NHL Trade Deadline Countdown: Are the Kings still shopping?
Lombardi could stand to add forward depth.
After major deals went through earlier in the week, today's deadline day has been slow. However, since a flurry of deals came down right at the wire last year, let's take one last look at where the Kings stand.
The Kings rightly view themselves as strong contenders, but they could use another forward. First we'll look at who they might trade; next, whom they might target.
Possible Trade Chips
Jonathan Bernier has been listed as "most likely to move" at trade deadlines for years, but he's become a valuable member of the team while Jonathan Quick is fighting to return to form. Bernier could still be one of the Kings' biggest assets to move in the right deal, but Lombardi has pointed out the importance of keeping him around. Having some insurance in net is probably more important than any other upgrade the Kings could make.
Some thought Dustin Penner would be on the move, but since he injured himself in the game against Dallas, he cannot be traded. After sending Simon Gagne back to Philadelphia earlier in the year, this has left the Kings even thinner at left wing. Unless someone shifts out of their natural position, there is still a hole in the top six. Lombardi is probably looking to fix that.
The Kings' core forwards are locked up, but some players in the bottom six may be of interest to teams looking for young, physical grinders. Dwight King and Jordan Nolan have had an up-and-down sophomore season, but at only 23, may have the potential to do more. Kyle Clifford drew heavy interest from Vancouver last year, and could be even more attractive to other teams after his play rebounded. "Grit" is the buzzword of the week for GMs hoping to make the playoffs, and the Kings have that in spades if they're willing to sell.
Brad Richardson and Trevor Lewis are also useful utility forwards who are pending free agents.
Matt Greene is slated to return near the playoffs, so the Kings may move another defenseman besides Drewiske. Regehr will be slotted in, and with Muzzin having a good rookie year, some have argued that Keaton Ellerby or Alec Martinez are expendable.
From what I've seen of Regehr this season, he's more on Matt Greene's level than Willie Mitchell's. I'd like to see him start on the third pairing with Martinez over Ellerby. Ellerby is very much a work in progress, and though the Kings see potential there, he is not as good at getting the puck up the ice. We know Martinez can slaughter third-pairing minutes if given an experienced partner. His speed can also help out a slower guy like Regehr.
The key to the Kings' successful defense pairings has always been balance. Martinez gives them more options until Greene comes back (and beyond).
Unless it's for a significant upgrade, I hope the Kings stick with their d-corps.
Sniper Tyler Toffoli, AHL scoring leader Linden Vey, and LW Tanner Pearson are probably the Kings' most NHL-ready forward prospects, and could be swapped for the right kind of player. On the other hand, their cheap contracts could be important for the Kings when trying to get under next year's cap. 2010 first round pick Derek Forbort and Nic Deslauriers are their top trade chips on defense.
Trade Targets: Forwards
Who could the Kings want to buy? Buffalo and Calgary are in the middle of a fire sale. If the Kings want to add more scoring depth, here are some players who could be of interest.
Curtis Glencross, LW, Age 30 (signed 2 more years x $2.55M). An effective LW on a bargain contract, teams should jump if he's available. However, he secured a no trade clause in his four year deal precisely because he wanted stability. He and his wife own a farm near Calgary. The Flames may not want to move him, either; rebuilding teams still need to ice a roster.
Lee Stempniak, RW/LW, Age 30 (signed 1 year x $2.5M). The Royal Half's favorite rival looks good by both advanced and traditional stats. Also capable of slotting into the second line. Another sweet contract.
Jason Pominville, RW, Age 30 (signed 2 years x $5.3M). The Sabres' captain is a terrific player who would be welcomed on any team; as such, he'd carry a huge price in trade. He's worth his cap hit, but the Kings would need to overhaul another part of their roster to fit him in under next year's cap if they want to re-sign Voynov and Scuderi.
Drew Stafford, RW, Age 27 (signed 2 years x $4M). Recently a healthy scratch in Buffalo; they'd love to unload him. Inconsistent and expensive. Cashed in on one 30-goal season with unsustainable shooting in 2010-11. (Do not want.)
Alex Tanguay RW/LW, Age 33 (signed 3 years x $3.5M). One of the best passers in the league; also a selective and efficient shooter. He and Ilya Kovalchuk are the only two forwards in the NHL who have been able to sustain an unusually high shooting percentage in their careers. On the flip side, his contract ends when he's 36. He's a gamble.
So there you have my take. Feel free to argue with me about any of the above. Who would you be willing to trade, and who would you like to get?