Here is What is Going to Happen

rick nash

We are a week away from the trade deadline, which has become the annual event that brings Kings fans to their knees, or to Wikipedia to research ancient rain dance rituals; whatever it takes to bring a scoring winger to Los Angeles. This year is no different. Scratch that. It’s the worst yet 

The expectations for this season were the highest in nearly two decades. Yet, the midseason scoring woes are among the worst ever. 

The most angering statistic came out after the second of back-to-back 1-0 losses on Saturday:

  • In Jonathan Quick’s 26 losses, the Kings have scored 32 goals. That’s 1.23 GPG (Goals Per Game). 
  • Calculating the fact that 10 of those went to overtime, the GP60 (Goals Per 60 Minutes) is 1.20 (obviously the Kings didn’t score any goals in OT in those games, otherwise they wouldn’t be losses). 
  • Take out the 5-4 loss against Dallas on Janurary 12, that’s 28 goals in 25 losses, or 1.12 GPG. GP60= 1.09.  

1.09  goals scored per 60 minutes in the 25 games (excluding one outlier) that Jonathan Quick has been credited for a loss. 

I have sided with the players and against the coaching systems in place throughout their futile quest to put pucks in the back of opponents’ nets. I’m starting to turn the corner after reading Drew Doughty’s latest interview on Mayor’s Manor, especially this quote:

Things have become tense once again according to the 22-year old defenseman. The culprit? Those ever-present trade rumors. “You try to not talk about it too much. But, obviously, you hear all the trade rumors and what not. So, it’s hard.”

Admittedly, Doughty is not directly blaming the scoring woes on the tension created from trade rumors- this is more of spin put on the interview. But let’s just go with it.

You know who isn’t worried about getting traded? Players who are producing. Know which teams aren’t concerned about getting their locker room broken up? Teams that are winning. Does anyone think Detroit will trade away any players? Not that I’ve seen.

So this scenario, which at first glance may seem like a chicken-or-the-egg situation is really more like- don’t blame the result on the cause, or as Jack White would say, “You just can’t take the effect and make it the cause.

The cause of the Kings’ goal scoring epidemic will be debated until it’s completely cured (or amputated). There is no real way to find the answer. The bottom line is, it’s not working. It’s not going to with the current pieces in place. They tried putting in a new coach, but as Quisp said, he did not change the message, only the way it was delivered. If Lombardi is not willing to change the message, then his next option is to change the personnel.

Which brings us back to the NHL trade deadline, which is now less than seven days away. Here are Dean Lombardi’s options:

Major shakeup: 

Trading some or all of players like Dustin Brown, Jack Johnson, or another part of what has been labelled as ‘the core’ in a package to acquire an elite-level goal scorer like Rick Nash.

  • Likely result: mixed emotions from fans. Whoever it is will experience a decline compared to their career average PPG, but may still help the Kings’ GP60. There is no single player that can make the Kings score over 2.50 GP60 for the remainder of the season. Thus, it will likely be looked at as a failed transaction unless it somehow causes the Kings to get to the Stanley Cup Finals. Likelyhood: 25%.

Moderate transaction: 

Trading one or more players with significant value that is not a part of ‘the core’: Jonathan Bernier, Andrei Loktionov, Slava Voynov, or Kyle Clifford, in an attempt to find goal scoring help with a proven but not elite level goal scorer: Ray Whitney (who is probably no longer available), Tuomo Ruutu (who is hurt), Ryan Malone (who is old), Ales Hemsky (who does not work hard), Derek Roy (who has an injury history mixed with inconsistent production).

  • Likely result: fans exhale that none of their favorite players were traded while simultaneously being disappointed. Whoever it is will experience a sharp decline compared to their career average PPG, and may or may not help the Kings’ GP60. If it helps the Kings rally to make the playoffs (which will be a challenge) AND win a series, it will be deemed successful. Anything short potentially costs Lombardi his job, or makes 2012-13 his last chance to prove his plan worked/is working. Likelyhood: 40%

Minor transaction:

Trading only part-time roster players, non-elite-potential prospects, and/or draft picks to acquire a veteran ‘character-guy’ (Paul Gaustad) or talented player not currently fitting in on his current team (Chris Stewart).

  • Likely result: fans are angry. They have likely never heard of the acquisition and assume that Lombardi missed out on the big fish or wasn’t even trying. There are too many players who fit this category, combined with not losing any full-time starters and it is tough to predict the on-ice effect without knowing the specifics of the deal. I think a guy like Chris Stewart has a lot to offer and is being vastly under utilized in St. Louis after being relegated to the 4th line. That doesn’t mean he’s available, but it is fueling speculation. Other players like Drew Stafford and David Jones are in the same boat. They could be high upside players that do not cost too much. Few sentences are more Lombardi-like. Likelihood: 60%
A combination of these could definitely happen as well. It will be interesting to see how much Lombardi is willing to deviate from his ‘plan’. The more (in terms of quantity and quality) he is willing to give up, the more he is throwing in the towel on the plan. That is why I do not think it will be too much.
The price is too high on the trade market. Look what Lombardi gave up for Penner. Wouldn’t that first round draft pick have been nice last June? 
Elliot Friedman posted another of his terrific ’30 Thoughts’ series today with focus on the Kings. Also of note was this quote: 
“My latest thought on Rick Nash/Columbus is this: the Blue Jackets will not trade him at the deadline unless the deal is incredible.”

Dennis Bernstein of the Fourth Period tweeted today that the Kings have upped their offer to Jonathan Bernier, Jack Johnson, Andrei Loktionov, plus (meaning a draft pick or prospect). I hope this is as high as the Kings will go, if we are to believe the report. Columbus will likely try to get more or stand pat. The concern from other teams is that Nash shows elite level talent but not elite numbers. The concern from Columbus is that they have to have a LOT to show for trading the only superstar the franchise has ever iced at age 27.

Thus, Nash will probably be a Blue Jacket on February 28. Jeff Carter? Likely not. They’ll be willing to move him for a decent prospect and a draft pick. I just hope that offer isn’t coming from the Kings. Though having a reasonable cap hit compared to his potential, with 10 more years left on the deal and about two and a half left on his knees and shoulder, his contract is as much as a liability as his bar tab. I really think the Kings could find a better option.

Lombardi will make a deal this week, but my guess it that it will be for a player who’s name hasn’t been lighting up the message boards and radio shows. Lombardi doesn’t overpay. The player that EVERYONE knows is available will go to the highest bidder, which increases exponentially with the amount of teams bidding.

Look on the bright side- If the Kings don’t win at least four of the remaining five games in February, you’ll be able to use that playoff fund you started in September for something that would actually be fun this April, instead of paying to watch your favorite team get eliminated because they couldn’t score on a five minute power play at home.

Nothing would please me more than being wrong.

One Response to “Here is What is Going to Happen”
  1. Dominick says:

    Very interesting. No easy answers, but I don’t feel Earth shattering moves will happen between now and the summer.

    I don’t agree that Nash is the answer, but since he refused to look at system as needing an overhaul, he’s kind of left himself with no choices. If he refuses to do something now, he’ll have compounded another mistake onto the ones he’s already made.

    Wish he’d of made an entire system overhaul, and not left it as a talent issue. Since it’s not working, the only move he has left is to try to improve the team is to adjust the talent. St.Louis didn’t make any player changes till system was addressed. Even the Ducks have revamped their system to be more committed to defense. Hell! even the Pittsbugh Penguins changed coaches in February, and won a cup with a complete overhual on system.

    Kings are one of the few teams in the league that will fire a coach, then try to make his system (which was failing in every area of the game offensively) work with a different coach. It’s like he hasn’t been watching the Kings play or something.

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