Keep the band together that won the Stanley Cup, or make some changes to keep fresh?
That's a unique choice the Kings have in front of them, thanks to player loyalty and Lombardi's cap management.
Usually, Cup-winning teams lose a face or two in the offseason. But every roster player who was an unrestricted free agent re-signed with the Kings, even though they likely could have made more on the open market.
This tidbit from Elliotte Friedman caught my eye:
Multiple reports the Stanley Cup winners are looking at Doan, too. Get the sense Dean Lombardi is one of those guys who believes it's not a good idea for a champion to come back intact. It's hard enough to repeat without being a little stale.
How much does this reflect what Lombardi is actually thinking, though? So far, we know two things:
1. Lombardi put in offers for Zach Parise and Shane Doan.
2. Every other move has been to keep the 2012 Cup winning team intact.
Given fact #2, I don't think Lombardi is terribly worried about the danger of getting stale. Keeping this team together would not be a bad thing. Just look at how many young players have room for growth -- and how many veterans are due for a correction in scoring.
What to make of their pursuit of free agents, then? The general feeling we've been getting from the press is that although Lombardi made an offer on Parise, he had a low expectation of landing him. This would fit with his general principles of cap management. He values centers and defensemen over wingers -- would he have offered Parise a contract that had a higher cap hit than Doughty or Kopitar? I doubt it. Still, he had to try.
Doan is the second target. Although no one is sure if he will leave Phoenix, the Kings were reportedly the first among six bids. If I had to wager, I'd say they offered a reasonable contract in the hopes that he wanted to play for a contender close to his family's base in Phoenix. As much as they admire Doan, I don't think they'll get caught up in a crazy bidding war. The risk changes when he's over 35.
But let's entertain the idea that he might want to change. A good GM will seek out any way to improve his team.
Let's throw it open to discussion. What kind of trade would you make?
The Kings don't have areas of pressing need, but even strength scoring from the third line is a concern. I'd target a scoring winger to upgrade their overall depth.
What pieces would be in play? I see three possibilities:
- Jonathan Bernier -- Columbus and Toronto are apparently interested, though it seems like the Kings would likely get picks and prospects over roster players. Matt Frattin, a 24 year old winger who has played a bit in the NHL, has come up as a possible target.
- Young defense prospects: Jake Muzzin, Andrew Campbell, and Thomas Hickey all seem like they're due for a shot at the NHL sometime soon, but where can the Kings possibly fit them all? Given that a former seventh defenseman for LA, Peter Harrold, was trusted enough to play 17 playoff games for the Devils, there seems to be a need for PMD. However, they would likely garner prospects as well.
- A current roster player -- this would be more drastic, but most likely to bring a roster player back in return.
Play armchair GM. Supposing the Kings want to change things up, who would you trade? Who would you target in return?