Hello, this is a feature that will run through the entire season and aims to recap the weekend's events and boils those events down to one admittedly superficial fact or stupid opinion about each team. Feel free to complain about it.
Recently the Los Angeles Kings have been running little quizzes on their website. "Can You Name Every Kings Head Coach?" "How Many Kings 40-goal Scorers Can You Name?" and so forth.
So here's one: Can You Name Anyone the Kings Have Acquired This Offseason?
I've seen a bunch of stuff about the team in recent weeks, all related to Ilya Kovalchuk(notes), and that got me thinking: Have they picked up anyone at all else this summer? The answer, since they made four pick-only trades at the draft on June 25 and 26, is no.
The Kings, as far as I've been able to ascertain from any source (TSN, ESPN, Yahoo, NHL.com, the team's website, even Wikipedia) have neither signed nor traded for a player at any level of the professional hockey ranks that was not previously with the team. They're the only organization in the entire league to have not done so.
"So what?" you may say. The Kings are a good, young team and they're solid at most positions between the NHL and AHL, and even maybe have a couple kids from juniors that are ready to step in and contribute. Maybe you're right.
But they lost Alex Frolov to free agency (well, they will have once he signs somewhere), and while they can complain about his work ethic and willingness to compete every night, they sure will miss his 19-32-51 that was fifth on the team despite his minutes being reduced considerably from the 2008-09 campaign.
The loss of Frolov leaves the Kings, according to their own website's depth chart, with three left wings. One of them is Ryan Smyth(notes), who's perfectly fine but aging, and the others are Brad Richardson(notes) and Scott Parse(notes), neither of whom cracked 30 points last year. And the total number of players listed under "Forwards" on said website's active roster: nine.
Apart from re-upping spare-part players like Rich Clune and Brad Richardson, the Kings have simply sat around and done nothing this offseason. Oh sure, they made their play for Kovalchuk and ultimately were spurned. So why haven't we seen any type of contingency plan?
(Coming Up: James Wisniewski(notes) as a $4 million player; Sedin vs. Sidney; why Atlanta likes Dustin Byfuglien(notes); David Krejci's(notes) recovery; the value of Alfredsson; Rangers trade targets; getting philosophical on Kovalchuk; remembering a Lucic turtle; sports blog does hockey wrong; and a rather stunningly awful Predators trade proposal.)
You can make a very cogent argument that the Pacific and the West in general got better (or at worst: didn't get weaker) than they were last year. Does a team that finished sixth in the conference and third in the division last year really have that great of a shot at making the playoffs this year?
And yet Los Angeles almost literally hasn't done anything apart from re-signing two guys with 11 goals each last season. Have you even heard of them having particularly great interest in anyone?
The experts said that the free agency dam would break when Kovalchuk signed with someone and that's proven to be pretty much true since Monday. However, I don't know if Lombardi got that memo.
Maybe he's waiting for Ilya to come crawling back if the NHL ever does get away with voiding that New Jersey contract. Maybe he thinks the Kings are totally set using like five rookies in regular roles and trying to get into the playoffs again. Maybe he's amassing a Miami Heat-like super team and waiting for just the right moment to pull back the curtain and really relish the laments of his enemies.
Whatever the reason, I have to think Lombardi has a better Plan B for the club than sitting in his bedroom, sobbing and cutting Kovalchuk out of every picture in his Best Friends Forever photo album.
Kings fans would like to see any evidence of that at all.
What We Learned
Anaheim Ducks: The Ducks are headed to arbitration with James Wisniewski. There's speculation that the arbitrator might give Wiz something in the $4 million range. Yes, $4 million for James Wisniewski. I don't know what that's about either.
Atlanta Thrashers: When associate coach John Torchetti was asked what Dustin Byfuglien brings to the team, the second thing on his list after how good Buff was in the playoffs for Chicago was, "He plays good music."
Boston Bruins: David Krejci's dislocated wrist is pretty close to fully recovered and he's on track to return to the ice for training camp. 'Course, he blamed his 2-9-11 line through the first 26 games of last season on being slowed after recovering from a hip injury, so we'll see how that goes.
Calgary Flames: The Flames' equipment manager is calling it quits after more than 10 years on the job due to a serious back injury. Maybe this'll free up the cap space they need to sign Ian White(notes).
Carolina Hurricanes: Jussi Jokinen(notes) was the third-best point producer on a per-minute basis for the Hurricanes last year. I leave it to you if that speaks well for Jokinen or really, really poorly for Carolina.
Detroit Red Wings: The Wings have four drafted players that will participate in a World Junior evaluation camp tournament in Lake Placid starting later this week. One such Swede was drafted in the seventh round, meaning he will be an NHL superstar for years to come.
Florida Panthers: After that Marty Reasoner(notes) trade, the Panthers are pretty much all set down the middle this year. Except for that whole 34-year-old Steve Reinprecht at second-line center thing. That's a bit of a hole.
Los Angeles Kings: How the Kovalchuk saga relates to moralism and philosophy. Really.
Minnesota Wild: The Wild might bring in a third assistant coach, and it's likely that it'll be either Wes Walz(notes) or Darby Hendrickson(notes). I assume this is part of the team's renewed effort to remind Minnesotans of a time when the team wasn't terrible.
Montreal Canadiens: Why hasn't Carey Price(notes) signed yet? He wants a three-year deal, the Habs want a two-year deal. And they're about $1 million apart on an annual salary. And leverage in trades. And the potential to sign more players. Really, it's a whole lot of reasons.
New Jersey Devils: You'll never guess what Lou Lamoriello gave Tom Gulitti when the latter tried to get info on Kovalchuk, the organization's search for an AHL coach and the ongoing Mark Fraser(notes) negotiations. If you guessed "nothing definitive," you are a person with a functioning brain.
New York Rangers: Blueshirt Banter speculates that the Rangers might pursue Brad Richards(notes) and then they wonder about Blake Wheeler(notes). Anyone else you guys want? Alex Ovechkin(notes)? Duncan Keith(notes), perhaps?
Ottawa Senators: Danny Alfredsson, it turns out, is a better even strength scorer over the last three seasons than the following players: Nicklas Backstrom(notes), Jarome Iginla(notes), Dany Heatley(notes), Jason Spezza(notes), Tim Connolly(notes) (what?), Marian Hossa(notes) and Henrik Zetterberg(notes). Hockey stats are crazy.
Phoenix Coyotes: The closest thing to Coyotes news this week: They have a new CFO. The new guy on season ticket renewals: "The interest is there. They are returning our calls. They are calling us." Great start, bud!
Pittsburgh Penguins: Pensburgh reveals that for every goal over the last four season (not including 2009-10), there is about 1.73 assists per goal. Then they make some weird assumption that goals should be worth 1.73 assists and adjusts from there as a way to say Sidney Crosby(notes) is a better MVP candidate than Henrik Sedin(notes). I think we all knew that.
San Jose Sharks: Earlier this week Mike Landolina from Blades of Teal (awesome blog name, by the way), broke down the team's defense for 2010-11 as it stands right now. He only trusts three on a night-in, night-out basis, and I don't blame him.
Tampa Bay Lightning: New Tampa assistant Wayne Fleming has been profoundly affected by the death of Alexei Cherepanov, as you'd expect. Fleming was behind the bench when Cherepanov died.
Toronto Maple Leafs: Leafs HQ says the enforcer has a new importance in the NHL, and that Colton Orr(notes) is the baddest enforcer of them all. And Milan Lucic's(notes) turtle job against him last year pretty much bears that out.
Gold Star Award
Mad Men is back and the premier was excellent. I am a fan of that.
Minus of the Weekend
Deadspin, for this post.
Ah yes, what a mean organization the Capitals have. Noted big-time jerk Nate Ewell should have had far more to say on the subject of a guy (who hasn't played organized hockey since the 2005-06 season) the team drafted seven years ago but who is no longer property of the Capitals than that he is, "a former draft pick who is no longer property of the Capitals."
Perfect HFBoards trade proposal of the week
Don't worry Kings fans, user "gsharpe" will do what Dean Lombardi won't.
Weber + Sullivan
Johnson + Simmonds
To be fair, he did preface this proposal by saying "I'm not sure if this trade would actually work." Nah, buddy. You did great.
You gave us cereal in an ashtray.