The Los Angeles Kings have had a rough season and will more than likely be sellers at the trade deadline.
While they most likely will be sellers, that doesn’t mean that the Kings will be selling assets left and right. They could decide to make minor trades versus trading away big stars like Anze Kopitar, Drew Doughty, Jonathan Quick, Jeff Carter, Ilya Kovalchuk and others.
General manager of the Los Angeles Kings, Rob Blake could go either way. In this roundtable post, a few of our writers have decided to discuss whether or not the Kings should have a fire sale.
When I say somewhat, I mean the Kings should deal pretty much anybody aside from Anze Kopitar and Drew Doughty. The reason for that is because the Kings aren’t necessarily hurting for prospects at this time. They have guys like Rasmus Kupari and Gabriel Vilardi who could be ready to step into an NHL role as soon as next year, as well as guys like Kale Clague, Jaret-Anderson Dolan and Akil Thomas who will definitely be wearing the black and silver in the near future.
Anze Kopitar and Drew Doughty have both been Kings right from the start. Ever since their draft years in 2005 and 2008 respectively, they’ve worn the Kings uniform with pride and have been there for the good and the bad. The Kings could entertain offers on guys like Jeff Carter, Jake Muzzin, Ilya Kovalchuk, and Tyler Toffoli and still bring back a hefty return without having to upset the fan base and damage morale too much by dealing Kopitar or Doughty.
The Los Angeles Kings are having one of their worst seasons since the mid-2000s, meaning they will more than likely end up with a top five pick in the upcoming draft, meaning they’ll have a chance to add a guy like Jack Hughes or Kaapo Kakko to their roster. With this, the Kings are in a good position prospect wise, thus shouldn’t feel the need to trade everybody on the team.
You may have a hard time convincing Kings fans that the future is not all doom and gloom, but there are a few moves that could be made to brighten the forecast.
Nate Thompson could be an attractive trade chip to a contender looking for depth down the middle. He is the final year of his contract and could provide great value to any team that struggles on the penalty kill. His cap hit is an affordable $1.65M and may enjoy a shot at a title at 34 years old.
Recently acquired Carl Hagelin could garner some interest, as well. He is currently on injured reserve, but when he is healthy, he is one of the best penalty killers in the game. Any team that is lacking speed on the wing would be wise to add Hagelin.
If the Los Angeles Kings really want to bring a king’s ransom (pun intended) back to the Staples’ Center, they would be wise to entertain offers for Jonathan Quick. The 32-year-old net minder has five years remaining on his current contract. While this season has not been his best, Quick has always been a big time playoff goaltender. Everyone knows that a great goaltender is key to a successful cup run, and Quick has proven capable by winning Lord Stanley’s Cup twice. With Jack Campbell proving to be a capable starter at the NHL level, the Kings could expedite their rebuild with just one trade.
Should the Kings have a fire sale at the deadline? Yes. Please. Injecting that into my veins. Mired in massive, long, awful contracts, their recent success can no longer excuse their cap mismanagement. No team fighting for last place should have less than 100’000 dollars in cap space. That is absurd, and is only compounded by their extremely thin farm system. Recoup assets, get some lottery tickets, and hope. There are three groups of trade assets that the Kings need to consider moving for futures.
The first group is getting out from under long, heavy contracts. This is simply for cap flexibility, but may require taking on big, shorter contracts to gain any tangible assets. In this group we have the absurdly paid Dion Phaneuf and Dustin Brown.
Second group are guys you can move for limited assets, such as low-level prospects or picks. Throw Carl Hagelin and even Ilya Kovalchuk in this group (if they can’t, or won’t, repair his trade value).
The final group is players they can get decent returns for. Scoring talents like Jeff Carter and Tyler Toffoli could be worth a high draft picks or decent prospects, and the same for defenceman Jake Muzzin. The market on Jonathan Quick is relatively unknown, with top-tier goalies rarely getting traded, but with a contract that will take him to his age 39 season and a slew of recent injuries, he should be moved at the deadline as well.
The Los Angeles Kings are having a not-so-good season thus far, and are looking like sellers at this years trade deadline. Here are some of the names to look out for, as well as potential returns from teams who could acquire them.
Jeff Carter, 34 years old, $5.272 mil for the next 4 years (43 games played, 8 goals, 11 assists, 19 points)
Best return: 2nd rounder OR 3rd rounder + a B-level prospect
Potential teams: Colorado Avalanche, Vancouver Canucks
Jake Muzzin, 29 years old, $4 mil for the next 2 years (44 games played, 4 goals, 13 assists, 17 points)
Best Return: 1st round pick OR A-Level prospect OR multiple 2nd/3rd round picks
Potential teams: Washington Capitals, Pittsburgh Penguins, Minnesota Wild, Buffalo Sabres, Montreal Canadiens, New York Islanders
Tyler Toffoli, 26, $4.6 mil for the next 2 years (44 games played, 7 goals, 9 assists, 16 points)
Best Return: 1st round pick OR B-Level prospect with multiple 2nd/3rd round picks
Potential Teams: Tampa Bay Lightning, Dallas Stars
Alec Martinez, 31 years old, $4 mil for the next 3 years (30 games played, 3 goals, 8 assists, 11 points)
Best Return: Multiple 2nd/3rd round picks OR B-Level prospect
Potential Teams: Washington Capitals, Pittsburgh Penguins, Minnesota Wild, Buffalo Sabres, Montreal Canadiens, New York Islanders
So far, the Los Angeles Kings have had awful season. Unfortunately, it doesn’t appear that the Kings problems will be solved over night. The Kings really need to consider a full-blown rebuild. They have many players over the age of 30 (including Anze Kopitar, Ilya Kovalchuk, Dustin Brown, Jeff Carter, Carl Hagelin, Nate Thompson, Alec Martinez, Dion Phaneuf and Jonathan Quick) and Rob Blake should look to trade these veterans in order to stock up on prospects and draft picks.
A couple of the players listed above could fetch a big haul including Kopitar and Carter. With the amount of teams across the NHL who need a solid play-making centre, Blake should be able to get some valuable pieces back.
If I were in Blake’s shoes, I would look to attempt to trade Kopitar to the New York Islanders. As of now, the Isles are fighting for a wild card spot, but if they were able to add Kopitar then that’d help solidify a playoff spot. Plus, the Isles have many solid prospects like Kiefer Bellows, Noah Dobson, Oliver Wahlstrom and others who they could dangle in front of Blake.
Carter could also get a decent return and the Boston Bruins could potentially be a fit. Plus, Don Sweeney, the general manager of the Bruins could send a pick and an NHL ready forward like Ryan Donato or Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson.
The L.A Kings in my opinion need a full reset. their current expensive core is not getting the job done. They have many aging veterans that are close to if not already starting to leave their prime and they would be wise to trade those players before they become dead assets. Now don’t get me wrong I’m not saying they should trade Anze Kopitar, Tyler Toffoli, or a Drew Doughty, but, they have many other pieces that can bring quality pieces back.
When I look at their current roster I see 5-7 players they could deal in order to clear space and acquire young talent/draft picks. Any of Dustin Brown, Ilya Kovalchuk, Jake Muzzin, Jeff Carter, Jonathan Quick, Alec Martinez, or even Dion Phaneuf should be on the block. While these players all have varying contracts in terms of length, they are all 4 million plus contracts that make up the core of the L.A Kings. They are the players that should be driving L.A’s success, but they are not cutting it. They need a hard reset in order to be successful again.
stats from NHL.com and hockey-reference.com
featured image photo credit – Nikos Michals