Johnson, Bernier and Toffoli is the better move. Either way, I will cry, and there would be much gnashing of teeth. Hey, "gnashing" of teeth. Is that a pun people have made before? Probably.

Seems like a good place to throw it open for discussion. What do you think?

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