The trade season has begun. With the trade deadline fast approaching (February 28th), the Los Angees Kings look to be fairly active in the market, and there is no question that Dean Lombardi will be looking to make a splash if, as he is so fond of saying, the price is right. There are of course some significant problems with making a move this season. The biggest of these is the fact that with the incredible parity in the NHL, there are really very few teams will to throw in the towel even this late into the season.
So in the interest of seeing who might be on the move this trade deadline, let’s take a look at who might be available for the Kings to pursue:
First, there are a few decent names that are officially off the market. Michael Frolik was shipped from the struggling Florida Panthers to the Chicago Blackhawks, who are trying to redeem their fading season. Mike Fisher departed from Canada’s capital to suit up for the Nashville Predators, and Kris Versteeg was shipped from Toronto to the Philadelphia Flyers. That is three potential marks off the radar, and while Fisher in particular probably wouldn’t be a good fit, the other two would have been potentially useful additions to help spark the offense. So who’s left?
Jason Spezza – Spezza has been the face of the Ottawa Senators effectively since he was selected 2nd overall way back in 2001. He was supposed to bring the franchise back to respectability, and despite being the Sharks of the Eastern Conference for a few years (great regular season, awful playoffs), he never quite got them over the hump. The Senators have signaled to the league that they’re open for business when they shipped out Mike Fisher, and Spezza is perhaps their only real piece of value left to offer. If they’re looking to rebuild, Spezza is the logical option to move. The biggest stumbling block? His price. He’s would come with a $7 million cap hit, and is signed through the 2014-15 season. That’s a big price for a player who has never won a Cup, especially since the Kings have so many young players they’ll need to lock up in the next few years. In all, I think he’s a bit pricey, and ultimately not where the Kings will be looking to make their move.
David Booth - Booth is a left winger, which is the position that has plagued the Kings for several years now, and he might be able to fill that all-important hole. The question is, what kind of player can he really be? Two years ago, Booth netted over 30 goals. That kind of offensive potential would be an incredibly potent addition the the Kings offense. This season he’s on a much slower pace, looking to score somewhere around 22 goals. That’s a decent drop off, and something that can be at least partially attributed to the fact that he’s not exactly surrounded by offensive weapons in Florida. The cap hit for Booth is a more tolerable $4.25 million, but he is also signed through the 2014-15 season. That’s a great price if Booth is able to come in and contribute as a 1st line LW, but that’s a big question. If his play never returned to its previous form, he may become a burdensome contract that Lombardi would have trouble unloading. In general, Booth seems far more likely than Spezza, but I’m not sure he’s going to be where the Kings pull the trigger.
Dustin Penner – Maybe the player with the most buzz around him from a Kings perspective is Dustin Penner. From my perspective, I despise the fact that he was a Duck for any period of time. That said, he’s a talented player, that fits the same needs as Booth above. He’s a power forward, plays LW, and has the scoring touch that could be incredibly important. Additionally, unlike the above two players, Penner has a Stanley Cup ring to his name. Even if it is with our hated rivals to the South. Penner netted 32 goals last season playing on an awful Oilers team. The team isn’t any better this season, but he’s on pace for another 30 goals season this year. He’s got the same $4.25 million cap hit, but he’s only tied up through the 2011-12 season which gives Lombardi some flexibility. Ultimately this seems like the best fit for me. He’s skilled, powerful, talented and relatively affordable. The question will be, what is the cost? Some people have been projecting Schenn in a deal, which would be a deal-breaker in my book.
So who do you want? Waiting for the off-season? Or want to make a move now? If so, who do you give up for the player of your choice?
Tags: Brayden Schenn Chicago Blackhawks David Booth Dean Lombardi Dustin Penner Edmonton Oilers Florida Panthers Jason Spezza Kris Versteeg Los Angeles Kings Michael Frolik Mike Fisher Nashville Predators Ottawa Senators Philadelphia Flyers San Jose Sharks Toronto Maple Leafs