Crown Conversations: LA Kings Trade Dead(line) Day

The NHL’s trade deadline approaches rapidly and General Manager Rob Blake has a lot of decisions to make. But should any of those decisions include trading away any of LA’s current assets?

On Thursday, at the morning ahead of their final season tilt against the San Jose Sharks , the Los Angeles Kings and their fans got possibly the best trade deadline acquisition news possible: Alex Edler would be returning to the lineup. Out with a broken ankle for 110 days, the team’s inexperienced blue liners sorely missed Edler’s calm, stabilizing presence. The Kings are still out regulars Sean Walker (season ending ACL tear) Drew Doughty (UBI), Mikey Anderson (UBI), Matt Roy (LBI), and Tobias Björnfot (LBI), but it sure does feel good to get at least one guy from back IR.

On this episode of Crown Conversations, James and Robyn discuss potential trade deadline moves for the Kings. With Ken Hughes getting quite a haul in return for Ben Chiarot, should Rob Blake consider moving on from some of the young players? But does that help the team? And what kind of moves could the team make over the summer? Injuries forced the issue and the prospects have responded in a big way. It’s good and a great problem to have. But now difficult decisions abound for Blake and the front office. What the future of this team looks like is still anybody’s guess.

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INTRO: [Musical interlude plays, then VO] Are you ready for the most informative, well-thought out hockey podcast on the Internet? You are?? Sorry, it’s just Crown Conversations with your hosts, Robyn P. and James Nicholson.

JN: Three, two–trade deadline primer. Go!

RP: James. Welcome back to the podcast. Thank you so much for having me here. Robin I have been away for a little while. I have gone on a spiritual journey through the brush. I have learned a lot about myself and I am very pleased to tell you that I like bagels with just cream cheese on them. I don’t need anything else.

RP: So you’re not a cream cheese and lox kind of guy, huh?

JN: Nope! Nope, don’t need the lox. Don’t need the capers. Red onions if I’m feeling very zesty that day.

RP: Ooh.

JN: But, you know, I just cream cheese it up and I will be a content man.

RP: Well, I’m sure your wife appreciates your simplicity.

JN: [laughs] Yes

RP: That came out wrong, but–

JN: Hey, speaking of simplicity. What do you feel about the potential trade deadline philosophy that Rob Blake will have?

RP: Honestly, simple is better for this team and we got some huge, huge news this afternoon. Actually this morning. The biggest trade deadline acquisition that they could make, Alex Edler is back in the lineup. Just pray to god that, you know, his 30-plus-year-old bones hold up for just a little bit longer and I know that like being like, “oh my god, 30 is so old.” No, it’s just that hockey and pro sports, like as soon as you hit like 25, you’re an old man–or old person, I should say.

JN: Yeah. No. It’s-it’s true. There is… Time comes for all of us, you know, unless you’re, I don’t know, Ichiro. That guy’s still playing baseball. Anyways. Yeah, no. I-I’m so excited to have Edler, back in line, up to see some stability on the back end, especially with every defenseman that the Kings have been hurt right now. I mean, we’ve seen some trades. We’re recording this on Thursday, Saint Patrick’s Day. We’ve seen the Ben Chiarot trade to Florida, which was a–I mean, oh my gosh, did the Canadiens ever fleece Florida for that one. And we’ve seen Calle Jarnkrok go from Seattle to Calgary, which feels like a good fit. But like how many Calle Jarnkroks do the Flames already have on their roster?

RP: All of them.

JN: Yeah, exactly. It’s a good fit. I mean, if I was to guess at if a Flame player is available for trade, maybe Sean Monahan. He’s had a, you know, a couple of bad years. You know, he’s an old person at 25ish years old according to Robyn’s standards and I… He’s been playing a lot of the year in the bottom six, which is weird because it’s- it feels like just a short time ago, we were watching him going, “My gosh, he’s the next Kopitar.” But yeah. I mean I don’t think Monahan is going to the Kings. I’m just throwing it out there that maybe he’s available. I think it would be interesting, because it felt like that guy–he… Everything about him just said Calgary Flame for life.

RP: You know, Johnny Gaudreau’s name has also been in the trade rumors, but it’s interesting how the team has really come alive under Sutter and kind of comparing and contrasting. I think obviously the Flames are a little bit more talented than the 2012 or the 2014 Kings and they’re built with very different philosophies. So it’s interesting to kind of see how Sutter has… I’ll say, kind of utilized his weapons on that team and made them into a very productive squad. So it’s… Do Gaudreau or do Monahan get moved in the next couple of years? Did–does Monahan get moved at the deadline? I feel like Calgary would be more likely to stand pat–at least on Monahan because he still useful and productive in their bottom six. And it’s kind of like when we were have–when we had Mike Richards in the bottom six and we were talking about like who couldn’t use Mike Richards in the bottom six?

JN: Man. That’s a great comparison. Oh my gosh. Yeah. And like you know that because they have to re-sign Tkachuk and Gaudreau after this year. So I think that’s why they’re like, oh we should you know–maybe they’ll ship out Monahan the deadline. They could do that at the draft easily as well. I don’t know if there is a rush to trade Sean Monahan out of town because like you said, who wouldn’t want to have Sean Monahan and their bottom six? Oh my gosh.

RP: Yeah. Like if your-your team is so deep that you’re rolling, Sean Monahan on the third line and he’s still moderately productive and it looks like your team is primed for a–for at the very least a deep Cup run with a pedigreed coach... I don’t see the need to really trade anybody unless they get a Montreal-esque return for him.

JN: Yeah, I don’t think that’s happening, you know, but whatever, man, stranger things have happened. Okay, last night… It looks like you put it on the second line between Mangiapane and Toffoli. And then Michael Backlund. [Incredulous laugh] Michael Backlund is your third line center with Blake Coleman and Trevor Lewis. That is the most Sutter third line I could possibly think of. Dear goodness. No wonder he came out of retirement to coach that team. That truly is the most Darryl Sutter line I’ve ever seen on paper. [laughs]

RP: The Flames were really good team even before he took over and then they traded for Tyler Toffoli and then, of course, Tyler Toffoli is thriving. Milan Lucic looks good on their roster? Like…

JN: He has a role. He has a role. He doesn’t need to be The Guy the way that they need him to be the guy to play with McDavid in Edmonton. He’s just, “hey, here’s what we expect you to do, you’re on the fourth line, get greasy goals, fight some guys who piss us off.” And Lucic truly is a great teammate. Like he’s a guy who loves to like be with the guys in the room. I mean, it was only like, one year he was with the Kings and he was in, like, Tanner Pearson and Tyler Toffoli’s weddings.

RP: Yeah.

JN: Like, you know, he really is that kind of team-first guy. Well, rumor has it that he was all set to take a steep discount and sign with the Kings. Like Kopitar had talked him into staying because I guess the whole team loved him. But Dean Lombardi kind of yanked his chain around a little bit too much sr o he left. That’s the rumor. Who knows what the truth is, though?

JN: Who knows? I mean, they were waiving Matt Greene to be able to fit Lucic under the cap and then Edmonton, I mean, you know, opened up Fort Knox for him, essentially, and Wayne Gretzky gave him a call. I mean, how do you–that’s a hard one to say no to. But yeah, I mean…

RP: The Kings just overall weren’t a good fit for Lucic in the way that they were trending. Like 2014 was kind of a miracle year because it just so happened that their heart and soul guy, Justin Williams, stepped up so big in the playoffs and came through so clutch so many times. It also happened that they got lucky with a few calls that went their way in the Stanley Cup Final. You know, Dwight King, sitting in Henrik Lundqvist’s lap like we all wanted to do, but… You know, it… 2014 was their miracle year. The roster just… especially with the way they cap was… It… Their roster was trending in the wrong direction to be able to sustain the kind of success that they needed to get back to the playoffs. And-and in my personal opinion, Dean Lombardi was still kind of hanging on to his 2012 Ideals.

JN: Well, yeah, because, I mean they had worked, you know… They had won, you know, two Cups in three years, they’d been to the Western Conference Final in three straight year. Maybe things look different if you know Duncan Keith is suspended for as long as you should have been when he knocked out Jeff Carter’s teeth. But I mean… I’m not going to say the Lucic trade was the nail in the coffin for that era of the Kings. It more felt like the Ben Bishop trade, you know, when they traded away a second round pick and Eric Cernak who has been, I mean, great as a tough, rugged, left-handed defenseman for Tampa Bay which is the thing that the Kings are sorely missing at the moment. Really quick. I’m seeing online here, ahead of the trade deadline, Nick Paul from Ottawa might be available and Nick Paul, for me, is an interesting guy because… He is that kind of jack of all trades. He plays hard, he smart, you can play them in any situation… He’s not going to score a ton of points. Did you already kind of feel like the Kings have enough of those guys?

RP: [laughs] If you’re asking that question I feel like you already know the answer.

JN: Yeah. I… You know, it’s Ryan’s–Ryan Dunn’s, the Not Dead Ryan Dunn’s thing of the Kings have too many fourth liners and only one fourth line. I t’s just, you know, you look at-at Nick Paul and you know he’s a guy who, oftentimes, wears the A in Ottawa. He is a… You know, I feel like, a good leadership guy and you know… He’s only 26, you know, can play center, you know, maybe a guy on the left side… I don’t know.

RP: He’s a young Dustin Brown. That’s what I see in this.

JN: I mean, yeah. Yeah. Kind of. I mean…

RP: I don’t… I mean, if you wanted to go that…that route, they already have that in on their roster currently. I mean they have that with Alex Iafallo and I don’t want to… I don’t mean to lump them together because I feel like Iafallo is more talented than Nicholas Paul, but you know they have Iafallo, they have Grundstrom, they have Kempe, they have Brendan freaking Lemieux… Like… They have all these sort of nitty gritty… Like, freaking they have Blake Lizotte for that. I mean… Do they need another one?

JN: Good point, good point… Yeah, you’re right. I mean, I don’t know… It… I’m also seeing, looking at The Athletic and just trying to divine meaning from tweets and stuff that may be Arizona’s not going to be able to trade Chychrun at the deadline, you know, because he has an injury.It does not look like it’s long-term injury. But, I mean, they are still asking the whole heck of a lot for Jacob Chychrun from Arizona. So…

RP: I mean if you saw what Ben Chiarot got then, why would you not ask for the moon? Like I feel like give me two seconds and a top prospect for Chychrun or, you know, a first, a second and and a top prospect for Chychrun. Like, I mean, Chiarot’s okay. He’s obviously had a couple of down years with Montreal, who admittedly, they’re not that good right now. And-and they’ve they’re kind of looking at–

JN: Chiarot is the kind of defenseman I know you hate specifically. Like you are the one you’re just like, get this guy out of the game like he... He makes hockey ugly to watch.

RP: Yeah. But he’s moderately effective apparently.

JN: I don’t know about that. Like if I’m the GM of a team, I don’t… Especially if I’m the GM of the Florida Panthers. I don’t look at Ben Chiarot and go, “My team just got better,” you know? I mean…

RP: But he’s quote, unquote, tough to play against. That’s what you need–

JN: Well so is Brandon Montour. So is Radko Gudas. You know, like they have plenty of guys who are already tough to play against unless you just want a guy who… I mean, he can play less side and the right side.

RP:  I guess I feel like they’re trying to get tougher. They want to have a tough mentality and I mean, literally a tough mentality.

JN: I mean you already have Patrick Hornquist and Radko Gudas.

RP: Yeah, they got a couple of dirty guys.

JN: And Noel Acciari. Noel Acciari, to me, like, that is a man who is just like, “Tie me to a wrecking ball and let me go.” Like when he was with Boston, he was playing in the Cup Final with a broken sternum. Like, yeah, like… Yeah, they’re tough already.

RP: [sarcastically] Noel Acciari is not that tough. Patrice Bergeron played with a hole in his lung. The least he can do is play with a hole in his sternum.

JN: [laughs] I like that. Yes. Very good. Very good. Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, I don’t know.

RP: I… Okay. I said this to Sarah, but I don’t feel like where the Kings are at right now, and especially in terms of being competitive in the playoffs, I don’t think what they’re looking for they’re going to be able to get through the trade, or through a trade, at least, at this particular deadline. Over the summer, things are always more likely to shift and you may not have to pay through the nose for a potential rental or even overpay for a guy with one or two years left on his contract. You might be able to kind of swing things somewhere around the draft. That’s kind of what I’m thinking.

JN: Man, I absolutely agree with you. You know… I, I… I feel like if there’s any thing you know, that the Kings do, and I really hate to say this... But, you know, the–for me, the-the trade that makes the most sense is moving Sean Walker’s contract. He’s on LTIR. That’s an automatic cap relief for somebody like Toronto or Pittsburgh, you know, good teams who are trying to get better are tight up against the cap. They need defensemen, especially young defenseman with term. And as much as I hate to say it, like, I don’t know if there’s a role for Sean Walker next year, when he recovers from this ACL surgery, which is a shame because I think he’s a good hockey player. But man, how does he compete against, you know, Durzi or Jordan Spence? Matt Roy and Drew Doughty aren’t going anywhere on the right side.

RP: Yeah. I mean, they have… Rob Blake and the front office have a lot of decisions and I don’t envy them. This is probably gonna be one of the hardest deadlines and off-seasons this team will have had to face in… probably about a decade.

JN: Yeah. Oh, and don’t forget Clark turns pro like the next year. He still have Helge Grans and Brock Faber in the pipeline, all right-shot defenseman.

RP: Yeah. I mean here’s the thing… like… We saw through injury people get a lot of opportunity and it’s a little bit unfortunate for Sean Walker that he’s going to have to be squeezed out, but I mean… Durzi, like you said, stepped up; Björnfot has been really good this year. He’s a young lefty. I know Durzi plays right side but you know, Jordan Spence, in his first pro here, having an outstanding season. He was fantastic in Ontario. He somehow looks comfortable in the NHL and I… He has term left on his contract so I feel like they’re probably gonna try and start him in Ontario, next year, depending on how camp goes next year. And it’s a little bit too early to talk about what they’re gonna do with Spence, especially because they can probably just bury him back in Ontario, and, and not feel like they’re gonna rush his development unless, again, he forces the issue. But, I mean, Jacob Moverare is fine. He’s only 23 compared to Sean Walker, who’s 27, he’s gonna be 28 soon.

JN: Man, I loved his game against Colorado. I thought he had such a good game against Colorado. Like he… he had great gap control. He stood up at smart spots, was good with his stick. I mean it… he is not, you know… The the knock on him has always been his speed. And if I was to describe Robyn P style hockey, it’s everyone’s fast, go! You know, just because you don’t have speed doesn’t mean you can’t be effective, especially if you’re paired with somebody who does have the speed.

RP: Yeah.

JN: You know, and… I like him. I… There’s a lot to like. I don’t know if he’s the fix on the left side at the moment.I think if the Kings want that 25 and under defenseman left side with NHL experience… I mean… I don’t know if he is the “fix” this year… But I mean, maybe Travis Dermott from Toronto. And the Kings and, you know, Kyle Dubas in Toronto, obviously have a relationship. We’ve made lots of trades with them. Most notably, Jake Muzzin and Kyle Clifford. Jack Campbell. They want to move on from Dermott. They need cap space. For me, that’s just a, “Hey, what if?” I don’t really know. [pause] I would love to see Ivan Provorov, but [clenched teeth] who knows what the Philadelphia Flyers are doing? Nobody knows! Nobody! Why did you? Why is Chuck Fletcher allowed to be a GM? He is so good at wasting owners’ money and getting mediocrity in return. Why does this man have a job?

RP: [laughing] I don’t know what I wish I had it because I am–

JN: No kidding! I can do better!

RP: [laughs] It’s like Dom’s tweet from a few years ago where he said, “An owner can pay me a million dollars and all I’ll have to do is five times a year just say, ‘don’t do that.’”

[Both laugh]

RP: Like I feel like... Feels relevant.

JN: No, it’s it’s true. And my goodness. Just and, you know, Lombardi is an advisor there and I mean, they gave Rasmus Ristolainen, I think, an absurd contract. They’ve taken Provorov off the power play, he’s struggling this year, but everyone has struggled with Philadelphia. No one’s having a good year and yet they view it as an apparition that this is just a one-off weird thing and they’ll be back next year, don’t you worry. And I, I do not buy that for a second.

RP: It’s remarkable that Ghost Bear managed to have a resurgence this year when he’s not playing in Philadelphia and the Coyotes are not good.

JN: [chuckles] Yeah, had to make room for Keith Yandle.

RP: Ugh. Anyway.  Back to the defense. My thought is that Moverare is still young. I mean, he’s 23, he’ll be 24 at the end of August. So, I feel like if they tell them to focus on his skating over the summer, like they did with Tanner Pearson and Tyler Toffoli, he’ll be fine. He’s young, he’s 23 and a half, he’ll be 24 this summer. I don’t think they should give up on him. They also have done weird things with his career. Like at 20, he came over, oh, sorry, not 20 because he’s 23. At 21 he came over to the US and sat for a year he didn’t play and he was a healthy scratch. He played like five games. I have no idea what they were doing with him in Ontario, other than “you  learn by osmosis in the press box.” And then he started off the year in Ontario. He’s done finding Ontario, he’s–and I think he’s getting better as time goes on and and he’s getting more acquainted and accustomed to playing in the NHL. And this is what happens, you see it happen because if you give people a chance, it’s kind of weird how they’re able to improve. Isn’t that weird, James?

JN: Yeah. He–I’m looking at stats–he got into 26 games last year and, on a very, we’ll call it porous backend for Ontario last year, he was still a plus two-which is mind-boggling. He had 15 points in 26 games. How? This year in 30 games, he has 10 points. That’s more what we expect. But I mean he’s a guy who, you know, he played junior in the OHL and then went back to Sweden and he played in the SHL and he won a bunch of… I think like two or three straight championships with Frölunda.

RP: Uh huh. He was a key guy in Frölunda. They loved him in the SHL. His coach couldn’t stop raving about him, talking about how close he was to being NHL ready. Like they felt that he was on the cusp when he was 20 years old.

JN: Oh yeah.

RP: And then he came over and then nothing happened. Like literally–

JN: Well I just remember them talking about he might be the smartest guy that, you know, in the pipeline. His hockey sense is kind of unmatched. And, you know, when I look at at that, I am encouraged because I don’t know if if… When I look at the Kings’ young blue liners, when I look at it like Durzi or Spence, man, sometimes they… They really freak you out in the defensive zone. Especially Dur–Durzi wants to make something incredible happen every time he touches the puck and… That’s fun to watch for sure. But you just wonder if it’s necessary; it’s not necessary every time that’s for sure.

RP: He’ll calm down. He’s, he’s gotten better about that over as he’s played. But I mean, there’s a reason why he has stayed up. And in spite of all the injuries, like even when the Kings were struggling at forward earlier this year, he–and, and then, you know, Sean Walker went down, like a couple of the guys on forward, they kind of went up and down up and down, Durzi is the only one who was managed to stay, he got the call up over Austin Strand, which is interesting because last year, we thought it was gonna be Durzi who got the call up over Strand and instead it was Strand who got called up. Durzi, I feel like, does have a good hockey sense–at least when it comes to making a play, although sometimes he tries to make too much happen and it’s kind of like when Drew Doughty was a lot younger and Doughty always wanted to be The Guy. I feel like I see a lot of spades of duty and Durzi.

JN: Oh I could absolutely see that. And I mean, Durzi is a blast to watch on the power play. There might be a pun in there. But there is something so… It’s hard with so many Kings being injured right now, you know, at midway through March because now you’re just kind of hoping oh man, I, this is where you kind of want them to be hitting their stride, especially with a tough schedule down the stretch heading into the playoffs. But you know if the young guys can come up get experience and help us tread water while guys get healthy, that’s pretty encouraging for heading in the next year.

RP:  And like I said earlier it does force some really tough decisions for the front office and that’s kind of a good problem to have. You know, I kind of think the more experience Moverare gets, especially playing the North American pro game, the better he’s gonna be. So I wish they would give him a really long look and I wish that they would give him, also, a long leash because you know if you want to talk like hockey smarts that’s what you want. Maybe he’s not the fastest guy but maybe he can be eventually your kind of Willie Mitchell replacement in that he’s got that great hockey sense. Or he could be your Edler. Because Edler is 37, I think–oh, he’s 35, sorry. Sorry, Edler, I did not mean to age you up two years. I mean so eventually he could be the Edler replacement because we talked earlier in the season about how good Edler is at being in the right spot. He’s not the fastest guy. He’s not the flashiest guy. But he’s the guy that you want to settle things down, especially when things are getting really crazy in your own zone. And I think that’s one of the areas that the Kings have really struggled with this year is that when they get under pressure in their own zone, the inexperience on the blue line shows. So  if you can get a guy like Moverare and like Edler and you can get them to kind of play well and play consistency consistently, I think that would be like kind of your best option the long term.

JN: Mm-hmm.

RP: And I think he could be–

JN: You’re making good points and I can’t fight you on it!

RP:  He could be a really good six defenseman He doesn’t have to be the fastest guy. He could probably be someone that you throw out on your PK2 and their PK has S T R U G G L E D this year, holy cow it is so bad. Maybe he doesn’t get PP time. That’s fine. But at some point you still need defense. And I know that’s kind of weird hearing me say that because I’m like they need finishers, but they still also need somebody to like stop the puck.

JN: Yeah, no. And you know, I, man… I… Watching the Colorado game, I was so impressed with Moverare. Austin Strand, who I really have a soft spot in my heart for, man, it looked like he was a little bit overmatched out there. And again, he’s playing Colorado. Like, good luck.

RP: [laughs] Good luck, everyone.

JN: Ha! No kidding! And you know… Raantanen’s pass on the first goal from the goal line, yeah, Strand probably should have had that covered. He probably should have been able to take that away, didn’t. It’s just… What are you gonna do? It’s…

RP: Like you said these are these are learning moments and they’re gonna make the mistakes because they’re young and experienced. Didn’t–you know, we’ve seen Doughty make stupid mistakes as well. So it’s just what are you gonna do? Like you said you have to learn from your mistakes and Colorado is a team that can beat you into the ground with how good they are.

JN: Man. [Fumbling for words] Not only is there just an insane amount of skill and they are so fast they are so physical. I mean, Nathan McKinnon is…is the man. He-he’s a juggernaut I mean I I don’t remember what poor soul it was on the Kings but he absolutely flattened them and you know you have Nazem Kadri, who sure did go down really easy, you know when I thought Sean Durzi made a very good hockey play against him and they called it interference

RP: Nazem Kadri go down? [feigns shock] Well he’s not Jamie Benn.

JN: [laughs] You know I, it’s just… You know, the Kings lost three - nothing. Early on in the game, you know there was a couple of pucks that hit the post that saved Quick, saved the defense, really. But, you know after that the Kings really did calm down and they played a good game. Kopitar really lost as cool on a short-handed breakaway. I think he felt that Macar had interfered with him and that there should have been a penalty call. Macar did such a good job of leaning on him and making sure that the hand that was shielded from view was, you know, grabbing at Kopitar’s hip. Like the it’s just that was such a savvy, good defensive move by Cale Makar.

RP: Well, I mean, it’s a good like cheat, I’ll say that.

JN: Oh, absolutely! But like I mean Kopitar, we see him… I mean he came off the ice and through a stick through a glove you know that then on the replay you see him, you know, throw his water bottle down the tunnel he was mad mad.

RP: But you know let’s kind of the passion in the fire that we haven’t seen from him all year and I’m not trying to say like quiet leadership is bad or anything. I don’t–I’m obviously not in the room but at some point you kind of want to see you want to see him get mad; show some emotions.

JN: Oh. I’m all for it. I love it, especially somebody like, you know, Nate McKinnon this year has gotten way mad. He’s been crazy in terms of just like, you know, he’s had some hits what, in all honesty, he deserved to be suspended for. We’ve seen him yellin’ at guys. We’ve seen someone like Auston Matthews get really chippy and yell and be vocal this year. He is currently serving the suspension at the time of this recording. Please, Kopitar, don’t get suspended. But… I think the point I’m trying to make is this is the time of year where you’re 60ish games into the year, it’s been a long season, things aren’t quite going right… Frustration is warranted at this point. And, you know, sometimes, yeah, I remember Justin Williams with the Kings, he would have these really long stretches were he couldn’t buy a point, you know. And Kopitar’s there right now and Justin Williams–I remember him saying like, “Yeah, you kind of have to do everything against your instincts and just let the points come to you because, god, you just want to make the points happen.” And that’s the frustrating thing is that sometimes it just can’t quite make them happen. And… [exhales]

RP: Yeah. Todd McLellan had a really interesting thing to say about that. I mean it was a very lengthy quote. I’m not going to read it all. If you’re interested fans, friends, listeners go check it out on L.A. Kings Insider. But essentially what it boils down to is that he said one of the reasons why he kind of keeps fiddling with the lines but kind of not fiddling with the lines is very much in the opposite wein of what Sutter does. He very thoughtfully said that [paraphrasing] Okay, well if you try to mess with one line just to get these three days going, now what happens with your other three lines? If you mess that up–like because Danault and Moore have an incredible chemistry going this year. It was Danault, Moore, and Arvidsson but unfortunately Arvidsson got hurt–but I mean, so if you split up these lines just to try and get this going it may blow up your face. It may hurt everybody else. And you know the Champagne Line as Jim Fox likes to call them, they’re starting to look really good. I think they’re kind of starting to hit their stride. Quinton Byfield is looking a little bit more confident. I wish he’d be a little bit more selfish with the puck and shoot a little more as opposed to like being a passer kind of like Kopitar, but I mean he’s got a point when he says basically, “Look, these guys all have enough experience now and they all have enough talent that eventually, they’re gonna figure out how to work themselves out of a rut and nothing is guaranteed.” So… At the very least he feels that keeping his other three lines together gives him a better shot at producing offense than splitting up Kopitar, Kempe, and Iafallo. And I was like, “That’s… That’s fair.” I mean, it’s definitely different than what we experienced under Sutter where Sutter was like okay, you haven’t been productive for two games? Let me hit the line blender. You sucked in that game, hit the line blender. I don’t like where this is going: line blender. [trails off laughing]

JN: No, and-and I think a point… You know, in the past few years, I think you could easily say I’ve been a Todd McLellan apologist you know early this year I was getting frustrated and going man. You know, I was on the Fire Todd Bandwagon a little bit at the start of the year. I think one of the reasons I like Todd McLellan so much is there’s always a reason for his decision making. He… He’s thoughtful. And I like that as a coach. And-and I feel like he’s a good communicator. You know. He has kind of called out Kopitar and Kempe and Iafallo for their lack of production in the press. He’s done it in a very gentle way but you know when you see Kopitar throwing stuff after a short-handed break away doesn’t go in the net, you know, you won, you’re okay. Is he… You know, do you need to be hard on him? Because he obviously cares right now and that’s what you want from Kopitar. And man. I… I don’t know… I mean, as we head into the trade deadline I sincerely don’t know what the Kings need to do–or if they need to do anything. You know, maybe… It just doesn’t feel like this is the right time for the big trade or the big shake up.

RP: Yeah. And as Sarah said, maybe the summer is when you start looking at saying goodbye to some of your favorite and top prospects. But it doesn’t feel like they need to rush out and get their… their One, you know. Kind of like what teams are doing to kind of shore themselves up for the playoffs.I think this is the season where they say, “Maybe we start making moves towards that.” Because I don’t think they were expecting to be where they are at at this point in time. Certainly not second in the Pacific even though the Pacific is really bad. But they’re still on pace for 90-something points. So… That’s not bad. And one of the years that they missed the playoffs I think they had like 98 points and Calgary had like 99 points. It was one of those absurd things. So you never quite know exactly how things are gonna shake out in the NHL. And  if they manage to finish with 94, 95 points, I think that’s more than anybody was expecting three years into the rebuild, especially when things looked so drire like two years ago.

JN: Mm-hmm. No, and you know, we talked about, you know, last year they should have been  in contention for the playoffs and they weren’t and–you know, according to The Plan. But, yeah. They feel like they, you know, this is a good spot for them. There is a fun sort of cannibalism, you know, for that third seed the Pacific between Edmonton and okay Vegas and then maybe even Vancouver jumps up in there. That… That’s what I’m rooting for: Just give me chaos. Please. Make… Make Vegas regret trading all their picks. And then… you know, who knows what happens with Dallas, Nashville. You know, those guys seem like pretty good wild card teams, you know. It-it could be real fun to see Vegas versus LA in the first round of the playoffs and it’s a rematch of Danault and Mark Stone.

RP: Yeah. But I don’t know if Mark Stones is out for the season, but I don’t think his back is gonna hold up in the playoffs.

JN: Oh he’ll be back for the playoffs. Don’t you worry.

RP: No I know he’ll be back, I just don’t–

JN: Mark “Nikita Kucherov” Stone, yes.

RP: [laughs] Not if Vegas manages to fail out of the playoffs. I don’t think that Vegas was expecting to be this bad coming down the home stretch.

JN: Yeah I mean they’re a team that’s also suffered, you know, from injuries. I think they have like seven guys on LTIR right now. Something like that. What’s–six guys on the LTIR at the moment. Yeah. I mean you know they’re missing you know our very good golden boy, Alec Martinez; Jake Bischoff, who’s a good, you know, left handed-defenseman; Robin Lehner; Riley Smith; Brayden McNabb; Mark Stone all injured right now.

RP: Yeah. Their IR list could match LA’s for like “What the hell happened?” They only difference is that LA’s rash of injuries came all at once whereas Vegas’s were a little bit more spread out over time. But losing Lehner is a huge blow.

JN: Yeah. And the goalie situation already was tenuous.

RP: Yeah.

JN: So. I mean right now you have Laurent Broissoit as your number one goalie with Logan Thompson as the number two. Who’s Logan Thompson? Exactly. No offense to Mr. Thompson but who and you know Mike Amadio is a regular in their lineup with the way things have gone this year.

RP: Hey, he scored the other night.

JN: Yeah he did, I mean he’s got 11 points in 36 games.

RP:  That tracks.

JN: Yeah. What you would expect from Mike Amadio.

RP: Yeah.

JN: Good defensively.

RP: That’s about it.

JN: Yeah, I mean… And again I always liked Mike Amadio as a King. I wish him nothing but the best. But as I continuously update Twitter while I’m talking to you, no trade news has broken and Darren Dreger is like tweeting out screenshots of typos. So we know there is no trades about to happen at the moment.

RP: How bored do you have to be to tweet out screenshots of typos?

JN: Yeah.

RP: All right So let’s bring it back home to the Kings.

JN: Okay.

RP: If they could make one trade, would you prefer–so, the rumor has it that they’re looking for middle six guys. I would still like to see someone who is a little bit more consistent at scoring, but who do you go for?

JN: I mean if you want consistency with finishing you do not want Jake DeBrusk.

RP: I know I was on like the Jake DeBrusk “Trade for Jake DeBrusk wagon” earlier, but he’s very streaky just like Arvidsson. Just like everybody on this team.

JN: Yeah, I mean…

RP: But it’s kind of the nature of the sport. Everyone’s streaky.

JN: Yeah, no, absolutely, but like I’m looking at it kind of like what kind of winger do I want playing with Quinton Byfield for the rest of the year? I think that’s my approach to it right now because you’re not breaking up that second line.

RP: But I’d kind of like to see the Kids Line stay together. Just… They’re a little bit chaotic. They’re a little messy in their own zone. But god are they fun to watch in the offensive zone.

JN: Yeah and that’s the thing. It’s, l ike, I’m seeing Vilardi make harder plays than he made previously. Like he is going in and initiating contact on the boards. He’s winning puck battles. He’s following up on passes. Things that I don’t know if I saw before, you know. I would…

RP: He’s less hesitant, he’s more active. He activates more in the offensive zone.

JN: Yes. He’s more confident. Absolutely. I would love to see him with Martin Frk because I think Martin Frk is his security blanket.

RP: Yeah. [laughs]

JN: You know… But-but, you know, then you would ask Grundstrom to play his off wing and move Kupari down to the fourth line and I don’t know if Kupari is a fourth liner.

RP: Yeah, but, I mean if you have Kupari on your four–in your bottom six on your fourth line… Again… A very good young forward with a lot of raw talent. Is that really so bad? Although we’re getting kind of into Toronto territory here and I’m a little scared. Like you look at Toronto’s roster and they’re so good on paper and then… And I know it’s-it’s… You can’t really take the internet too seriously when it comes to the Leafs… But they’re-they’re just… There’s some kind of a curse that’s following them around that team.

JN: The curse of the goaltenders. And it does not help that Jake Muzzin is unfortunately out with another concussion, which is just scary.

RP: Oh, poor Muzz.

JN: And obviously you want, you know, you want him to be feeling better. I… I don’t know if there’s anyone… any kind of a middle six player I see that I… I’m really in love with.

RP: But it doesn’t have to be a middle six player. I mean it can–and I’m just asking in general. Who would you or what kind of move would you like to see them make if things kind of go their way?

JN: I would love a left-handed defenseman. You know, we’re… We…

RP: You want Dermot? Like is that your kind of ideal trade?

JN: If I had to choose–okay, assuming everyone’s healthy as we go into the playoffs... So we’re looking at Anderson, Edler, and Björnfot on the left side. If I have a choice between my seventh defenseman being Travis Dermott or Olli Määttä… [Robyn laughs] I’m gonna say Travis Dermott, please.

RP: Well, I mean Olli Määttä was never expected to be in the role that he is.

JN: Don’t get me wrong, playoff Olli Määttä is a different player entirely.

RP: [sighs] I don’t know if I’ve seen playoff Olli Määttä.

JN:Yeah no, no one has seen him since Pittsburgh.

RP: So how can we be sure that he’s gonna show up?

JN: Yeah, exactly. So I-I just… I don’t know. I… You know, I don’t… It’s hard because there are a lot of teams who are kind of like [high pitched] “Ehhhhh… [normal voice] Are we in the playoffs? Are we not?” I think we just need to stand pat and see what happens/ You know I don’t see anyone on, you know Seattle’s roster who I’m licking my chops at going, “Oh yeah! Give me Mark Giordano for, you know, 15 games. Let’s go!”

RP: You know apparently the Kings were kind of kicking the tires on Jarnkrok, but I was like given… Like he’s fine. I just don’t think he’s worth a second. I think it was a little bit too steep for LA to pay that at this at the stage that they’re at for Jankrok.

JN: Yeah. Yeah. And you know Winnipeg is another team where it’s just like man, they are not where they want to be but they’re not far off from making the playoffs maybe, either. You know, I mean, how great would it be to get Kyle Connor, who all he does is score goals?

RP: Ohhh Kyle Connor would be fun.

JN: Oh it would be great.

RP: I don’t I mean I don’t see Winnipeg

JN: [simultaneously] player available out of Columbus would be Maxi Domi.

RP: Ew, no, no. No.

JN: Yeah, exactly. We already have Lemieux, we don’t need Domi. I don’t see anyone on the Islanders who I’m just like, “oh yeah, they’ll definitely trade that guy to us to make us better offensively.” Same with San Jose, Detroit. I mean Chicago is the only one where you’re just like, “Eh, okay, maybe.”

RP: No.

JN: There’s no one in New Jersey who I really want. I had seen on Twitter someone I mentioned Dominic Kubalik who already was very adamant he never wanted to be a King.

RP: Yeah. He hated LA. That was fine.

JN: Yeah.

RP: They didn’t really like him that much, either, to be honest.

JN: Yeah. And, you know. Okay do the Kings trade for someone like Alex Debrincat who can certainly score a lot?

RP: I think he would probably cost too much, but if they could make it happen that would be fun.

JN: Yeah. I mean, sure. You know there’s Brandon Hagel.

RP: Eh. I saw Kulak. Kulak is the latest rumor apparently, although somebody else told me that and I was I couldn’t find anything to substantiate that, so I don’t know.

JN: Yeah. You know, some people have mentioned Travis Konecny from Philadelphia, who, to me, just seems like a Dean Lombardi player. We don’t really need him right now. I don’t know. I…

RP: So, I guess the answer really that we’re looking at is for now stand pat, see what shakes out over the summer after the Stanley Cup and everything has just kind of calmed down. I think it’s probably their best option anyway.

JN: Oh yeah absolutely And you know the Kings have plenty of prospects who they could move if they wanted to move a Kupari if they wanted to move a Pinelli. You know someone like that someone who is intriguing to another team. They’d be fine to do that over the summer. I don’t think you need to rush into anything right now to you know trade for an Andrew Copp from Winnipeg. Yeah.

RP: You know I’ve always had a really soft spot for Kupari .I just find him very charming and I love his potential. So I’m like, “No, don’t trade Kupari!” Like, I feel like trading Gabe Vilardi would, at least for me, would be better. But I mean Sarah’s right that eventually we’re gonna have to say goodbye to the prospects that we love. Not all of them, of course, because we’re still gonna need them for our team.

JN: A couple.

RP: But we’re gonna have to part with some popular players. It’s gonna suck because they’re all gonna come back and score a hat trick against LA.

JN: You know, we-we moved on from Patrick O’Sullivan for Justin Williams.

RP: [sighs] I know. But,  eventually someone’s going to have to be a POS trade I just I don’t know who that’s going to be I’m kind of hoping it’s Vilardi because I really like Kupari and I feel like Kupari has been a little bit more stable than Vilardi but, who knows?

JN: Yeah exactly. I mean I don’t know man. Maybe–

RP: You know, I was thinking, too, who’s gonna be–

JN: [simultaneously] Brandon–Brenden Burke staying pat at the trade deadline in Pittsburgh. It’s very… That-that is not his M.O., you know, but I don’t know if he wants to move anybody.

RP: Yeah

JN: I don’t know if anyone the Kings need.

RP: Well I’ll be interested to see, because Rob Blake was here in 2014 when they made the Marion Gaborik trade. Blake has been around the team for a few years and he’s kind of seen some of the trades that Dean Lombardi made and he studied closely under Lombardi’s tutelage. I hope he doesn’t make this same mistakes that Dean Lombardi made. But, I mean, they’re of course his mistakes to make. But I’ll be interested to see who Blake thinks is going to be our next Marion Gaborik. He wasn’t in the front office when the Kings traded for Jeff Carter, but I think being under Dean Lombardi for two seasons, you know I think that kind of will help him make decisions on how to build a roster. I think he’s done a pretty good job so far with the picks that he’s made.

JN: You know, and-and obviously, you know, Ron Hextall was an assistant to the GM. You know, after he was fired from Philly. before he took the job in Pittsburgh a part of me wonders if Marc Bergevin is in that role right now just to basically say like, “Hey Marc, what would you do?” And you do the exact opposite.

RP: I don’t know, I mean Dean Lombardi’s a special assistant to Chuck Fletcher. [James groans] Oh, I forgot about Marc Bergevin. How dare you, how dare bring him up? [Joking]

JN: I’m sorry, I’m sorry. Well with that, before you hate me anymore, we should wrap this up.

RP: Yes, I was just gonna say that.

JN: Thank you so much, listeners. Please feel free to rate and subscribe to Crown Conversations and…

RP: And troll James on Twitter.

JN: Please troll me on Twitter @UlyssesJim. Tweet me pictures of pastrami sandwiches if you could. I’d appreciate it.

RP: So random.

JN: I like pastrami. It’s delicious. It’s tangy. It’s meaty. Don’t be mean to me.

RP: Why not?

JN:Okay, fair enough. I’m James. That is Robyn P. Thank you so much and go Kings go.