Well, that was interesting, wasn’t it?
At the end of the day, here’s how it shook out for the Kings:
IN: Jaroslav Modry, Jamie Heward, second-, third- and fifth-round picks in 2007 and a first-round pick in 2008.
OUT: Mattias Norstrom, Konstantin Pushkarev, Jason Ward, third- and fourth-round picks in 2007 and a fifth-round pick in 2008.
The loss of Norstrom is a blow to the team from an emotional standpoint, and the strain of it was evident in Dean Lombardi’s voice this afternoon. But this much is clear: with the exception of his wife, there’s nothing Lombardi loves more than draft picks. He’s not happy with the depth of the franchise and he’s trying to stockpile picks at every turn.
I’m most interested in the future of the defense. Forget about Modry and Heward. They are six-week rentals, warm bodies to fill up the roster. After April you can bid farewell to Aaron Miller as well. And Oleg Tverdovsky…well, there’s a better chance that Lombardi himself will suit up for the Kings next season. So that leaves exactly three NHL defensemen under contract: Rob Blake, Lubomir Visnovsky and Kevin Dallman.
Of course, the giant elephant in the room is Jack Johnson, who will fill a top four spot on defense unless the Kings can’t pry him away from Michigan, but it seems likely that Johnson will trade maize and blue for purple and white. That’s four defensemen. The Kings think Peter Harrold can fill a spot, but that leaves a big hole and a big need for a top-level defenseman. Did someone say Brad Stuart? He was drafted in San Jose by…hey, how about that, it was Dean Lombardi. Sheldon Souray would top the dream list of Kings fans.
Anyway, that’s stuff to be discussed in the summer. Kings fans will get a chance to say goodbye to Norstrom when Dallas visits Staples Center on March 21. It was a tough day for Lombardi, who compared the trade to the one he made in San Jose in 2003 when he sent franchise icon Owen Nolan to Toronto. Lombardi pointed out, though, that the Sharks got a first-round pick in that deal, and after another swap they ended up drafting Steve Bernier. Four years later, Bernier is one of the Sharks’ bright young players.
Lombardi also compared the Kings’ trade of Norstrom to Edmonton’s trade of Ryan Smyth and pointed out that despite the great attention given to the Smyth deal in the Canadian media, “What Matty represents to this franchise is every bit what Ryan Smyth represents in Edmonton.” Lombardi added, “I never want to have to make a trade like this again, and the way things are going, I won’t have to.” That was a reference to Norstrom’s tenure in Los Angeles (10 years) and the fact that players just don’t stay in one place for that long anymore.