It's only been a month and a half since the Los Angeles Kings acquired a forward and a defenseman from the Philadelphia Flyers. Vincent Lecavalier and Luke Schenn have arguably exceeded expectations since they arrived on January 6, but after a tumultuous couple of weeks, the Kings are right back where they were: looking to upgrade up front and on the back line.
LA isn't shy about rentals, and they're now on a four-year run of picking up a soon-to-be-free-agent at the trade deadline. Two of them worked beautifully, while the other two were good moves depending on who you ask and mistakes depending on who's yelling about them. (For polar opposite reasons, of course.) For the last couple weeks it has seemed like a foregone conclusion that the Kings would go after a defenseman, and we covered both the reasons why they should and the reasons why they shouldn't.
When Marian Gaborik got hurt, though, Dean Lombardi saw a silver lining. With the team in much better playoff position than at this point last year, there's no point in rushing back a player who the Kings are "hoping" will be ready for the postseason. So Gaborik, who's on injured reserve, can go on Long-Term Injured Reserve until the playoffs. Boom: $4.875 million of additional cap space. Now the Kings, who were hoping to squeeze a d-man under the cap, have room for a forward as well. And by all indications, they're gonna try and get one. From Elliotte Friedman's latest "30 Thoughts" column:
In preparing for "Headlines" last weekend, I asked which teams were most insistent about adding pieces. When it came to forwards, the teams mentioned most often were Chicago, Florida, Los Angeles and the Islanders.
On defence, it was Los Angeles, Montreal, Pittsburgh, San Jose and Tampa Bay.
So now we get to flip our focus, because $4.875 million is more than enough for the best available rentals to come to LA. We'll be giving you a full rundown of each of the following players tomorrow, plus some bonuses, but here are four big names who have been directly tied to the Kings by reputable sources.
Andrew Ladd ($4.4 mil): The unquestioned crown jewel of the deadline class, because he's almost certain to get dealt and because he's a captain with a history of goal-scoring. He'd check all of Dean's boxes. (TSN and a bunch of others)
Mikkel Boedker ($3.75 mil): You know, that annoyingly fast left winger, who's one of four players with multiple hat tricks this year but the only one of those four who's been on the ice for a bazillion goals against? Him. (ESPN, via LA Kings Insider)
Loui Eriksson ($4.25 mil): 23 goals this year. Could a return to the Western Conference make him re-underrated? (Sports Illustrated)
Teddy Purcell ($4.5 mil): Expensive, but cited by Craig Custance as an alternative who LA can target without paying a king's ransom. Boy, there's a pun no one has used before. (ESPN, via LA Kings Insider)
And here are four other names who are wingers, are available, and might fit though the Kings may not be actively seeking to acquire them.
Dale Weise ($1.025 mil): Montreal's plunge in the standings has made them surprising sellers, and Weise is inexpensive.
P.A. Parenteau ($1.5 mil): Ditto, except Toronto was bad the whole time.
Jiri Hudler ($4 mil): He's not shooting 20% this season, which means he's available at a more reasonable price than expected.
Jamie McGinn ($2.95 mil): Buffalo's already started selling. Like Weise, he's having a career year.
Tomorrow and Thursday, we round up each guy and tell you what it might take to land them as LA's 2016 Trade Deadline Guaranteed Stanley Cup-Winning Rental. For now, vote on which one you'd like to see in black and white, keeping in mind what you might have to pay to get them.