As much as I like Wayne Simmonds, Brayden Schenn and Jack Johnson, how can you not make that trade? And, if you look at today's deal and last summer's deal as one protracted mega-blockbuster, who in the world thought a year ago that the Kings could pry Mike Richards or Jeff Carter from the Flyers, to say nothing of BOTH OF THEM?
I love Wayne Simmonds. I was mocked going back two or three years for suggesting that Simmonds could turn into a 30 goal-scorer. I am thrilled for him that he's getting his time to shine in Philly. But, unless you think Lombardi was going to move Justin Williams or Dustin Brown to make room for Wayne, he just wasn't ever going to get the kind of ice-time he's getting in Philly now.
Brayden Schenn. He's awesome. But he's a kid. And he's a center. Maybe in five years Kopitar/Schenn/Loktionov down the middle would be better than Kopitar/Richards/Loktionov. But in the mean time, we've got five years of Mike Richards and at that point Richards will be only 31 and is still likely to be pretty f-ing good.
My Twitter feed has exploded with tweets from (seemingly quite young) women wanting to spit on Dean Lombardi and/or are threatening to "bandwagon" some other team because how how HOW could the Kings trade Jack Johnson. One tweet was upset that Lombardi dealt JJ instead of Drew Doughty. The consensus seems to be that JJ had a Kings tattoo on his ass (at Lombardi's request) and that trading him is a kind of betrayal.
The fact is, as I have pointed out many, many times over the last year or so: Drew Doughty, Jack Johnson, Alec Martinez, Slava Voynov, Thomas Hickey and Nicolas Deslauriers are all offensive-minded, mobile, speedy, mid-sized d-men with varying degrees of edge (Doughty, Johnson and Deslauriers being on the nastier side) and varying degrees of defensive ability (Johnson and Deslauriers being a little less responsible than the others). Deslauriers is the youngest and the farthest away (and also the most like JJ, in my opinion). Hickey appears (again, to me) to be finally coming around. But the others, Doughty, Johnson, Voynov and Martinez, are good to go now -- and going forward there really isn't room for all of them. Just as Doughty made Lubomir Visnovsky expendable, so the rise of Voynov made JJ expendable. There is a lot to love about Jack Johnson. And I went to Michigan, so I do feel bad about him having to play in Columbus. But this bridge was going to have to be crossed at some point, and a choice was going to have to be made. One of Doughty, Johnson and Voynov was going to have to go, just as one of Martinez and Hickey will have to go at some future point.
Moving JJ now is just good management. I don't really believe Dean Lombardi when he suggests that this trade is one he was (in type) looking to do anyway, as he knew the Kings were still a player away. I'm quite sure that if Penner had 20 goals and Gagne wasn't injured, if the Kings weren't currently on pace to be one of the worst offensive teams in the last half-century, JJ would still be a King. So (I am looking at you, Twitter contingent) if you're looking for someone to blame for Jack's departure, look no further than the forwards who were/are supposed to be putting the puck in the net.
I had the pleasure of listening to Craig Button (or as I will now consider calling him, Moron Craig Button) weigh in on the trade on NHL On the Fly (or whatever it's called now). He actually said that the Kings don't have enough good defensemen and this is their actual real problem. They traded Visnovsky, and now Johnson. What is Lombardi thinking?
Lombardi is thinking: Voynov was my best defenseman in many games this season. He has the same skill-set as Johnson, only he's slightly less mean and slightly more fast (and he's $4MM cheaper, and he's better defensively).
And this Jeff Carter fellow? He's a sniper. He averages .392 goals per game. (Kopitar averages .341.) Carter has taken 1790 shots since 2005, 3.58 per game, 500 games. (Kopitar takes 2.85 shots per game, 1294 shots in 454 games). No, I'm not saying Carter is better than Kopitar. I'm just saying he shoots more and scores more.
And even if he is a bad person or a pulsating dickhead, I don't think I really care. I am reminded of this quote from Mark Yannetti, the Director of Amateur Scouting for the Los Angeles Kings:
QUESTION: [Beyond] viewing and judging talent [...] what [do] scouts do that people may not realize?:
[YANNETTI:] Judging character…and not just the good old all-american boy whom you’d want your daughter to marry. Many times the things that make you a fierce competitor, single-minded and, especially, a winner, are not the traits of a good citizen. [...S]ome of the players I’d want in the playoffs would not pass people’s or society's test. it's all about figuring out which flaws can be overcome and which cannot be overcome – and which you can live with.
So, yesterday, the Kings had JJ. Tomorrow, they will have Voynov and Carter. Is that better? Um, yes it is.