I look like the Kings are going to miss out on a big FA signing yet again this year. Whereas in the past this might have been an unforgivable sin committed by Lombardi, this year it may be considered almost reasonable. If Kovalchuk signs for $9-10 million, it might even be considered a bad move for the Kings to take on the contract. Especially considering the fact that he’s not likely to sign for one or two years. He’s in for the long haul, and if the contract gets too burdensome it would be hard to move because of its length and value.
So if the Kings miss out on Kovalchuk as the reports indicate they will, who is left? Some reports indicate that they may turn their attention to Simon Gagne of the Flyers. If that’s the case, it’s an interesting move, and might be a worthy one, if the price isn’t too high. Perhaps the Flyers would be willing to take a smaller return so that they can free up his $5.25 million under the cap and grab a top notch goaltender? I like the move, but only if it’s for a relatively small return, especially since he’s only got one year remaining on his contract and may end up basically a rental.
If the Kings turn to the free agent path, where do they go? Interestingly, the best choice remains Alexander Frolov… they could look to Willie Mitchell to shore up the defense, or Lee Stempniak if they feel they can handle his streaky play. The choices are less than glorious for the Los Angeles Kings, and so as many have hinted, it looks like they may need to turn to the trade market. With a need for a top 6 winger, and a top 4 defenseman, the trades could get fairly expensive. Certainly Lombardi is reluctant to scour his prospect stock, but he’s certainly capable of making a big move if the time calls for it.
Hold out a bit of hope. It’s certainly not outside of the realm of possibility that Lombardi calls Kovalchuk’s bluff, to determine if he really wants to come to a winner. They could end up in the Stanley Cup Finals, but I’d put serious odds against him succeeding if he ends up in New Jersey. There’s no question he’d make the playoffs regularly, but the Devils are on the downside, and it’s going to get worse when Brodeur inevitably retires. The Kings are on the upswing and ready to do some damage. If he’s in it for the money, we lost going in to these negotiations. If he’s in it to prove he’s more than a regular season scorer, Los Angeles is the only good choice… tragic to realize that it appears to be all about the money for him.