As I wait (and wait, and wait) for a returned call, here’s the third set of the answers that I started doing hours ago…
Question: 1A) With the team getting younger, where does Calder and Armstrong stand? 1B) With the addition of Stoll and the strong likelihood of Boyle playing next season, does this mean Armstrong shifting to the wing? Our top 4 centers appear to be Kopitar, Stoll, Boyle, Handzus. 2) When Matt Ellis was picked up off of waivers, it was speculated that it might have been with the intent of using him as a veteran leader in Manchester. Is this still the case? 3) Without Cammy, any chance of Frolov-Stoll-Purcell being our 2nd line? Or is it more likely for a FA pickup taking the place of Purcell?
Answer: 1A) At this point, I wouldn’t be surprised to see either of them be healthy scratches on a fairly regular basis. Calder is a bit more versatile so he probably has the edge there. 1B) I agree that those are the top four centers right now, and Lombardi said as much in his comments the other night. Armstrong could indeed shift to wing, but there are many other players who could also fill those third- and fourth-line winger roles. 2) Yes, I think that’s a very likely scenario, especially with this surplus of potential third- and fourth-line players that we’ve just been discussing here. 3) At this point, that’s what I’m looking at as the most likely scenario. Any number of things could change that, but if you’re a betting man, you would bet on Frolov-Stoll-Purcell at this point.
Question: How much of a sure thing is it for Purcell and Boyle to be with the Kings and stay up with them?
Answer: That’s certainly the plan at this point. I think it’s safe to say the jobs are there for them to lose.
Question: Do you believe that the Kings aren’t interested in Khabibulin, and if not, why not? And if it’s not Khabibulin, and the Kings are still looking for a “bridge goalie”, who do you think they’re targetting?
Answer: No, Lombardi said flat out that they’re not interested in him right now. Why not? It’s a huge salary and they don’t see him as much of an upgrade over LaBarbera and Ersberg, plus they’re looking at have one of the prospects potentially fill a backup role. I don’t think they’re targeting any other goalies on the free-agent market. If anyone comes in, it would be through another one of those trades where it’s sending a lower-round pick to a team looking to get rid of a player. The chances aren’t great, I don’t think.
Question: As far as Lubo goes, this is the 2nd or third time that a player has been upset with Kings management? What do you think the consensus is around the league with DL and crew? Do players want to play for them?
Answer: I can’t speak for players, but in general, I don’t players are as emotional and sensitive as some people tend to project on to them. It’s a business and they understand that. Was it a great PR move to trade a guy two days before his no-trade clause kicked in? No, but it’s not as though they skirted the rules or anything like that. The situation got blown up because some of the allegations that Visnovsky made, that perhaps didn’t represent the entire story.
Question: Do you have any feeling that there is a sense around the league that coming to Los Angeles is bad for their career? And also along those lines, do you think DL has been pressed by ownership to play hardball with our contract negotiations due to their proclaimed economic woes? As I see it, we were expected to compete for a playoff spot last year, and as it stands right now, some could argue our roster is weaker now than it as last year. Also, now that we have lost 2 of our top players, with basically only unproven players lined up for next year to take their place, where do you see the Kings finishing next year as the roster stands today?
Answer: 1) Bad for their career in what context? If a player has a coach he feels is stunting his progress, that would be bad for his career, but I don’t know that any players would see joining an organization, in general, as being “bad for their career.” If there’s a negative to the Kings right now, it’s that players know they aren’t going to be Cup contenders this year. That might scare off some players who want to win right now. 2) No, I don’t. Lombardi has a budget and it’s up to him to stay within it, in any way he deems necessary. 3) Good question. When you’re 29th, it’s hard to get much worse. I guess that’s the only positive. When you’re talking about this many young players, it’s likely to go in one of two directions. Either they all mesh together really well and feed off each other and the Kings surprise everyone and finish eighth in the conference…or they bomb completely, as these young players adjust to the NHL, and finish last in the conference again. I don’t think they’ll be “mediocre.” It will go in one direction or the other.
Question: 1) Do you think it was a smart move to trade Lubo. Considering the trouble Dean has had landing any top free agents since he has been hired, starting with Chara, Drury, Gomez, and now Oprik. He seems to only be able to sign second level free agents that he has to overpay. Here was a player who was happy to be here, signed for five years and was one of the top players at his position. Stoll will be a UFA after this year and Greene after 2 years. 2) Do you think Dean focuses too much of his time on drafting/prospects at the expense of the other parts of the GM’s job. I have noticed that the Kings have drastically reduced their pro scouting staff, it now only has four scouts. Do you believe this is contributing to the less than stellar pro acquisitions?
Answer: 1) Wow…I’m really not trying to blow off your question, but it goes SO deep into Lombardi’s philosophy about building a team. I really couldn’t do your question justice with a short answer. I’ll just say this. Lombardi has a very specific, unbending philosophy about what it takes to build a franchise from the ground up. Even I don’t completely understand it, but he’s convinced that he’s handling free agency the correct way. Only time will tell. 2) This is an interesting question and there certainly might be some validity to it. Lombardi focuses a lot on the draft; there’s no question about that. Is the pro staff lacking? That’s a good question and, not having had much experience with other teams and other GMs, it’s not a question I can really answer. But given the Kings’ lack of success with free agents, I think it’s a legit question.
Question: Any word on recent draftees Voinov, Loktionov, Azevedo and Campbell being signed soon as they are eligible to play in Manchester this upcoming season? Also, has DL discussed this scenario. Say Doughty signs his 3 year entry level contract, plays the first half of the season with the Kings and is then sent back to his CHL team for the rest of the season. Since he is eligible to play in Manchester in 2009-10, would it be that big of a deal to have a year come off his contract?
Answer: Again, I think that’s one of those things that falls on the priority scale. A team can’t do everything at once. In this case, there’s free agency, there’s the hiring of a coaching staff and there’s the signing of the restricted free agents. My guess would be that Doughty is the highest priority and then the rest of the picks fall in line behind that. As for Doughty, no, I don’t think it would be a big deal to see a year come off his contract, but I’m not totally sure what the point would be of having him in the NHL for half the year then sending him to the CHL. If he’s here for 40 games, you’d probably want to keep him here and allow him to continue to develop.
Question: Looking at those number of guys, we have too many forwards. Zeiler is on a one way. Is he going to trade a forward or two to clear up space…? This is going to make it tough on all 3 guys to get an everyday spot.
Answer: I understand that it looks like a lot of bodies, but looking at it from a GM’s perspective, that’s very rarely a bad thing. Trades are always possibilities and you never know when injuries are going to pop up. Beyond that, if it’s clear that a guy isn’t going to work out, there’s always waivers. It’s a much better problem when there aren’t enough bodies. If I’m the Kings, I’m much more concerned about who’s going to fill that second-line right wing spot if Purcell isn’t up to it yet.
Question: 1)Can you get DL’s thoughts & breakdown of the Gauthier deal & how he sees him being used? 2)Is Boyle definitely going to be a center or could we see him at wing on the 2nd line with Fro & Stoll? 3)Can you handicap Moller’s chances of making the big club this season? I love this kid!
Answer: 1) The significance of the Gauthier deal really goes beyond Gauthier. Yes, he’s a role player who could fill a 6-7 spot in a defensive lineup, but the Kings also got a second-round pick, and look at it this way. They cleared a spot on the reserve list that can be used for a prospect, right? 2) I haven’t heard of any plans to move Boyle to wing. Doesn’t seem very likely to me. 3) The Kings are high on Moller as well, but he probably needs another year before he’s NHL ready. A year from now, he will have a realistic shot.
Question: 1. why wont Lombardi lock up Kopitar now. He is the rock that this team will be built on and contracts for players like him are getting mor expensive by the day 2. Dont you think that O’Sullivan will be looking at the Kostisyn deal in MTL and say I am worth the same amount. 3. My worry with Lombardi is that he was blown out of town in San Jose because of the Nabakov deal. He has a history of not being able to sign his top players. I am worried that we are starting to see this happen in LA (eg. Cammy)
Answer: I would encourage you to take a look at your first two questions. Look at your second question, when you talk about O’Sullivan sitting back and seeing what other players are getting. Well, why would Kopitar want to sign right now, if he’s sitting back seeing how much these young players are getting? It’s a two-way street here. I understand the sentiment of, “Why isn’t Lombardi signing Player X?” but you have to look at it from a player’s perspective too. If you’re Kopitar right now, what motivation do you have to sign? See what I’m getting at? These things don’t happen because a GM snaps his fingers and says, “You’re signed.” Both sides have to be on the same page and have similar motivations.