In case you missed my LAKings.com feature last week, I spoke with general manager Dean Lombardi, amongst others, in putting together the story of the 2013 portion of the Kings’ 2013-14 season.
Among the most interesting and revealing parts of our conversation was the discussion over forward Dwight King, who will carry 10 goals and 20 points into Tuesday’s game with Minnesota.
…Dwight King has already set a career high in goals and points and has been able to provide some offensive punch at a position in which it was needed.
“Obviously his learning curve is taking a step up. The issue now becomes him keeping it there, and then raising it again,” Lombardi said.
“I don’t think people are surprised at some of the things King’s doing, because he’s always had that type of ability. But now you’re starting to see it, and like I said, the issue is him maintaining it and raising it again, because if you look at some of the things he can do, I think there’s another level there if he wants to put his mind to it.”
LAKings.com: Halfway There
Lombardi, on how Dwight King’s contribution affects how he evaluates the team’s depth and needs at left wing:
I know it sounds as the standard cliché, but the fact is it’s true. You’re constantly evaluating your team, period. That said, the evaluation is in a lot of respects different when you have a lot of young players, and you evaluate them almost every day, because you’re looking at a player who’s nowhere near his potential, and the issue is reaching his potential. So whether it’s Dwight King, Kyle Clifford, even the way Kopitar has raised his game, Voynov – people forget that these guys, a lot of them are not even entering their prime. So you’re evaluating them constantly, where their benchmark is. Obviously his learning curve is taking a step up. The issue now becomes him keeping it there, and then raising it again. And that includes, like I said, a lot of people. We’re a young team, but we’re an experienced team. So that’s a valuable commodity when you are evaluating these guys, because you’re further along in the evaluation curve. I don’t think people are surprised at some of the things King’s doing, because he’s always had that type of ability. But now you’re starting to see it, and like I said, the issue is him maintaining it and raising it again, because if you look at some of the things he can do, I think there’s another level there if he wants to put his mind to it. So, I guess, to answer your question, ‘Does it lessen the sense of urgency on the left wing?’ I don’t know…you’re always looking to improve every part of your team if possible. We’re not at the stage, yet, too – you’re starting to see now buyers and sellers, getting a little of that now. So, to answer your question – part of your answer was ‘What’s also in the marketplace? Is it better than what you’ve got? And I have no indication of that right now. We’ll see how that evolves over the next month or so.
Lombardi, on the trading deadline:
…The other thing that’s changed is a lot of teams that would have players on the last year of their contract or are quote-unquote sellers, they’ve figured it out. I’m not just going to unload these guys because I need assets. Because I still need people to play. So I’m going to keep them and sign ‘em. So it used to be in the old days, yeah, I’d get rid of ‘em because you want to get something for ‘em. Now, they’re looking at stepping back and saying, ‘hey, I need guys to play next year,’ because the other thing, too, is we all see that it’s getting like the NFL where the whole building process, you’re not that far away because everybody’s so close. You’ve got some really good teams, you’ve got some really bad teams…so these teams that might be selling now are thinking, ‘well, we’re a player or two away. But I don’t want to give up this rental. I want to keep him, because I don’t want to be three players away.’ So now it gets back to, ‘OK, what’s really out there?’ Look at the last six years and circle the deals that worked out well, that really had an impact. You’d be surprised.
Lombardi, on the Jeff Carter trade having an impact in 2011-12:
But Carter was a hockey deal. There’s a difference. That’s purely a hockey deal. There’s a difference between a deadline deal, which brings the deal togetheras generally an issue of philosophy. One team’s a buyer, one team’s a seller because of where they are in the standings. The Jeff Carter deal is a team wants a young defenseman, I need scoring. The philosophy of that was that both teams are trying to fill a hole, not create a hole. That’s very different than deadline deals with buyers and sellers, where it’s futures for now. Carter and Johnson is good player for good player filling different positions. So I don’t consider that that type of deal. We would’ve made that deal in November as well as whatever becaue it was a hockey deal and we needed scoring. It just takes time to evolve. Don’t confuse the two, they’re very different.
Lombardi, on Ben Scrivens and Martin Jones providing quality minutes in Jonathan Quick’s absence:
Obviously those guys – they did a marvelous job. There’s a lot of things going on, whether it’s Scrivens…being willing to change his game or adapt to new modes of thinking. That says a lot about him. Then you’ve got Jonesy, who came through the system the classic way, the way he’s evolved through Manchester, and now he gets his look. That dynamic. But the other thing you can’t overlook is it’s a team effort. When you get hit by six injuries, like I think I said earlier, we’ve been very fortunate the last couple years, when we went to the playoffs and we played the same lineup for 20 games. That’s unheard of. I remember saying back then, ‘you’re going to pay for this,’ and Darryl said it, too. It was coming. So we had six, seven guys out of the lineup. But it’s a test. Everybody has to deal with it, so don’t whine about it. Don’t use it as an excuse. You find a way through. So, to me, the way they bound it together and didn’t make excuses and found a way is exactly the way you wanted from a team perspective, and obviously those goalies were a part of it. But when I see their performance, I don’t lose sight of the fact that you’ve got a lot of other guys out of the lineup too, but everybody kind of rallied. And that’s what good teams do. As good as those guys have been, I’m looking at more of a global accomplishment than just their two. But obviously they’re a big part of it.