Shortly after 12:00 noon on Wednesday, the NHL’s trading deadline will have passed, and fan bases across the National Hockey League will have evolved from assessing the costs to address their team’s wants and needs to projecting the futures of a slightly realigned balance of personnel.
In advance of the trading deadline, I sat down with General Manager Dean Lombardi to try and gain a sense of the direction the team will be heading at the trading deadline, and the efforts undertaken by the Kings’ hockey executives to improve the club.
Keep in mind that tampering rules do exist, and general managers can’t pinpoint players on other teams by name. So don’t expect any salacious details surrounding Player X to be revealed by the club’s executives.
Instead, this multi-part discussion serves as an interesting guide to develop your own conclusions about where the Kings are at, where they are headed, and what type of hypothetical player movement would best give the team a chance to win a higher percentage of regular season and playoff games.
Earlier on Monday, Darryl Sutter referenced the constraint of the cap crunch as an challenge to Los Angeles’ ability to make trades, and that the Kings were confident in playing younger players. “It’s fairly evident that there is a salary cap with this team that affected us in training camp, and we said that we were going to play young guys…and that’s what we’ll continue to do,” he said.
It’s possible that a move may not be made by the Kings. It’s possible that multiple moves will be made. What possibilities are out there? What is the market?
Deadline discussion part two: Supply, demand, and the cap
Dean Lombardi, on the trade market:
One GM told me once a long time ago, ‘Be careful, it’s a suckers market.’ And if you look at the past – if you take out all the emotion and then you take out all the trades made in the last three or four years at the deadline – how many of them really were significant? The Hossa thing made an impact. There have been a couple, but very few. And then you look at the names at times too. Why did we have an eight hour TV show for this? It’s funny. Take the emotion out of it and just look at the list a year later and then look at some of the prices. There’s a tendency to say, ‘I’ve got to do something,’ and then you see a team in your division or conference do something. ‘I’ve got to do something. I’ve got to do something.’ But it’s a dangerous mindset. Plus, we’re not looking that you get better too. There are areas to improve, but it’s not like you’ve got a lot of holes. So now your market’s even more condensed. You even look at the price we paid for Penner, even Robyn. Two second [round draft picks] – that’s a lot. It comes back to bite you…if you’re not careful. Like I said, I think historically just because of the laws of supply and demand, those prices are pretty darn high for rentals. The fact is too, a lot of rentals – with the cap going forward – is, OK, I like the guy, I pay this. But there’s a big difference paying for a three month asset and a three, four year asset. The thing that can happen on a rental if you kind of like him, is then he’s got you…because you’ve paid a lot and you know you’ve to keep him and now you have to sign him cap-wise. So you over pay at times to get him and you might have to over pay on your cap, so you’re taking a double hit. So you’ve got to be really careful you don’t have that luxury that, ‘OK, I’ve got to overspend by a million to keep him because I gave up X, Y and Z.’ That might be cut off to you. There are a lot of things involved there. But I think sometimes we get involved in the mentality of ‘We’ve got to do something,’ and people think you’re doing nothing if you don’t do [anything]. People forget this job is like what Gekko said on Wall Street. ‘I look at 100 deals a day, I choose one.’