No Need to Get Defensive… or Perhaps the Los Angeles Kings Do


So with my terrible April Fool’s joke now out of the way, it’s time to resume with the serious matters.

With the trade deadline less than 48 hours away, anticipation is growing around the league as to who will go where, who will stay put and which teams will be active. While there are plenty of forwards available, the Los Angeles Kingsare in need of a defenseman if anything – and there are quite few options out there.

February 18, 2012; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Kings center Trevor Lewis (22) moves the puck against the defense Calgary Flames defenseman Cory Sarich (6) during the third period at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sportsz

While there hasn’t been more speculation about landing one defenseman over another, Cory Sarich‘s name has popped up in the rumour mill in recent days. The Flames’ veteran would be an asset simply for filling a spot on Los Angeles’ depth chart much like Keaton Ellerby, with all due respect to the youngster. Unlike Ellerby, however, Sarich is a 15-year NHL veteran who was won a Stanley Cup (in 2004 with Tampa Bay) and his stay-at-home style may complement a Kings team looking to fill the void left by the injured Willie Mitchell heading into the playoffs.

While he is a -4 this season, Sarich, in 15 games so far, has registered 24 hits making him a solid physical presence to go along with his great leadership – although the Kings do have enough of that at the back end with Rob Scuderi. But hey, like Jell-O, there’s always room for more. It’s also worth mentioning that Sarich, while he still has another year left on his current contract, is owed just $2 million next season – more of a bargain that Jay Bouwmeester‘s $6.8 million.

Speaking of Bouwmeester, a change of scenery seems to be just what he needs. Having notched 15 points in 33 games this season, the 29-year-old has re-discovered his stride this season and can help any team on the blueline. His 51 blocked shots make the veteran look more defensive-minded then he’s perhaps given credit for but again, his salary next season will likely leave GMs (including Dean Lombardi) looking elsewhere. Plus (and while this is no fault of Bouwmeester’s), he has never been to the playoffs, which may hurt the Kings more than help them.

Filip Kuba (who was Sarich’s teammate with the championship-winning Lightning in ’04), would be a welcome addition to any team’s back end. Never mind his leadership attributes, the 36-year-old is a solid defensive-minded blueliner who has what it takes to sacrifice his body for the blocked shot or clearing the puck out of harm’s way at the most crucial of times. However, Kuba still has another year left on his current contract where he will be owed $4.2 million.

As for pending unrestricted free agents, Mark Streit of the New York Islanders and Edmonton‘s Ryan Whitney are available. The 35-year-old Streit is a proven leader who can do more than simply fill the void on a team’s depth chart. While Whitney can provide some defensive help, his attitude may be a question as he was known to speak to the media on more than one occasion for his lack of play this season. Plus, after the Ryan Smyth saga, Dean Lombardi may be wise to steer away from the notion of dealing with (Oilers‘ GM) Steve Tambellini again.

So, there you have it. The trade deadline is just around the corner and the Kings could land one of these D-men, go off the board with someone else or there’s a chance they may not even make a move at all. Whatever the case may be, the next 48 hours will prove to be the most exciting (and nerve-wracking) hours of the hockey season for all 30 teams – and that definitely includes the reigning champs.