Blake discusses Jokinen/Cammalleri swap, Gaborik, Kempe, Carter, Iafallo - LA Kings Insider

Several additional notes to pass along on the Michael Cammalleri-Jussi Jokinen swap, as well as Marian Gaborik’s impending availability, as shared by Rob Blake during first intermission media availability. (Stick tap to LAKI Associate Jessi McDonald for the audio transcript while I had radio duties.)

-First, Cammalleri. He wasn’t particularly happy with his role on the team and where exactly his usage was trending. “I don’t think he enjoyed the role that he was in by any means,” Blake said. “I’ve had conversations the last couple of days. … I won’t tell you a lot about our conversation, but what I’ll tell you is we came to the conclusion that it wasn’t going the direction that he wanted it to, and what we’re looking for is … stability in that bottom of the lineup.” Blake declined to answer as to whether Cammalleri had asked for a trade, but said, “…this wasn’t a direction he’d seen him going in and both of us felt we could do something about that.”

-Part of that is because of the emergence of Alex Iafallo. As noted, Cammalleri was brought in to skate with other players whose abilities would mesh well with his offensively inclined skill set, and with Iafallo’s near-seamless fit alongside Anze Kopitar and Dustin Brown, there were different circumstances in October and November than those that had been expected in July. “Well it made Cammy pushed down the lineup, for sure,” Blake said. “I think Alex has been terrific out there. I think he does a really good complement with Kopitar and Brown and we ultimately had Pearson on the second line and pushed Cammalleri’s minutes probably down at regular strength.”

-The trade materialized quickly over the last several days, and Blake likes Jokinen’s ability to play different forward positions and the potential to add structure to the bottom half of the lineup. “I think Jokinen is a very versatile player. Different positions throughout the lineup,” he said. Jokinen hadn’t earned vast special teams time in Edmonton, and may have lost a step when compared to earlier stages of his career, but “he gives you power play and he gives you a little more skill option” in addition to “a stability option, a versatile option,” as Blake said. The team is looking for additional stability in the bottom six. “I think if you take a look, we went through Auger, Brodzinski, Amadio, Crescenzi,” Blake said. “Cammalleri was in and out of the lineup. Brooks Laich has been in and out of the lineup. So, looking for stability somewhere in that lineup? Yes, we are.”

-While there is no exact science on a timetable for Marian Gaborik’s return, it’s beginning to take shape. “Gabby has taken the last couple days full practice and he’s well on his way,” Blake said. “You know, projection, I don’t know the exact time frame. Within a couple weeks. I think we have that trip there, late November, early December we would like to target. We haven’t picked a target date yet, but he’s tracking in that direction.”

-Meanwhile, Jeff Carter isn’t walking through those doors anytime soon, and there isn’t a large enough sample size to get a sense of where exactly the team is at in his absence. “No, and unfortunately, we’re going to have a large sample size by the end of it, by the time he’s coming back,” Blake said. “I don’t think you can replace that. What Kempe has been able to do is the speed element. He can bring that, which is a similar level to Jeff’s and we’ve been fortunate. I know you mentioned Iafallo earlier, but you put Kempe there. We’ve had two kids come in and solidify NHL roles for us. And so it does kind of change the makeup of your team that you probably are looking at two months ago.” Kempe has provided a tremendous presence at the center of the lineup, which does present some challenges, because he’s more of a natural winger who was never regularly entrusted with faceoffs. “We put him at center in the American League, but there were a lot of games where he would finish the wing, and so he’s got to understand the faceoff purpose of that,” Blake said. “You know, you saw in the [first] period here, they pulled him off for Crescenzi for a D-zone draw. You’ll see protection like that, but the other defensive part of it, I don’t. You know typically the Swedes come with a good background in that, and what he’s able to do is make up a lot with his speed and his stick. He’s a smart player.”

-Lead photo via Richard Wolowicz/Getty Images

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