There was quite a bit more from Wednesday’s extended question-and-answer session Kings general manager Dean Lombardi held with reporters after the NHL trade deadline passed: Lombardi talked about why he didn’t make any blockbuster moves in my earlier post. But he also explained why keeping a winning roster intact is so important to establishing a consistent winner. Here what Lombardi said in his own words:
The Kings didn’t chase Jarome Iginla before the trade deadline, and he eventually went from the Calgary Flames to the Pittsburgh Penguins. The Kings also didn’t pursue Jaromir Jagr or a half-dozen other players who were dealt before Wednesday’s deadline. Why not? Kings general manager Dean Lombardi didn’t want to break up the Stanley Cup champions in order to rent a player for the short haul. The move he did make, adding veteran defenseman Robyn Regehr from the Buffalo Sabres for second-round draft picks in 2014 and ’15, was designed to bolster the Kings’ blue line for the long term.
Here’s more about Lombardi’s thinking from Lombardi himself:
Kings general manager Dean Lombardi acquired veteran defenseman Robyn Regehr from the Buffalo Sabres on Monday for a pair of second-round draft picks to bolster the team’s blue line for the stretch run and the playoffs. Lombardi on Wednesday discounted the notion that Regehr would be simply a rental player, however. Lombardi said “there’s a good chance” the Kings can re-sign Regehr, who is in the final season of a five-year, $20.1-million contract he signed while with the Calgary Flames. “We’re looking at this as a guy that can fit here for a number of years,” Lombardi said of the 32-year-old Regehr.
Nashville Predators defenseman Shea Weber was awarded $7.5 million today in arbitration. That’s the highest arbitration award in NHL history, surpassing the $7 million award to John LeClair in 2000.
Weber also becomes the game’s highest-paid defenseman, surpassing Brian Campbell’s $7,142,875 average annual salary through 2015-16.
The arbitration award probably comes as bad news for Nashville, certainly comes as great news to Weber, and can’t be bad for Drew Doughty. With Doughty and the Kings still working on a new contract, Weber’s salary will certainly become a bargaining chip on Doughty’s table.
But how much is that chip worth?
Kings GM Dean Lombardi was asked essentially that very question last week, following Mike Richards’ introductory press conference.
“I think (Weber’s contract) gives you some evidence, but even he’s different because he’s a year from (unrestricted) free agency,” Lombardi said. “That’s one of the hard parts you’ve got here – there’s not a lot of defensemen, other than Dion Phaneuf, Duncan Keith, there hasn’t been a lot-a lot of these top young kids who have gotten top dollar, most of them are forwards. You’ve got a big hole in the market of what defensemen are (worth). You could even say (Keith) Yandle, there’s a similarity in numbers but he’s older than Drew. So he’s not totally analagous. You could say Weber – but he’s older, he’s one year away.
“So is it relevant? Yes, but it’s a question of how much weight you really give it. You’ve got a lot of these things that are out there, throw in the fact that the CBA is going to be up …you’ve got all of these little issues, piece in how much weight you give each one, then put it all together.”
Doughty earned $3.475 million including bonuses last season in the final year of his entry-level contract, according to capgeek.com. Like Weber, he’s already finished second in the Norris Trophy race. Doughty can argue that his 43 assists and 59 points in 2009-10 were both better than Weber’s single-season career bests, but Weber boasts four seasons with at least 16 goals. Doughty dipped to 11 goals and 29 assists last season; Weber had 16 and 32, respectively.
Most important to remember, an independent arbitrator will not have the final say of how much Doughty makes. The Kings will certainly try to convince Doughty’s camp to be flexible with the structure of his next contract by asking him to consider the bigger team picture.
“Our biggest concern is fitting it into a salary structure that allows us to -that’s our biggest concern. However you come to the number, the bottom line is making that number fit in where you are and where you want to go,” Lombardi said last week.
Lost among the quotable “Dry Island” denial soundbites thrown out Wednesday, when Mike Richards met the local media for the first time since his trade from Philadelphia, maybe the most revealing nugget of Richards’ press conference is that he still doesn’t know why he was traded.
At the very least, even if he does know why he was traded, Richards isn’t ready to divulge that reason publicly. In the meantime, speculation will continue.
Kings general manager Dean Lombardi has his own take: It was a good hockey trade.
“It’s one of those deals that should work out for everybody and satisfy each of our needs,” he said. “We gave up two good players. Philly did just fine.”
That’s my starting point for tomorrow’s story. A couple other points of note from Lombardi:
During a sprawling end-of-season interview with reporters last week, I asked Kings general manger Dean Lombardi about his team’s overtime problem.
Whether it was 4-on-4 during the regular season (when they went 1-4) or 5-on-5 during the playoffs (when they went 0-3), the Kings didn’t take kindly to the whole sudden-death thing. Of course in the regular season, there was always the promise of a shootout to bail them out; no team did better in the skills competition last season than the Kings (10-2).
But that didn’t mean much in the playoffs. As many observers feared, the regular-season trend continued and the Kings lost all three overtime games against the Sharks, costing them the series.
Is there something to that?
“You wonder that if you get to an overtime that that’s when now it swings more toward the offensive side of the equation,” Lombardi said. “It was said to me yesterday, actually … ‘defense wins games, but offense wins overtimes,’ is the way it was put to me. This hockey person is pretty sharp. He wasn’t sure on it, but if you think that, there might be something to that.”
Justin Williams has signed a four-year extension that will keep him in Los Angeles until 2015. According to multiple reports, Williams will earn $3.9 million, $3.9, $3.75 and $3.05 million. That averages out to an annual cap hit of $3.65 million.
Williams has been unusually healthy this season, appearing in all 62 games and ranking second on the Kings in points (49), third in assists (29) and tied for the team lead in goals (20).
“What he’s given us doesn’t surprise us,” general manager Dean Lombardi told reporters at team headquarters earlier today. “This is a good hockey player. … That ‘connect the dots’-type guy, we need that, and that’s what he brings.”
The Kings reeled in the biggest fish at the NHL trade deadline, acquiring left wing Dustin Penner from the Edmonton Oilers for defenseman Colten Teubert, a first-round 2011 draft pick, and a conditional third-round pick in 2012.
ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun wrote on Twitter that the 2012 pick will become a second-round pick if the Kings win the Stanley Cup.
Update: General manager Dean Lombardi told reporters at team headquarters in El Segundo that the trade ultimately came together Monday.
“When we left here late last night, everything was still very much in the air,” he said. “In terms of this having me going to bed last night thinking this was done, we were far from it.
“This is (one of) those times when you look at your locker room and say, they deserve some help in strengthening our locker room, making us a better team.”
First, the game:
The Kings dominated for 50 minutes before taking a string of penalties that allowed Colorado to score three goals — on its final three shots — to make the final score look closer than the game actually was.
“We definitely can’t be taking penalties that late in the game,” Drew Doughty said. “You see what happens, they almost caught up and took it to OT and that’s not something we want to be doing. We’ve got to learn from it, but [we're] happy with the game.”
The Avs were outshot 42-17 en route to losing for the 14th time in their last 16 games.
Anze Kopitar scored for the third time in his last three games, officially ending his drought. Alec Martinez, Doughty and Jarret Stoll all connected on long shots, the latter two coming on the power play.
Jonathan Quick made 14 saves for the victory. He got burned when he mishandled the puck behind the net — or miscommunicated with his defense, or both — which led to a Paul Stastny goal in the final minute.
The Kings’ 42 shots on goal set a new season high, and the 17 shots against were two off a season low. Considering the Kings spent 13:36 on the power play — almost a quarter of the game — it’s no surprise.
“We made it interesting at the end just through getting too casual, a little careless with some plays at critical times at the game,” head coach Terry Murray said. “You go into the third period with that kind of scenario you want to make sure you’re able to lock it down. Good teams do. You don’t get reckless or careless and start taking some penalties, especially the high sticking penalties. … We have to clean that part of it up right away.”
Now, about Sturm getting claimed off waivers by Washington and its implications:
A quick interview with Dean Lombardi…
Question: How did this one come together?
LOMBARDI: “We were trying to avoid what happened last year with Orpik. It was the exact same situation. With Orpik last year, we knew what Pittsburgh offered, and we made our offer but the (current team) is always going to get the last chance, and they got him. In this case, we found out what Pittsburgh was offered and we knew we just had to blow them out of the water. When you’re talking about offers, it’s not just the money. It’s cost of living in L.A. and it’s taxes. If you’re offering $500,000 more, it’s really not that much when you look at everything. So we knew we had to blow Pittsburgh out of the water, but we wanted this guy. He has a ring and there are no questions at all about his character.”
Question: Where do you see him fitting in with the guys already here?
LOMBARDI: “He’s a steady guy who can go with Doughty and a steady guy that can go with Johnson. We like the guys we have, the Quinceys and the Greenes, but the real steady guys I’ve got are the ones that are coming up through the system now. I didn’t want to have to play those kids right away. I wanted another guy with experience, and now I can put all of those kids in the minors for a year and I’ve got a guy with a ring. Now hopefully I don’t have to go back into that (free-agent) market for a while looking for guys (on defense).”
Question: Looking at the roster, it would seem that you have six NHL-ready defensemen. Is there a chance one of the kids could still jump out at you?
LOMBARDI: “Sure there’s a chance, but there’s also a question of how the money might even out. It’s a huge price to pay to break a kid in at this level. You get him in, then he maybe has one good year and then, boom, he’s asking for (a big contract). When you build depth, you try to do it the way Detroit did with (Jonathan) Ericsson, and bring them along slowly. Let’s say Hickey comes in and lights it up in training camp. OK, that’s a good problem to have, but in the long run, if you can wait until your guys are completely ready, you hopefully end up like Detroit. It gets tough when you have a situation like we had with Moller. He has a great camp and we take him, but he’s not really a man yet. I hate to do that, so this (Scuderi signing) helps us.”