a nice two week break another day or so to contemplate the 63 hour trade window which opens at 9PM PST February 28 and closes at 12 NOON PST March 3. The Kings are likely to make the playoffs and find themselves in one of the middle seeds (4-5). Only a total collapse (worse than 3 games below .500 from here on) will result in missing the post-season. So we have to assume Lombardi will be in a mood to do some shopping armed with a very specific shopping list. Me, with all this time on my hands (grrrr, luge!), I want to figure out two things, what I would do if I were Lombardi, and what Lombardi would do if he were Lombardi. Which of course, he is.
First, a list of what we (think we) know:
- Lombardi has mentioned in the recent past that he’s looking at three things. He never said what the three things are.
- I previously guessed what they were. A sniper, a veteran sandpapery bottom-six forward, a second line center and a back-up goalie. I know that’s four things. At the time, I was talking about what Lombardi was looking for (or starting to look for) last summer. Now, I would cross second-line center off the list, and pretend that I put depth defenseman on the list in the first place.
- Note to self: Brayden Schenn will be available when his WHL season is over. Since the Wheat Kings are hosting the Memorial Cup, Schenn won’t be done until May 24. Does Lombardi plan on bringing him up if the Kings are still alive in late May? I would say yes, but would also note that May 24 would be the end of the conference finals, so we should be so lucky.
- Lombardi has said, in the wake of the Kovalchuk non-trade, that the kids have been playing “for each other” and playing too well to do them a disservice by, say, trading some of them away.
- He also said he would not trade Frolov for picks and in so doing make the team worse.
- He did not say he would not trade Frolov at the deadline and make the team better. (my hunch is Frolov stays, and signs for 3 years/$10MM, but what do I know?)
- Williams is
likely not coming back this season.appears to be threatening to come back around the end of the regular season.
- Smyth, Kopitar, Brown, Stoll, Simmonds, Handzus, Richardson, Frolov
are eight skaters who would be in the top-nine come playoff time. We’re one short.and Williams are nine skaters who would make up the top nine come playoff time.
- Moller, Parse, Clune, Purcell and Harrold are a decent utility knife 4th unit. Purcell has had his problems offensively this year, but on d he’s solid. Lowest GA/60 of anyone on the team.
- Cliche has been recalled. Parse has been sent down. I don’t think this will affect much, plan/trade-wise.
- Ivanans in the playoffs? No.
- Doughty, Scuderi, Greene, Johnson, O’Donnell — that’s five who are playoff ready. (I know some/many will want to debate JJ — he makes mistakes, it’s true; but this feels to me like a pretty great time to see what he’s got when the chips are down.) Drewiske, Jones, Harrold…I think Drewiske (still getting his legs back after being hurt) will be good to go by the post-season. The other two…I’m not scared of putting Jones or Harrold in; but it does look like we need another body, a playoff tested veteran defenseman.
- Quick and Ersberg. My guess is DL will stick with EE as the back-up, in lieu of picking up a wily vet. That’s okay with me. I would have been happy to see Bernier a couple of months ago, but I get it. The plan works for me as long as there are no inj****s. [UPDATE: did I read on a message board that Bill Ranford said in a radio interview that Quick “tweaked his back” in a Team USA practice? I assume this is minor if true, or we’d be hearing more about it.]
- Who is available to move? Purcell? Possibly, but DL likes him (I like him; I don’t want him to Moulson on me). Moller? No. Richardson? No. Harrold? Maaaaaybe. Schenn, Clifford, Loktionov, Voynov, Bernier? No, no, no, no, no. Hickey? I would be shocked. Teubert? Less shocked, but in both those cases, it would have to be for a really good player and not a rental.
- I’m going to guess that, unless it’s one of the bigger names, and unless that name has a few years on his deal or is willing to sign, what Lombardi gives up will be mostly picks. And no roster players.
The Kings may well go into the post-season with the current line-up; this could easily happen if the right deal doesn’t present itself. I am 100% sure that the needs are not so dire that Lombardi would overpay to fill them. But, if a deal or two does happen, I think we’ll see two things:
- A forward who can play on the third line (and second line when the need arises), with playoff experience or at least a veteran presence.
- A veteran defenseman for depth.
Which rentals out there fit that description?
My picks would be Steve Ott and Joe Corvo. Eric Belanger. Is Sydor too old now? Probably, but would be some nice symmetry, a good story. I’m sure I’m missing a bunch of candidates, just as I’m sure whatever happens will not be what I expected.