Kings GM Dean Lombardi reveals details on his pursuit of Marian Gaborik

Kings general manager Dean Lombardi had two concerns going into Wednesday’s NHL trade deadline. First, he knew he wanted to find a player to bolster the goal-starved team. Second, he had to do it within the constraints of the salary cap.

Lombardi targeted veteran Marian Gaborik quite some time ago, but with a hefty salary of $7.5 million for 2013-14, it figured to take a little extra work to make the deal with the Columbus Blue Jackets work to the Kings’ advantage.

In the end, the solution was to ask the Blue Jackets to agree to pay 50 percent of Gaborik’s salary, pro-rated for the final one-quarter of the season. The Kings also sent forward Matt Frattin, a second-round pick either this year or next and a conditional third-round pick to Columbus.

The Kings also had to re-assign forward Linden Vey to Manchester (N.H.) of the American Hockey League to clear salary-cap space before acquiring Gaborik. Vey recorded five points, all assists, in 18 games with the Kings. He spent most of the season in the minors.

In return, the Kings acquired a crafty 32-year-old with 688 points, including 342 goals, in 791 games with the Blue Jackets, New York Rangers and Minnesota Wild. He is a former 42-goal scorer with the Rangers in 2009-10 and the Wild in 2007-08.

The Kings also gained a player who has been sidelined for all but 22 games this season because of a collarbone injury. He is expected to join the team for tonight’s game against the Jets in Winnipeg, the start of the a three-game trip.

“I inquired right after New Year’s,” Lombardi said during a conference call with reporters when asked about starting talks with the Blue Jackets for Gaborik. “That’s kind of when we started the process. It picked up about two weeks ago. It goes to 11 (Tuesday) night, then picks up again at 5.”

Lombardi said he believed Gaborik is the right man to aid the Kings’ offense.

“He brings an element we thought we’d like to add to the mix,” Lombardi said when asked why he targeted Gaborik. “There are very few players capable of doing what he does. We thought he was the only guy available who had those dimensions.”

 

 

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Kings GM Dean Lombardi says Jonathan Quick could be out until Christmas

When goaltender Jonathan Quick suffered a groin strain during the Kings’ shootout loss Nov. 12 to the Buffalo Sabres, the original estimate was that he would be sidelined for between four and six weeks. Kings general manager Dean Lombardi more or less confirmed that diagnosis when he told a Canadian radio program Wednesday that Quick would be out for at least another month and might not be back before Christmas at the soonest.

“It’s going to be a while,” Lombardi said. “At least another month. We’re probably looking, if things go according to plan, at Christmas.”

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General manager Dean Lombardi wants to keep the Kings together next season

End of the season interviews can be tough under the best of circumstances, but since Dean Lombardi doesn’t do sound bites and since he was awake until 5:30 a.m. after the Kings were eliminated Saturday from the conference finals, he was a little more long-winded than usual when he spoke via conference call Sunday.

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Kings GM Dean Lombardi talks about establishing a winning culture

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:

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GM Dean Lombardi talks about keeping the roster intact for another playoff run

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:

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Robyn Regehr focused on the present rather than his future with the Kings

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.

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Shea Weber is worth $7.5M. What’s Drew Doughty worth?

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.

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Mike Richards still doesn’t know why he was traded. Doughty, Fraser updates.

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:
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The overtime conundrum.

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.”

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Kings, Williams agree to four-year extension. Update.

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.”
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