I read somewhere that Lombardi's comments on the trade deadline were a bunch of non-answers. I disagree.
LOMBARDI: "[...] There’s two things that can happen. One, obviously, is a team just strictly downsizing, like we did five years ago, and just saying, 'Let’s get picks.' Secondly, you might have a philosophical change and just say, 'It’s not a downsizing, per se, but we want a change to change the structure of our roster.'
This is of course, precisely, what the Kings are facing now. Not only because they have too many of a certain type of forward and no snipers, but because the wealth is on the blue line and (sort of) in goal.
[...] [M]ore teams realize what they have or don’t have. They take into consideration how many injuries they have, and say, `If we get guys back, we’re OK,’ or they say, `We’ve got to look at upgrading our back end.’ [...]
If we make a list of teams that need help on defense, we could probably narrow down the options pretty quickly.
"The question about the rentals is just the price. If you look back, and you take all the deadline deals — just look at them and line them up — you’ve got all kinds of juice on deadline day, but how many of them have really effected the team? There’s this perception of all this juice and action, then you look at what really happens. Last year, arguably, we got one of the top players. How many players had average 25 goals? That was, `Wow, that was a big deal.’ In terms of the rentals, that’s always going to be there. As a practical matter, we don’t have a second and a third (round draft picks). Manchester is still a very young team, but you always have to be cognizant that (new) guys are coming through.’’
To me, that says he is not inclined to rent, unless of course that rental is very special.
Question: So, as you look at it, it’s still a matter of finding the right fit?
LOMBARDI: "It’s being cognizant of knowing what we’ve got coming and knowing what we’ve got now. It’s knowing [...] who is going to help this team next year, and making (a potential move) fit with that."
I think this is the money quote. "...who is going to help the team next year..." Who is he referring to? We don't really know what he thought of the prospects in Manchester when he saw them this past week. But it's safe to say he's evaluating the following players:
- Linden Vey -- started slow, but has put up near the best if not the best numbers on the team since Loktionov was called up. He leads the Monarchs in goals at even strength (12). Vey just cracked the top 20 AHL rookies in points. (13 goals, 13 assists, +1)
- Brandon Kozun -- also started slow, if memory serves, but is scoring now. Not as defensively solid as Vey. Not getting any taller. (12 goals, 17 assists, -7)
- Thomas Hickey -- Manchester's plus/minus leader (+13) and is 14th on the list league-wide.
- Jordan Nolan -- second among Monarchs forwards (behind only Cliche) in plus/minus at +6. 4th line next year, with Kyle Clifford and Colin Fraser? I hope so.
- Marc-Andre Cliche -- leads the Monarchs in points, leads forwards in plus/minus, fifth in the league in game-winning goals (he has 5; tops is 6); could replace Trevor Lewis or Brad Richardson ( but -- well -- so what?)
- (Nicolas Deslauriers) -- hopefully will mature into the heir to the Doughty/Johnson/Voynov dynasty. Coming around lately, but isn't going to be ready next year, if he follows the Hickey/Voynov development model.
Question: But how patient can you afford to be? What if the only real option is a player who doesn’t necessarily "fit’’ with other things?
LOMBARDI: "I don’t have a problem with that. But as far as what’s out there, it’s like I said. There are probably seven or eight out there, but out of them, the ones that will be there as rentals, one of them will probably hit. Those are usually the ones that go to a really good team and don’t have to carry the mail.’’
In other words, Zach Parise (or whoever) will be a Red Wing (or Penguin, or...). But what I think is really interesting about that quote is that when Lombardi is talking about "a really good team" he's not referring to the Kings.