Here’s the first set of the answers from yesterday. These might be the best questions ever, so it’s been a lot of fun answering them. For those just getting to work on a Monday morning, feel free to continue adding your own questions to the “Open Forum” post.
Question: Rich any word on signing Patrick O’sullivan before July 1st and are you worried about a team like Edmonton offering a huge deal?
Answer: No “word,” per se, as teams and agents don’t really issue updates about this sort of thing, but there’s really no concern that something won’t get done. The better question at this point, I think, is, will it be a long-term contract or a short-term contract? You’ll know things went well if it’s a multi-year contract. If it’s just a one- or two-year deal, chances are there is some distance between the Kings and O’Sullivan’s agent, just as the Kings were never able to get Cammalleri on a multi-year contract. I wouldn’t worry about an offer sheet. I don’t think you’ll see that “Wild West” mentality return this summer, mostly because of teams’ financial concerns, but we’ll see.
Question: It really doesn’t seem like to me that we got good return value for Cammalleri. Has Lombardi said anything that would address that concern among fans or explain why that would be a misconception?
Answer: It would be a misconception only because that’s what the market dictated. I’ll admit, when the trade was announced I was a bit surprised that the Kings didn’t also get a “NHL player” in the deal. But I came to find out that the market really wasn’t conducive to what Lombardi was trying to do. He really wanted to get back into the top 15 or so, to get Teubert, and teams that held those picks just weren’t budging. And the market for Cammalleri was tough because he’s a “lame duck” player who already made it clear, last summer, that he thinks he’s worth big money. Tough combination there. That’s why Lombardi had to pull a third team into the deal. Did he give up a shade more than he wanted to? Maybe, but I don’t think he’s kicking himself about it.
Question: I can’t believe all Cammalleri was work was moving up a few spots in the draft. Am I totally missing the boat? Has their been a transaction by Lombardi where he got more than market value, because I don’t see it.
Answer: See the above answer. As for getting fair market value on a trade, that’s open for every fan’s interpretation. There’s really no way to quantify who “wins” or “loses” a trade until things shake out.
Question: Is Lombardi going to sign Rob Blake to a 1 year deal? What are the chances that Brad Stuart will return to LA?
Answer: Shaking my Magic 8-Ball…signs point to yes, on both. The Kings like Stuart and would like to see him return. But given the lack of quality defenseman on the free-agent market, there’s probably a 50-50 chance that some team will swoop in and give him a bigger deal than the Kings are willing to afford. Stuart helped himself with his playoff performance. Chances are Blake will be back. By all accounts, he’s motivated to play another season and certainly wants to stay in L.A. The Kings need some veteran defensemen. So it fits, even with the ever-present concern about Blake’s health.
Question: What are the chances we see Tuebert or Wayne Simmonds in a Kings jersey next season?
Answer: It’s unscientific, but I’d say 20 percent on Teubert, 10 percent on Simmonds. Although I must say, Simmonds is one of the players I’m most looking forward to seeing at the prospects camp. It will be interesting to see how much improvement he has made since last year’s training camp. He’s a year away, I would think. And I think it’s unrealistic to think both 18-year-old first-round draftees will be playing on the blue line next season. Doughty has a much, much better chance.
Question: Any word on a new coach, and who do you speculate it might be?
Answer: No word. The Kings aren’t even going to interview anyone this week. They’re putting their immediate focus on the free-agent signing period, which starts July 1. There’s no rush. Tampa Bay is the only other team without a coach and they’re about to hire Barry Melrose. Lombardi knows he MUST get this hire correct, because frankly, if this coach doesn’t work, the coach and GM would probably be headed out the door together. So he’s doing the correct thing, which is to take his time and find the right fit. It’s very difficult to handicap this hire, because the Kings have made it clear that they’re very willing to hire a coach with no NHL head-coaching experience. So, literally, it could be just about anyone. Mike Johnston is the only known candidate but I don’t think it’s fair to say he’s the “favorite.”
Question: What do you think the chances are of both Doughty and Teubert cracking the opening night line up? If Teubert doesn’t make the team out of camp, would he be required to report to his junior team for next season?
Answer: Doughty has a better than average chance. Maybe 65 percent. It will all depend upon how comfortable he looks in training camp and how comfortable the Kings feel playing him in the NHL as an 18-year-old defenseman. That can be tough and they don’t want to overwhelm him. Teubert is 18, with only three years of junior hockey. So yes, he would return to Regina next season if he doesn’t make the Kings.
Questions: Is Brad Richardson slated to play for the Kings or the Monarchs next year? Aren’t we a little heavy at center on the 3rd and 4th lines?
Answer: He’s not “slated” for anything right now. That will be determined in training camp. I think it’s fairest to say that he will be in competition for a spot on the third or fourth line. To say any more than that would just be speculation. Who knows what the new coach’s style will be, right? As for likely NHL-caliber centers, the Kings have Anze Kopitar, Michal Handzus, Derek Armstrong, Brian Boyle, Richardson and, perhaps, Brady Murray. To be honest, that doesn’t seem like a huge problem to me.
Question: Who will be their top six? And from what you saw in your private meeting, how many players or moves did you hear about that actually happened?
Answer: The top six, to me, looks like O’Sullivan, Kopitar, Brown, Frolov, Handzus and…the battle to replace Michael Cammalleri, which should be one of the more intriguing storylines of training camp. That and, can Handzus finally claim that No. 2 center’s spot? Is Brian Boyle really ready for it? I’m not sure which “private meeting” you’re referring to. The meeting with the scouts, as I wrote at the time, involved them discussing lower-level prospects. If you’re asking, in general, how much of what I heard turned into reality, well, I expected either Cammalleri or Visnovsky to be traded and I expected the Kings to take Doughty. So obviously those happened. I didn’t anticipate them trading for Brad Richardson, but I knew they were looking for a center in the first round (if they kept the No. 28 pick) or second round, so Richardson perhaps filled that need.
Answer: Dean stated he is looking for free agents who are willing to sign short-term deals. How realistic is it to attract good free agents when they know they are not part of a younger core ? Also, do you think that the Kings now need to try to sign older defensemen that can help bring along all the younger defensemen ?
Answer: Well, they’re not going to get Marian Hossa that way, but they’re not looking at Marian Hossa. I know this is an unpopular word in some circles, but this summer they’re still looking for that “bridge” type of player, particularly on defense. Your best-of-the-best free agents are looking for five- or six- or seven-year deals. That’s not the Kings’ emphasis right now. They’re looking at guys who are motivated to help a young team build and start winning. And yes, I think they do need a couple older defensemen. If things hold up, Blake would be one, but I do believe they need another. Stuart turns 29 in November and he just won the Cup. That would work, but if not Stuart, they need a veteran in that spot, I believe. Tom Preissing is there also.