Takes and trash talk from both ALL sides of the NHL's most obscure PATHETIC* rivalry

* Thanks, Kevin Lowe!

Monday, June 11, 2007

Kings Off-Season Preview Mega-Post!

(This post is unnecessarily long, so don't miss Mike Chen's post just below it. He makes me look like a jackass by just asking his GM what he's planning on doing in the off-season rather than attempting to deduce it. Damn you, Chen!)

Now that the hockey season is officially in the books, it’s time to look ahead at what is in store for the Kings in 2007-08. The Kings seem to be very involved with free agency rumors this off-season, which makes deciphering what they will do harder than in years past. If only there were someone with a keen intellect and many hours of free time to think about something unimportant rather than trying to get laid… oh wait, that person exists. It’s me! I’m going to go through some of the major rumors and say whether I’d like them and then give my opinion on whether or not they’re likely. As always, remember that it’s just my opinion and that I’m an idiot. And away we go…

Kings sign a big-ticket free agent forward (Daniel Briere, Chris Drury, Scott Gomez, Ryan Smyth)

The Kings should have money to spend this off-season (though they still have to sign Mike Cammalleri) and GM Dean Lombardi did try to sign Zdeno Chara and Patrick Elias last off-season (or so he says). If the Kings were to sign a free-agent, I’d prefer that they signed a set-up man, like Briere or Gomez, because Frolov and Cammalleri can both put the puck in the net on their own. With that being said, I’m not sure if the Kings will sign a big free-agent forward because we have good young forwards coming up and the money would be better spent on the defense. I can’t see the Kings throwing a bunch of money into one player; I’d rather they spent the money they have improving the bottom lines. The guy killing us last year was not Patrick O’Sullivan on the 2nd line, it was that Tom Kostopolous was on the team at all.

Kings sign a big-ticket free agent defenseman (Sheldon Souray, Kimmo Timmonen, Brad Stuart, Scott Hannan)

The Kings have three defenseman that will make the team barring unforeseen circumstances: Lubomir Visnovsky, Rob Blake, and Jack Johnson. After that, there’s the possibility that the Kings may re-sign Aaron Miller, but that’s pretty much it. (I refuse to accept that Oleg Tverdovsky is a legitimate option to make the team.) The guys in the minors who have a shot at making the team are Joe Piskula, Richard Petiot (coming off a knee injury), and Joe Ryan. It seems unlikely that the Kings will be content with that type of defense, however, and will have to sign someone. The problem with Souray and Timmonen is that they are the exact same type of player as Lubo, which brings me to a terrifying point: with all the rumors that Souray already has a jersey made in LA, could Lombardi be thinking about trading Lubo? We could definitely get quite the haul for him, seeing as he’s only making $2 million this year and will be an unrestricted free agent after this season. Maybe Lombardi thinks that Souray is better than Lubo and maybe he’s thinking about getting someone like Patrick Marleau or perhaps a collection of younger players for him. I think the idea makes sense, but… he’s so little and adorable! Anyway, I think the Kings would be better off signing a guy like Hannan or Stuart.

How can you trade this face?

Kings sign a big-ticket free agent goaltender (J.S. Giguere)

The Kings had a little trouble with goaltending last season, in case you hadn’t heard about it. Garon is probably gone and the Kings have Jason LaBarbera (who was a man amongst boys in the AHL) and Dan “Goddammit!” Cloutier as the two most likely to suit up on opening night. Signing a goaltender like Giguere would definitely solve a lot of problems for the Kings and probably get them a playoff spot next year. I don’t think this will happen, though, because Lombardi has already signed a goaltender from the Swedish Elite League (the very Swede-sounding Erik Ersberg) and it seems likely that LaBarbera, Cloutier, and Ersberg will all get a chance in net next season. The Kings could always trade for a guy like Manny Fernandez (though he makes a little too much for my taste) or Vesa Toskala (seriously, we don’t need every player from San Jose), but I imagine LaBarbera will probably get the first opportunity in net, and that’s okay with me. I mean, why not? He’s 27 and destroyed the AHL last year, so why shouldn’t he get a shot? Besides, I generally adhere to the idea that goaltenders are needed to take a team over the top, but they can’t make a bad team a playoff contender. If the Kings signed Giguere, it’d be Khabibulin-to-Chicago redux.
Is Erik Ersberg the answer in net? No.

Kings don’t do anything big

Unfortunately for many, this seems to be the most likely option. I see the Kings signing a guy like Scott Hannan to play with Lubo on the top defensive line. I don’t like Scott Hannan, but I have a friend (a Sharks fan) who swears he’s a dependable defenseman and I believe him. (He also swears that Hannan is not really Dominic Monaghan, but I’m still skeptical.)

I swear, am I the only one who sees this?

I also see the Kings signing a dependable set-up man for the top two lines, perhaps pushing Armstrong down a little. I hate to say it, but there’s one guy who I think would be amenable to signing a short contract for around 4 million or so. It’s this little guy:

(Cue murmurs and cries of "Order!")

I know it’s sacrilegious to think of Kariya in black and purple, but it is really the best option. Kariya makes the team better in the short-term but doesn’t hurt their long-term plan. I don’t know if he’d want to come back to Southern California, or if the Kings are even interested, but it seems like a good fit. Plus, it would definitely give the Kings a “splash” signing that would somehow answer the Ducks, or something. I’d never accept him, but I wouldn’t mind if he helped Frolov score 50 goals. If they made these moves, they’d have a line-up like this going into next season:

(Someone, with Ivanans filling in occasionally)-Armstrong-Willsie



There are some problems with this set-up (mostly that I don’t know if Cammalleri would or could shift back to center and I’d like O’Sullivan to play center some day), but I like this team overall. The Kings are basically getting a free agent in Alyn McCauley, assuming he’s finally healthy, and I liked Lundmark last year. Does this team make the playoffs? Maybe. Does this team compete while not hindering the long-term plan? Yes. As guys get injured, the team can plug in Lauri Tukonen or Brian Boyle or Scott Parse if he decides to sign (rumors are that he will). Let me know in the comments what you think (and please, “your gay” is not constructive criticism). I think this is the best path for the Kings this off-season; whether Lombardi thinks the same is anyone’s guess.


Daniel said...

I would love to see Paul Kariya in a Kings uniform, that would make me giggle. I would have yet another reason to not like him. But if Selanne retires, I wouldn't be shocked to see him in Anaheim either, why the hell not give him another shot, Burke signed Selanne two years ago.

evan said...

"You're gay" would not be constructive, whereas "your gay" would just be bad English.

Go Kings!

Seitz said...

Piskula, Petiot, or Ryan, but not Peter Harrold? I didn't think Harrold looked all that bad in his limited time last season.

RudyKelly said...

Ah, hell. I always dismiss Harrold because I never thought he'd be big enough, but you're right, he should be on there.

Alexander Dubcek said...

Kariya is overrated. He can put up impressive regular season numbers, but I question his worth in crunch time.

If I recall correctly, Kariya hardly put the puck in the net during the Ducks' 2003 run. I seem to recall him having a long drought between the first round against Detroit and the Finals against New Jersey without getting a goal. Yes, he got up and scored in Game 6 after Scott Stevens cleaned his clock. But, had Kariya been a more dependable scorer, the Ducks might've pulled off a stunner four years ago.

In any case, I think a lot of these sorts of moves are still a bit premature, since the priority for next season ought to be developing the core and letting it mature. Adding a top-flight goalie, or a few role players, is the sort of thing the Kings can think about in a season or so, when they'll be poised to make that run deep into the playoffs.

It's not fun to counsel patience, but it's the right course for the Kings at this moment.

Of course, if a big-time elite defenseman became available on the trade market unexpectedly, we could always have someone fall into our lap.

Anyone know about the philanderings of Norris candidates? Is Mrs. Lidstrom happy in Detroit?

KMS2 said...

I agree with the above commenter: Paul Kariya is overrated and past his prime. There is no way he's worth $4 million. I would be very disappointed if the Kings sign him but I don't think Dean will offer him anything.

I think that signing Souray and keeping Lubo is possible and it would be like having Corvo back except that Souray is better.

I'm all for seeing LaBarbera in the #1 spot. He did play well two seasons ago before that "family issue" that knocked him off course.

And lastly, I'm still waiting to see Cloutier get into a fight. When are we playing Ottawa?

Zanstorm said...

No! Not Paul Kariya!!!!
Is a big name forward even necessary? How about a Gomez-type??

Is a healthy Cloutier going to be given a fair shot tho?

PPP said...

Zanstorm, what is with you Canucks fans and your insistence that Cloutier is a good goalie?

The Kings definitely don't need a guy like Souray unless you like seeing highlight reels goals being scored...against you.

Earl Sleek said...

If the Kings signed Giguere, it’d be Khabibulin-to-Chicago redux.

While I think this is somewhat true, I still think that Lombardi has some sort of competitive obligation to bid heavy on Giguere.

Getting the Ducks to overpay to keep Giguere is still somewhat of an offseason victory for these Kings, I think. Lombardi should ensure that the bidding stays high.

RudyKelly said...

I'd prefer the Kings made Dustin Penner an offer, but that's just me being a dick. This year seems like bidding is going to go a little out of control, so I'd rather see the Kings just stay out of it.

Of all the free agents, I think Gomez is the most appealing. He's a center, he's a good set-up man, and he's coming off a bad season (60 points, compared to 84 the year before). If there's anyone the Kings can get below market cost, it's him.

dbushik said...

Well, don't want to detract any attention away from this fine blog and the information it provides, but Rich Hammond of the Daily News has a pretty good one also and has some interviews with Dean Lombardi from the end of April and Start of May that are absolutely full of good information that addresses some of the questions raised here in this piece straight from the horses mouth:


Check out the four posts interviewing Deano (my namesake) for stuff on prospects that might make the jump, what he sees in terms of holes on O and D, the goalie situation, etc.

He even originally had some too candid comments on Clarke and a couple other guys that the Kings asked him to edit out of the post (basically he plainly said a couple guys were not future NHLers).

Anyway, don't want to rain on your parade here because the site and the particular article are wonderful here, but want to point you at some fairly solid info from the GM if you want to see it.

On the goalie situation, how come all we ever hear is he's going to play or he's going to be bought out? Why not give him the Labarbera treatment all next year until some team is desperate enough to trade for him, or until he regains his form and some team is more inclined to trade for him? Even on the cheap.

I'm pretty sure Bernier is still too young next year for the AHL, so he'll be back in the Q. Who else after that is going to be hurt by Cloutier being the starter in Manchester? Quick and Zatkoff still have college eligibility and will likely be back with their NCAA teams I believe. Anyone think the ECHL or back-up in Manchester is not good enough for Fukafuji or Brust? I don't see these two guys as being future NHL starters honestly.

Hope I'm wrong on some of the prospects, but I realistically don't see how sitting Cloutier in Manchester for a year until we can find a suitor to take him off our hands hurts anyone. If you’re already thinking of buying him out, why not just eat the extra 1/3 of the salary over the term ($1M per year) for now and not have to take the cap hit over the next four years (still small at about $1M per year, but for four years)?

Speaking to the forwars situation, one thing from that other DL interview is that we could see him go after a 1-2 center. Kind of surprised me to hear that with Kopitar, Cammi and a number of the young guys being natural centers, but there you go. He also kind of leaves O'Sully out of the conversation, which is either troubling or a simple function of the terms under which he is talking about the future line-up, trying to pin down true knowns.

But back to what you're saying (or 'your' for the speakers of 'Marikan instead of English)...

Paul Kariya is not just past his prime, he's a jerk. He is not a fan friendly guy. I think any Ducks fans whos been around long enough to know will gladly tell you Selanne and Kariya were Jekyll and Hyde. Selanne was a wonderful ambassador for the team, and Kariya was openly hostile to fans.

I personally once saw the guy take a sharpie from a young fan asking for an autograph outside the Forum, as if complying, and then drop kick it under a car and continue walking off ignoring the fan without even pausing or breaking his stride.

I don't want to pretend to judge guys character for the most part, but the guy being openly hostile like that just turns me off whether he's a good guy once you get to know him or not. From a fan or team PR POV, he's no Luc or Marty. I'm sure he's good to his kids assuming he has them...

The Kings actually did make a pitch for Kariya back when he went UFA from COL and signed in NSH, so I don't know how much sacreligiousness (sp?) there is there. Hey, anyone who gives the Quacks the finger can't be too bad, right? :) I mean, at one point not so long ago, Dave Taylor had to make the call between Selanne and Valerie Bure to bring in (before Selanne returned to the Quacks). Good thing we made the right call on that one and didn’t bring in a former Duck. Dodged a bullet on that one… :)

Zanstorm said...

PPP- Cloutier may have faults, but he has rarely had a decent team in front of him either. I just won't bash Clouiter completely until that happens.

Mike Chen said...

I'd love to see Giguere and Kariya sign with the Kings just to watch the healthy amount of booing coming out of Honda Center four times a season.

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