OK, here’s the first set of answers to some really good questions. Feel free to keep asking, and I’ll try to get through them as quickly as possible…
Questions: 1-Loktionov catch DL’s eye yet? 2-Does Purcell look more comfortable off the ice like he does on the ice this time around? 3-Why did the Kings have to give up a second round pick for Williams, all joking aside I am confused? 4-Any reason why the Kings are 3-O’Sullivan since the trade or is it just a coincidence. %-Now that he is gone was O’Sullivan well like, a hermit or what, in the clubhouse?
Answers: 1) Yes, he’s doing quite well in Windsor. Lombardi is doing a bit of a “prospects tour” after the GM meetings wrap up, but I’m not sure if he’s headed up to Windsor this time or not. 2) Purcell never really struck me as uncomfortable off the ice. So many guys in the Kings’ dressing room have been through Manchester in the last couple years that any player coming up should feel pretty comfortable. There are familiar faces all around. Purcell’s locker is now next to Westgarth’s and Quick’s, so that might help. 3) Because the trade blew up the night before the deadline, and the Kings had to add a second-round pick on Wednesday morning in order to get Edmonton back to the table. 4) If it’s more than a coincidence, you can attribute it to the idea that the trade shook up the room. When a guy like O’Sullivan, who was presumed to be a big part of the team’s future, gets traded, nobody in the room can feel safe or secure. Maybe they all start looking at themselves a little more and say, “Hey, I better step it up a little.” 6) Not at all. He was a major part of the Ping-Pong Mafia and spent a lot of time in the locker room.
Questions: Do you happen to know if there was any interest in either Vaananen (off waivers to VAN) or Antropov (Burke would probably settle for even less if trading him to the Western Conference team instead of NYR). Also, any indication that Lombardi might try to make a run at Ryan Clowe who will be an RFA this summer? The Sharks already are in a bind moneywise and the cap may be lower next year. Even if we don’t get him – which is rather unlikely – why not add to their salary cap problems?
Answers: 1) No, as far as I know, there wasn’t interest in either one of those players. 2) I’m not sure I see Ryan Clowe fitting with this group right now, at least not as a RFA. It’s hard to see Lombardi getting into a offer-sheet battle just for the heck of it. Lombardi is very aware of the karma that comes with that sort of thing. You might remember his “Go ahead, make my day” stuff from the summer.
Questions: 1) Is Dean planning to take another tour of Manchester after the GM meetings? I can’t remember the last time I heard Lombardi was out watching the kids on the farm. Maybe right when Quick got called up and Bernier laid an egg in Manitoba? 2) Do you think DL would sign a guy like Gaborik? He has been injury prone but when he plays he is a world class talent. But would DL want him in the room with a young team building its identity? 3) Do you think the Kings are looking to draft a forward, and if so do you think they need a center or a left wing? Right wing seems pretty stocked right now…
Answers: 1) Yes, he’s out on the road right now. When the GM meetings wrap up in Florida, Lombardi will head north and make a swing to see a lot of the prospects. I haven’t heard exactly which players he’s going to see. 2) I really think that Lombardi goes back and forth on Gaborik. For a long time, I thought the Kings wouldn’t have an interest in him, but I think they’re really intrigued by his ability. There’s an obvious statement, huh? Lombardi sniffed around Gaborik at the trade deadline, but the Wild wanted Alexander Frolov just for a two-month Gaborik rental, and there’s no way Lombardi was going to touch that. Signing Gaborik is the ultimate risk-reward deal. I’ll be very curious to see how closely the Kings look at him. 3) It’s funny…someone asked Lombardi this question not too long ago, and I fully expected him to talk about forwards, but instead he related defensemen to pictures and said you can never have enough. I suppose the thing about the draft is, you’re drafting guys with the thought that they won’t make the NHL for three years or so. So while the immediate need is for forwards, perhaps Lombardi thinks his needs will be different in a few years. I still think they’ll draft a forward, but Lombardi isn’t exactly known for conventional thinking.
Questions: 1) With the trading of O’Sullivan, do you think Frolov becomes the remaining viable trade option to land a Kovalchuk type player? I can’t see picks and prospects getting it done. Or do you think we solve our sniper issue through free agency? 2) When Williams returns which player do you think becomes our nightly healthy scratch? Murray seems to think we need a tough guy in the line-up so who does that make the odd man out? 3) There has been a lot of discussions as to why Edmonton was so pissed about us getting Williams? If they coveted Williams so much why not a Cole for Williams trade? Seems to me they may have dropped the ball on this one.
Answers: 1) Among the players still on the roster, yes, I’d say Frolov is the last remaining big “chip,” but I still think it’s better than a 50-50 bet that a big top-six forward will come via free agency. I agree that a Kovalchuk-type impact player would take more than prospects and picks, so it will be interesting to see how things evolve with Frolov, both on the ice and how things start to look contract-wise. 2) Good question. Armstrong is the easy answer, but then who is the fourth-line center? Handzus and Moller have looked good together, and Stoll is the only other center. Harrold might get knocked back to defense, by default, but given the minutes he has received of late, it would seem that Terry Murray really likes him on the wing. We’ll see. A lot can happen in two weeks, but I suppose right now I’d have to see Harrold get bumped to defense and Gauthier on the bench. 3) I’d have to guess that O’Sullivan was the player they were coveting, not Williams, plus they thought the Kings were getting too much and/or didn’t want to see Williams in their conference. Who knows? GMs are weird.
Question: Dean Lombardi has included O’Sullivan as being one of the Kings “core” players many times in his interviews. Now that he got traded, do you think it affects the other “core” players on the team in terms of loyalty from the team? It would seem that any one of them can go from “core” player one day to being traded the next.
Answer: That can happen on any team, in any sport, at any time. Believe me, players are professionals and they’re realistic about their profession. If anything, I’ll go back to a previous answer. A trade like this can serve as a wake-up call to some guys. They might look at it say, “If he can go, I might be next.”
Question: 1) What do you think of the O’Sullivan trade? I, for one, love it. 2) If you were a betting man, will the Kings make the playoffs?
Answers: 1) I pretty much posted my thoughts on it the day after the trade, in length. In short, it’s a high-risk, high-reward trade. If Williams stays healthy and regains his pre-2007 form, the trade is a winner. If he’s the second coming of Jason Allison, it’s a loser. I’m just surprised that Lombardi chose this move as his first big move for a forward. But we’ll see. 2) No, I don’t think so. They will be close, and they might be in it until the last few games, but the schedule is brutal and there are too many teams ahead of them.
Question: How much do you get to interact w/ opposing teams players, coaches, and announcers? What do they have to say about the way the Kings are playing and the future of the team?
Answer: Other than players and coaches who are former Kings, I really don’t communicate with a lot of people from visiting teams. It would be visiting media, more than anything. I’ve read and heard nothing but praise about the Kings, particularly in terms of the development of young players.
Question: to what extent do you think the emergence this season of simmonds and moller made o’sullivan expendable? with the end of the season approaching, simmonds and moller are clearly established in the nhl, and purcell seems to have turned a corner, so how do you see the prospect depth chart shaping up going into the summer, with regards to both forwards and defense?
Answer: That’s a very good point, and yes, I do think the fact that players such as Moller and Simmonds proved they can play in the NHL allowed Lombardi to accelerate his thinking a little bit. I’m sure people get tired of hearing about Lombardi’s “boxes,” but by proving they can play in the NHL, Moller and Simmonds filled two boxes. That allowed Lombardi to look at the rest of the board, see which holes he still needed to fill and evaluate what was expendable. In this case, whether you agree or not, that was O’Sullivan. So yes, if Moller and/or Simmonds had flopped, I’m sure Lombardi’s board would look a bit different. As for prospects, you’d have to think that Trevor Lewis is the next-most-likely forward to take a step up. It’s going to be very intriguing to watch all the young defensemen in training camp. There’s a whole group of guys who have the potential to move up, depending on how they play and how many spots are open. That will be the big battle of training camp.