It’s May and we’re all watching an expansion team inch its way towards the Stanley Cup Final. That’s less than ideal.
So we’ve turned to Twitter to help fill our time. Last week, we asked you what you wanted to hear about, and oh boy did you deliver.
COMING AND GOING
From @Kingsfan12142: Will Kings trade one of Toffoli/Pearson/Martinez for a prospect/pick to clear up space for a free agent such as Kane, Neal, Nash, basically any damn left winger that is capable of scoring 20G?
Carlos: Considering the dearth of scoring wingers on this team, Tanner Pearson and Tyler Toffoli are safe. Martinez makes the most sense to trade, as they have enough LD on the roster to fill three pairings on their own, he makes a decent chunk of the cap and there is still the perception that he is an effective top-four defenseman. I do not believe the trade would precede the signing of an expensive free agent, however. This offseason is all about extending Drew Doughty.
James H.: I don’t see a trade for cap space happening, and think that Toffoli and Pearson’s values are depressed to the point that it doesn’t make sense to deal them. Martinez would seem to be the most likely candidate to me moved, but if it happens, I think it involves other pieces and we see a contracted player coming back in return.
Robyn: Possibly Martinez, but trading Toffoli/Pearson for a 20 goal scorer guy is a lateral move at best, especially if they foolishly decided to move Toffoli, he of 24 goals despite missing his father and not having an elite center to play with for the majority of the season. If they can somehow pull off trading Martinez for a 20 goal scorer, I think they will but realistically, that’s not likely to happen. I love Marty but he’s (almost) 31 and he’s not exactly an elite defenseman.
From @ARFoskey: Do you see the Kings trading players for picks or for more players in this draft. As in, will it be player for player or player for pick.
Robyn: Depends on what they want. If they see a hot prospect that they really, really want in their system, sure I can see them giving up a pick/player to get this draftee. But I don’t see Blake gathering picks just for the sake of gathering picks.
Sarah: I could see Blake offloading some depth/bottom six type players for picks. Unless you’re finding a GM you can easily fleece, or a GM who really values grit, I’d much rather get, say, a fourth-round pick for Nate Thompson than adding a similar caliber player in exchange.
From @rudykelly: Who would you like the Kings to get in return for Alec Martinez when they trade him?
Robyn: [Curls into a fetal position and sobs] I think their defense is actually still in okay shape if they trade Martinez and don’t get a defenseman in return, so in an ideal world, I’d like to see them go for a 3C. Their center depth has been shit since uh 2013 and even Jaret Stoll was kind of playing over his head in 2014, even though it ended up working out just fine in the end. With a veteran 3C, they can still get Vilardi some reps in at 4C without putting as much strain on the top-six as it did this past season. Granted, part of that was not having Carter in the lineup and forcing the burden too much on to Kopitar. Sure he had a career-best 17.5% save percentage and 35 goals, but it’s unrealistic to think that’ll repeat. tl;dr: a GOOD veteran 3C if they can find it. And no, that’s not Nate Thompson.
Carlos: Ideally, a youngish RD in the mold of Paul LaDue to balance the defensive pairings. Maybe sniff around the tire fire in Montreal and see if they can pry Noah Juulsen away from Marc Bergevin? They are one of the few teams with more strength on the right side of the defensive ledger than the left.
Sarah: Ignoring the pained spasm my heart makes when considering trading Martinez — with there being so many up-and-coming young defensemen in the Kings’ system, I’d rather see the Kings get a forward with proven scoring ability in exchange. Martinez is getting “older” and the defensive, shot-blocking game he plays is going to take its toll on his body sooner rather than later, so looking to extract value for him now isn’t the worst idea. I think what the team inevitably trades Martinez for ultimately is going to depend on how much faith they have in players like Fantenberg, LaDue, Clague, Brickley, and any of the other upcoming young defensemen, to step in and take his place.
From @Hypg_31: Would they trade the 1st round pick for a guy with 1 year left on a contract. Like Jeff Skinner or Pacioretty
James H: Would they? Tough to tell, but I’d bet that the odds of it happening are low. Should they? In my opinion, they would be fools not to actively explore it. That sound we all hear is the window on the core group closing – many would say it is already shut – and the top six needs an infusion of goals and play-making ability.
Robyn: Maybe. This is supposed to be a pretty decent draft class so unless it’s a pretty sweet deal, it may not make sense to trade for a rental. While Max Pacioretty is and always has been so much better than Milan Lucic ever was, that deal was disastrous from the beginning and never had any hope of working out. (Mostly because Lucic was a 20-goal scorer at best. At worst, well... He was Dustin Penner 2.0.) It’s really hard to say what Rob Blake will do, but I really hope that it’s not empty the cabinets in a desperate attempt to regain glory. The Kings are in half rebuilding mode. There’s still a good core group of players, but their supporting players just won’t cut it anymore. See: 2018 playoffs first round.
EXPANSION DRAFT 2.0: SEATTLE BOOGALOO
From @thalisourpuss: Should Seattle get a team, whom should the Kings leave vulnerable?
Sarah: So, presuming nothing implodes with Seattle, they could join the league for the 2020-21 season, meaning the expansion draft would happen in summer 2020. The league’s already confirmed that they’ll be using the same expansion draft rules as Vegas, so there will still be games played requirements, still the same rules on numbers of players a team can protect, etc. There’s a lot of variables that would make this hard to predict, not knowing who will be traded, re-signed, a bust, etc., in addition to not knowing what kind of team the presumptive Seattle front office is going to want to build. For the Kings, will be a crop of older players on soon-to-be-expiring contracts who the Kings should leave unprotected. That includes guys like Dustin Brown, Jeff Carter, Dion Phaneuf, and Alec Martinez (if the question-askers above don’t get their wish to trade him). Additionally, the Kings could find themselves in a Penguins/Fleury/Murray situation with Jonathan Quick and his potential heir-apparent, Cal Petersen. Quick’s contract runs through 2022-23, and if Petersen continues to grow in his game, there could be a tough decision coming as to which goalie to protect, and, if they don’t want to lose the other, perhaps expect some side deals to keep Seattle away from the Kings’ goalies.
Robyn: Jonathan Quick. Don’t laugh, I mean it. This isn’t out of malice or anything, but Quick is already 32, has a history of injury, seems to falter under an extremely heavy workload, and by the time the 2020 expansion draft rolls around, he’ll still have three years left with a $5.8 million cap hit. If Seattle is willing to take him, it gets Kings out from under an ugly contract and will usher in a new era of LA Kings goaltending. But, that’s still two years away. A lot can happen in that time. I don’t think I’ll change my mind about exposing Quick, though. If all else fails, exposing Dion Phaneuf would be a good move.
Thanks to all of our readers who submitted questions! Check back next week for our next mailbag installment, where we talk Drew Doughty, Gabe Vilardi, and Adrian Kempe’s Hair.
Have questions you want answered? Drop us a line in the comments, or get at us on Twitter at @JFTC_Kings.