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Everything is Terrible: Kings Trade for Dion Phaneuf

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This isn’t what we meant when we asked for a Senators defenseman.

Los Angeles Kings v Carolina Hurricanes Photo by Gregg Forwerck/NHLI via Getty Images

In the middle of the third period, when the Los Angeles Kings were handily losing to Cam Ward and the team with the worst average save percentage in the National Hockey League, some terrible news came down the pipeline.

Initial reactions to this: what the fuck? Why? Fire Rob Blake. No, really, fire Rob Blake. WHY?! WHAT THE ACTUAL FUCK? This is like the worst actual trade you can make and still call it a trade.

Second takes: Okay, maybe it’s not so bad? Maybe somehow the trade won’t actually happen because the game is still going on and the Kings are actually terrible?

Yeah! Hey, wait! Damn it!

Okay, well, uh, maybe it’s not so bad. So they’ll dump Gaborik and get an equally bad player in return. Whatever.

BUT WHY NICK SHORE?! WHY?!

Adorable, charming, stone-for-hands Nick Shore is the other piece going to Ottawa in this awful, awful, AWFUL trade. He might be terrible, but he’s OUR terrible fourth line center. And he’s an adorable smol child.

Also, Nate Thompson sucks. There’s a reason the Anaheim Ducks dumped him and upgraded their roster with AHL prospects instead. The 33-year-old scored a career-high 10 goals in 2010-11 with the Tampa Bay Lightning and even in the WHL, he never cracked 20. There are non-elite NHLers who have scored 100 points in the WHL during their junior careers. He’s an older, worser, less physical Jordan Nolan. Oh God. He’s Dwight King. WHY DO YOU CURSE US EVEN NOW, DEAN LOMBARDI?!

The Kings should absolutely be sellers at this year’s deadline. The loss of Jeff Carter was too big to overcome, even being a bubble team with 26 games to go and his return on the horizon. They’re not out, but with 65 points they’ll likely need a minimum of 30 points to make the playoffs. Probably more considering how tight the Pacific has become since Christmas. Either way, that’s a big ask out of this current team. Their roster and depth were no match for other, better teams in the league who have been able to withstand losing some of their best players for a sustained period of time. While I am sad to see Shore go, he was dead weight and expendable with the arrival of Michael Amadio. There was no need to deal Torrey Mitchell again as they can let him walk at the end of the season. (Don’t ask me about Jussi Jokinen. That was also an odd move, letting him go and for nothing.)

Many Kings fans have been begging for a defenseman all season, inexplicably so in my opinion. No, I don’t like Derek Forbort but he’s been mostly... Mediocre. He doesn’t hurt really, but he sure doesn’t help, either. Alec Martinez is a god and I will have no negative words about him. (Ok real talk, he’s fine and he’s definitely top-four material). Drew Doughty and Jake Muzzin are who they are and that means they are top-four defensemen, even if they do dumb things like take constant unsportsmanlike penalties or turn the puck over, causing you to yell, “DAMN IT, MUZZIN!” The only real “hole” in the defense is the third pairing. Kurtis MacDermid surprised everyone at training camp, but then halfway through the season, it was painfully obvious that his lack of foot speed was a great hindrance. The rotating cast of Kevin Gravel and Paul LaDue have fit in beautifully. Christian Folin has been pretty great since returning from injury and beat out his fellow Swede Oscar Fantenberg for a permanent spot in the lineup.

It’s unclear at the moment where the Kings hope to slot in the veteran Phaneuf. Presumably, the $7 million man will be in the top-four pushing out Forbort or Martinez for God only knows what reason. They haven’t traded away a blue liner so LaDue may end up back in Ontario as he is still waivers exempt. Gravel reached the maximum number of NHL games played sometime around the All-Star break so he is waivers eligible—meaning, he’d have to be put on and subsequently clear waivers in order to be assigned back to Ontario. It’s highly doubtful he’d successfully sneak through, but you never know. And at this point, with all the other moves Blake has made, it somehow wouldn’t be surprising if they suddenly soured on Gravel and were like boy, bye. Because Kangz.

Anyway. Phaneuf is all kinds of bad. He’s 32 years old, has scored 60 points only once in his career (by contrast, Doughty is pacing for 60 and Muzzin about 45-50), and has been on a downward trajectory since 2009-10. For all you +/- stat lovers out there, he hasn’t finished with a positive rating since 2014 when he was +2. And he tends to take a lot of penalties (though less this year than in prior years—hey, a positive!)

The Kings are in desperate need of offense right now. They have a very solid defense corps with some rookies who are going to have a few bumps now and then. A little patience will go a very long way towards helping them develop into solid players. Bringing in a bad player like Phaneuf will not help them and may hurt their progress by being forced to sit in the press box and not get enough playing time. This trade is all kinds of dumb and bad and honestly, unless Rob Blake performs some kind of miracle, he should lose his job over this. Maybe you think that’s an overreaction but to me, this is just another move among many that says that Blake has no idea what he’s doing in evaluating what his team needs.

At least we can still kind of make fun of the Ottawa Senators.