COMMENTARY | There is a common saying amongst Los Angeles Kings fans about generally steadfast general manager Dean Lombardi: "In Dean We Trust."
Well, Lombardi will need Kings fans' trust more than ever after his most recent trade, as the Kings traded a conditional 2015 draft pick to the Chicago Blackhawks for forward -- and one of the more disliked guys in the league -- Daniel "Car Bomb" Carcillo. An ugly nickname to go along with a guy who causes some ugly hits.
Note: Carcillo also has a second nickname: "Gorilla Salad." I don't know how this nickname was created and I don't want to know -- but it is of national importance for me to share this with you. I will be referring to Carcillo as Gorilla Salad henceforth. Now, back to hockey.
Gorilla Salad, 28 years old and carrying an $825,00 cap hit, has been injury plagued in his last couple seasons as he scored just two goals and one assist in 23 games last season while winning the Stanley Cup with the Blackhawks. In his time with the Philadelphia Flyers, Phoenix Coyotes and Blackhawks, he has 40 goals and 47 assists in 333 games. Obviously not the gaudy numbers Kings fans would hope for, but he plays an incredibly physical and rough style of play, as shown by his 1,079 career penalty minutes, which could still prove useful on the Kings' fourth line.
The problem with this trade is that the Kings already have a younger and better forward who plays Gorilla Salad's rough-and-tumble style of hockey, Kyle Clifford. Clifford, who is a restricted free agent along with forwards Jordan Nolan and Trevor Lewis and is 22 years old, carried an $870,000 cap hit last season and scored seven goals and seven assists along with 51 penalty minutes in 48 games. With the addition of Gorilla Salad, the Kings have only one more spot open on the 23-man roster and are $2,278,106 under the $64,300,000 salary cap.
Although the Kings did simplify their roster quandary when they let unrestricted free agent forward Dustin Penner sign a one-year, $2 million deal with the Anaheim Ducks, there are still question marks abound.
So what does this mean for guys like Clifford, Nolan and Lewis?
More than likely Lewis will be re-signed, as the 26-year-old was an incredibly useful player on the bottom-six with five goals and nine assists in 48 games. Nolan was serviceable at times, but he is, unfortunately, expendable and Kings fans have most likely seen the last of him. But Clifford could certainly be a trade candidate given his skill-set, age and ceiling.
Although the Kings would certainly still have money left over after signing Lewis, they would not have the roster spot for Clifford, and they've basically already replaced him with Gorilla Salad. As I noted in my previous post, the Kings currently have nine defensemen signed to create healthy offseason competition for the six defensive positions, so Clifford could inevitably become part of a trade with a defenseman. Anybody want Keaton Ellerby?
In the long run, the addition of Gorilla Salad to the Kings is an insignificant move. He's a proven gamer (although a dirty one, at times), he came cheap, and it's just a one-year deal. Most fans would probably rather have Clifford in the agitator role, but cap limitations are testing Lombardi's ability to go after what he needs rather than what he wants, so it is completely within the realm of possibility that I will be writing a "Kyle Clifford Has Been Traded For Prospects And Cash" article in the coming days.
But don't get too down on yourselves if Kyle Clifford gets traded, Kings fans, because the light at the end of the tunnel is that we all get to yell "Gorilla Salad" next season without anyone thinking we're crazy.
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