The LA Kings have been downright maddening at times this season…and the main problem has been known since last season – they need more offense.
Ryan Smyth may be back from injury, but Rhyno can’t carry the top line by himself. Randy Jones may add some occasional offense, but he continues to be a huge defensive liability. Alexander Frolov continues to…well, put it this way – he and Patrick Marleau will both be unrestricted free agents this summer. Marleau currently leads the NHL with 35 goals. Frolov currently…well, continues to be Frolov.
The Kings need Frolov to put up those type of numbers, not be a solid two-way forward that chips in some goals periodically. Wayne Simmonds has more goals right now than Frolov…and he’s played three fewer games than Fro. That’s unacceptable.
Much has been made about the team’s restocking of the system over the last few years and their development of younger players. And while this isn’t a knock on any individual player, the roster is filled with too many kids right now.
A trade for a top six forward needs to be made now, not closer to the trade deadline. The points between now and then are simply too valuable in the uber competitve Western Conference.
The Kings have been averaging about 12 points for every 10 games played. Which could be enough to get them into the playoffs. Most other years it would almost be a lock. However, this season continues to be filled with three point games by a lot of teams.
Do the Kings really want to finish in 8th place and play San Jose? Probably not. Do they want to finish in 7th and play the Blackhawks? Highly doubtful.
Thus, the time for a trade is now.
The Kings have been learning how to win. They’ve been learning how to lose. They’ve also been trying to raise their compete level (the trendy saying of the moment). And Coach Murray continues to preach his ‘shot mentality’ approach.
Yet, the bottom line remains. This team is short on offense and to win games they need more of it.
Some guys that could help:
* Eric Belanger – solid, veteran center…the Kings are terrible on face offs, outside of Stoll…he’s an unrestricted free agent this summer, so could be a good rental player…when I asked somebody in the Kings organization about him recently they said “He’s been one of the best face off men in the league, he’s still got a lot of speed.”…yep, just the type of guy the Kings need – especially if they trade Ivanans to an Eastern team looking for toughness. That would open up a fourth line spot – if so, you don’t want another kid there, it needs to be a veteran.
* Raffi Torres – he certainly would follow a theme of the last few years, picking up a guy that’s had some injuries the few years prior…all jokes aside, he plays wing – which is the most critical need for the Kings right now…right now he has 26 points in 49 games – that’s more than Parse, Richardson and Purcell.
* Ray Whitney – one of the better choices available…he’s a proven top 6 forward with a ring…great character guy…rumor is it would probably cost a second round pick…complicated situation though because he has a no trade clause and reportedly loves playing in Carolina
* Tampa Bay Lightning – two years ago it was heavily rumored that Dean was interested in Vincent Lecavalier, but at this point, it just doesn’t make sense with that big contract…they do have three players that could help the Kings though, each with varying levels of probability when it comes to their availability – Martin St Louis (least likely, has a no trade clause), Ryan Malone (maybe) and Alex Tanguay (rumored to be available and would cost the least)…getting Tanguay would be interesting, as he was available last summer and Dean passed on him.
* Scott Hartnell – another player with a limited movement clause – however, this is the PERFECT guy for LA…some would complain that Dean went after another former Flyer, yet that would be unfair criticism…Hartnell was drafted by and raised in the Nashville system…he plays on the top line in Philly and if you’re going to move Frolov in a package, this is the type of guy you want in return.
* Ilya Kovalchuk – of course, the Kings have been rumored to be in the sweepstakes for weeks…I just don’t see it…Atlanta is going to want (and get) too much in return for a guy that will be unrestricted in July…plus, in the back of my mind I keep thinking about baseball (and we all know how much Dean loves baseball)…GMs there are often warned about taking the best pitcher on a bad team…I have the same concern with Kovi…an alternative from Atlanta might be Kozlov.
* Duck haters beware – two other possibilities include Teemu Selanne and Paul Kariya.
To get something you have to give up something (or some things). Trading draft picks is fine. If the Kings can get what they need with that, great – it’s just highly unlikely to be that ‘inexpensive.’ Trading Purcell isn’t going to get you much in return either. Frolov may get you more than picks and Purcell – however, are you really better off when you swap out his goals for those of somebody else? Not really – that’s replacement, not addition.
So, what’s left? Prospects that still have high trade value. Dean has commented that he probably waited to long to trade Brian Boyle. The Kings have several kids in the system that may still yield a high return. So, the time has come to part with some of the future. Thomas Hickey have been the right pick that year, but how many young defenseman can the Kings really play in the next two to three years? They already have Doughty, Johnson and Drewiske in LA. With Hickey, Tuebert and Voynov in the system, that’s too many young defenseman.
It’s a good problem to have, but somebody has to go.
The future is now. As in right now, not in another month at the trade deadline.
Kings fans have waited long enough.
About the Author: The Mayor of the LA Kings provides news, interviews and inside information at www.MayorsManor.com. His stories have been featured on ESPN, The Fourth Period, Hockey Independent and many other websites. You can also follow along at www.twitter.com/MayorNHL and/or www.facebook.com/MayorsManor.