This season: 40-27-15 record, 16-4 in playoffs.
The good: After back-to-back playoff appearances, Lombardi could have taken a “stay the course’’ attitude and simply hoped his young team would develop on its own. Instead, last June, he made a bold move for Mike Richards, and also acquiesced to Ryan Smyth’s trade request and made a deal with Edmonton that freed up significant salary-cap space. With the Kings looking as though they were circling the drain in February, Lombardi called up Dwight King and Jordan Nolan, then made a trade for Jeff Carter. That series of moves put the Kings in position to win the Stanley Cup.
The bad: The Kings finished the regular season with 95 points, just five points ahead of ninth-place Calgary in the Western Conference. If things had broken slightly differently, the Flames would have made the playoffs and, quite possibly, the Kings would be breaking in a new general manager right now. Given all the patience and investment, it’s doubtful that Kings management/ownership would have tolerated a step backward from this team. Lombardi bought himself a substantial grace period by winning the Cup, but will the Kings now take the next step to be a year-in, year-out contender?
Going forward: On paper, it looks good. Over the last couple years, Lombardi and staff have methodically locked up key young players to long-term contracts, while still leaving room for additions. This summer, for instance, he kept everyone under contract but still had enough room to take a swing at a player such as Zach Parise or Shane Doan. Lombardi’s goal is to build a long-term winner, in the vein of the Detroit Red Wings. That will be difficult, because it requires a lot of good fortune, but if the Kings, individually, can play to their potential, the team has a chance to be a winner for years to come.