If we are to take Kings general manager Dean Lombardi at his word, then his trade for goaltender Ben Bishop is all there will be before Wednesday’s deadline.
Lombardi is done. Finished. Apparently, he’s satisfied the team as constructed has what it takes to advance to the playoffs.
Bishop was acquired Sunday from Tampa Bay because Lombardi wanted to fortify the “back end” of the Kings, giving coach Darryl Sutter more depth in goal with Bishop paired with Jonathan Quick, who made his return to the lineup Saturday after a 59-game absence because of an injury.
Lombardi expressed satisfaction with the Kings’ defensive play, especially their ability to keep opposing scoring chances to a manageable number, which is always a subjective statistic. One person’s scoring chance is another person’s routine shot on goal.
The Kings need goals, not goalies, as one veteran hockey scribe noted recently. Their offense tends to go catatonic for extended stretches and their scoring depth beyond center Jeff Carter, who has 30 goals, and left wing Tanner Pearson (20 goals) is highly questionable.
Only two other players had 10 or more goals going into Tuesday, and the Kings’ offense was ranked 23rd in the 30-team NHL before facing the Flames in Calgary. None of the teams in the bottom 10 were in a playoff position, including the Kings.
The Kings’ defense was fifth-ranked, however.
Lombardi said answers to the Kings’ offensive woes would have to come from within rather than through a trade. So, unless he changes his mind or is presented with an offer he can’t refuse, Lombardi won’t be dealing for a forward or a defenseman who can add to a lackluster offense.
Here’s how it looks for the Kings:
One of the Kings’ problems is they don’t have many players they could trade. Sure, teams would jump at Carter if Lombardi dangled him. Lombardi handed out a bunch of bad contracts to unproductive players, presumably as rewards for Stanley Cup championships in 2012 and 2014. General managers around the league don’t want Dustin Brown (10 goals in 60 games going into Tuesday) and the final five seasons of his deal at $5.875 million per season. They don’t want Marian Gaborik (seven goals, 39 games) and his remaining four seasons at $4.875 million per season either. Pearson and Tyler Toffoli are too valuable to deal in a season in which Lombardi believes the Kings can still be contenders.
The Kings need scoring, but it’s unlikely to be addressed through a trade.
The Kings have a little bit more than $3 million of salary-cap space, according to the website capfriendly.com, which is enough to make a move or two, depending on how much salary comes through the door and how much goes out. Money matters, bottom line, and trades aren’t as easy to make as they were before the introduction of the salary cap.
None. If Lombardi keeps his word, he’s done dealing after one puzzling move that failed to address the Kings’ most-pressing need.
Lombardi’s best deadline trades came in 2012, when he acquired Carter from the Columbus Blue Jackets, and in 2014, when he got Gaborik from the Blue Jackets. Carter helped the Kings win their first Stanley Cup championship and Gaborik helped them win their second. Since then, Lombardi’s moves have been disastrous. He sent a first-round draft pick to get Andrej Sekera from the Carolina Hurricanes before the deadline in 2015. Sekera then signed with the Edmonton Oilers as a free agent. Lombardi traded goalie Martin Jones to the Boston Bruins at the 2015 draft in exchange for Milan Lucic, who played out his contract and signed with the Oilers last summer. The Bruins flipped Jones to the San Jose Sharks and he beat the Kings in the 2016 playoffs. Pre-deadline deals in 2016 were as bad, too. Vincent Lecavalier and Luke Schenn arrived from the Philadelphia Flyers, but Lecavalier retired as he intended at season’s end and Schenn signed with the Arizona Coyotes last summer. Another trade to acquire Kris Versteeg from the Hurricanes ended in Versteeg signing with the Flames. Lombardi re-acquired Rob Scuderi from the Chicago Blackhawks, a key piece to the 2012 Cup-winning team, but Scuderi has spent all of this season with the AHL’s Ontario Reign. The jury remains out on a trade with the Dallas Stars last summer to acquire Jack Campbell, who has been the No. 1 goalie for the Reign except for one 20-minute relief appearance for the Kings.
Chances of a trade are pretty slim.
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