Klemm’s prospect report

Jon Klemm, a 15-year veteran of the NHL who was part of two Stanley Cup seasons in Colorado, had the opportunity to play with many of the Kings’ top prospects when he started the season in Manchester. Here are his thoughts …

On the overall strength of the prospects: “You look at all the kids down there and they’re all working hard. There’s some good young talent in Manchester and they’ve got some guys still in juniors who are very good. I think the future is definitely going to be bright for this organization.”

On Ted Purcell: “He’s a really talented player. He’s got great hands and great vision on the ice. He’s strong on the stick, tough to get the puck off of, and strong on his feet. He’s going to be a good player in this league.”

On Brian Boyle: He’s a big, strong guy. Once he gets in there and gets a hold of a guy, he’s usually going to come out with the puck because he’s so big and strong. He’s maybe taken a little longer to develop because they’re trying to convert him into a defenseman. You come into this league playing forward your whole life and moving to D, it’s going to be a tough task to get to this level. But he’s getting a lot of minutes down there and he’s improving.”

On Marc-Andre Cliche: He’s one of those guys who’s a great defensive forward, kind of a checking forward. He reminds me of a Stephane Yelle type of player. He’s a guy who can put the puck in the net when given the opportunity but, at the same time, he’s tough defensively.”

On Gabe Gauthier: “He’s one of the guys who is kind of holding up the fort for us down there. He’s not a big guy but he gets his nose dirty and gets into the dirty areas and finds a way to get the puck into the net. He’s a good playmaker too.”

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Injury update

Michael Cammalleri didn’t practice today but is expected to skate tomorrow morning and Crawford said he is probable for tomorrow’s game against Colorado.

“I feel really good,” Cammalleri said after getting treatment on his injured groin. “I’m optimistic about tomorrow. We all felt there was no need to push it, and even if I was ready to go today why not give it one more day?”

Frolov, also out with a groin injury, didn’t practice and Crawford ruled him out. It sounds as though he’s likely to miss Monday’s game against Edmonton as well.

Scott Thornton was limited in practice. Crawford said he’s getting better and should be back soon, and that he’s questionable for Saturday.

Jaroslav Modry was expected to return tonight from the Czech Republic, where he was visiting his ailing father, and may be available tomorrow.

“We’ll see how he is,” Crawford said. “Obviously, it’s a tough travel not to mention how emotional it has to be on Jaro. From that standpoint, we’ll see how he is and have a better answer for you tomorrow.”

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Kings win, 3-2

It went to a shootout and O’Sullivan, Kopitar and Brown all scored. Roenick and Pavelski scored for the Sharks but Brown scored the clincher.

Overall, a very solid victory for the Kings, without both Cammalleri and Frolov. They certainly have the Sharks’ number in San Jose this season.

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Sharks 2, Kings 2

The Sharks scored on the power play. Ozolinsh took the point shot and LaBarbera made the save, but the rebound got kicked out to Rivet. With LaBarbera out off his line, trying to grab the puck, Rivet basically fired at an empty net and scored to tie the game. There are 15 minutes remaining in regulation.

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Kings 2, Sharks 1

The Kings cap a strong period with a goal. Brad Stuart carried the puck into the offensive zone and fired a perfect cross-ice pass onto the stick of Patrick O’Sullivan, who tapped the puck behind Nabokov and into the net. The goal came with 2:06 remaining in the second period.

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Kings 1, Sharks 1

The Kings got a weird one, short-handed. Dustin Brown picked off a pass, skated in alone, drew a penalty from behind (it might have been a penalty shot) and put a shot on goal. Nabokov made the save and, anticipating the whistle, pretty much stopping playing. Anze Kopitar didn’t, skated in and slapped the puck into the net. The goal came 10:35 into the second period.

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Lombardi on hot seat?

I typically dislike commenting on rumors, because anyone can start them without naming sources and 99 percent of published rumors turn out to be exaggerated or just simply B.S. I don’t know the gentleman who wrote the FoxSports.com piece about Lombardi being on the hot seat, and I’m certainly not going to question his motives or sources. And given where the Kings stand — that would be last place in the conference — I suppose it’s fair to question whether Dean Lombardi SHOULD be on the hot seat. Any GM whose team is at the bottom of the conference is going to come under some scrutiny.

I would be completely stunned if Lombardi got fired this year, even if the Kings finished in last place. AEG knew what it got when they hired Lombardi. They got a guy who was going to build from the bottom up, who was going to try to build a base and then go from there. If they didn’t want that, and if they wanted a quick fix, they should have hired someone else. Lombardi’s primary focus from the beginning has been to create quality, youthful depth in the organization. You saw it from the beginning, with the emphasis on draft picks and on trading for young players such as Jack Johnson and Patrick O’Sullivan. To that end, I think Lombardi has been a great success. There are more quality young players in the system than ever before, all the way down to a player such as Wayne Simmonds, who is off the radar right now.

The question is, how does that translate? Not every one of those prospects is going to turn out to be a NHL player. If you consider a talent pool of Boyle, Bernier, Cliche, Hickey, Lewis, Parse and Purcell, just to name a few, the success rate isn’t going to be 100 percent in terms of all of them becoming NHL players. The real question is, how high will Lombardi’s batting average be with these kids? That will be a big part of his ultimate success or failure.

The other question is, can he fill the gaps by signing established NHL players to fill out the roster? So far, I give Lombardi high marks for building up the reserve list, but I think he’s been below-average in terms of free-agent signings, and that’s probably being kind. I’m looking at Blake, Handzus, McCauley, Nagy, Preissing, Stuart, Thornton and Willsie, not to mention the trade for Cloutier. How many of those players to you look at and say, “I’m sure glad he is/was a King”?

I know a Ducks comparison won’t be popular here, but you have to look at what they did. They brought the kids (Getzlaf, Perry, Kunitz, Penner, etc.) along and made veteran acquisitions (Selanne, Niedermayer, Pronger, O’Donnell, Beauchemin, etc.) that panned out. If a team is going to have success, they go hand in hand. Lombardi’s challenge, particularly next summer, is to make some smart veteran acquisitions. So far, I think that’s been his clear weakness.

I’d be happy to hear what everyone thinks on this matter…

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