Deadline Deals: A Successful Gamble for the Los Angeles Kings

Dean Lombardi has made great moves at the NHL trade deadline(s) that have enabled continuous success for the Los Angeles Kings.

After the trade with the Philadelphia Flyers that brought Mike Richards to be the number two center-man behind Anze Kopitar, the Los Angeles Kings and management were making a statement that they were a contender for the 2011-2012 NHL season. With a defensive core including Rob Scuderi, Willie Mitchell, Matt Greene, Drew Doughty, and Jack Johnson, the Kings were poised to make a deep playoff run at were considered favorites at the beginning of the season.

The typical scoring drought the Kings would come familiar with started on cue at the mid-season point and scoring was needed. With the brief play and steady development of (then AHL) defenseman, Slava Voynov, on the NHL roster gave Dean Lombardi an opportunity to trade from a point of strength to obtain elite scoring down the stretch.

In February 2012, the Los Angeles Kings traded defenseman Jack Johnson and a first round pick to the Columbus Blue Jackets for forward Jeff Carter.

(Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports)
(Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports)

Jeff Carter was signed long term, had six twenty-plus goal seasons (including two seasons topping thirty goals and one reaching forty-six goals), had familiarity with some of the members in the organization (Mike Richards and John Stevens from the Philadelphia Flyers), and was taken away from a Columbus situation that was not the right fit.

Mike Richards and Jeff Carter were immediately joined, seldom separated, and seemed to have a few players play on their left including Dustin Penner and Dwight King during that year’s cup run. Even though Jeff Carter was injured towards the end of the regular season, he played a pertinent part in taking the Los Angeles Kings to their first Stanley Cup victory scoring eight goals in the twenty-playoff games, four goals in the finals.

On April 1, 2013 the Los Angeles Kings traded two second round draft picks to the Buffalo Sabres for defenseman Robyn Regehr.

Robyn Regehr has been a polarizing player for the Los Angeles Kings fan base. Brought in for defensive help as Rob Scuderi had parted ways in the offseason signing a contract as an unrestricted free agent with the Pittsburgh Penguins, Regehr has done all that has been asked.

Robyn Regehr is a stay at home defenseman that can and has been moved up and down the line up and had been coached by Darryl Sutter in Calgary. That same year, the Los Angeles Kings felt they had filled the void left by Scuderi and signed Regehr to a two-year contract extension with the Kings shortly after the trade.

A trend in the trades that would bring pending UFA’s to the Kings started to surface as players would want to stay here and would be willing to sign an extension knowing that they can hit free agency and potentially land a bigger paycheck.

The Los Angeles Kings would end up losing to the Chicago Blackhawks in the Western Conference Finals that year. The move of bringing in Regehr did not have the same results as maybe the Jeff Carter trade deadline deal did, but Regher is currently a roster fixture (to some fans dismay) and would have his name engraved into the Stanley Cup the following year and Dean Lombardi was able to retain the two second round draft picks in the offseason.

Heatherington tries to emulate his game after Robyn Regehr. (Rob Grabowski-USA TODAY Sports)
Heatherington tries to emulate his game after Robyn Regehr. (Rob Grabowski-USA TODAY Sports)
In 2013-2014, the Los Angeles Kings’ lack of scoring became apparent again in the middle of the season and Lombardi needed to make a trade.

During last year’s NHL trade deadline craze, there were numerous goal scorers on the market that could have potentially helped the Kings out of their scoring woes (at the time, the Kings sat third in the league for goals for). Former King Matt Moulson, Thomas Vanek and Marian Gaborik were all on the block and all would eventually be traded.

The trade that brought Marian Gaborik to the Kings was a high risk/high-reward deal. Gaborik was an elite goal scorer with a great awareness with or without the puck on his stick. The risk(s) was that Marian Gaborik was signed to a big salary (which Columbus retained some of) and was limited to just twenty-two games that season. Injuries, Gaborik’s history of injuries, and playoff efficacy were concerns for the Los Angeles Kings fan base.

Gaborik went on to not only shine in the 2013-2014 Stanley Cup playoffs with a team high fourteen goals, but, went on to sign a seven year contract extension (the trend of signing pending UFA’s apparent) with the team after winning their second Stanley Cup in three years.

Marian Gaborik won a Stanley Cup with the Los Angeles Kings and sweet revenge in the process. (Bruce Fedyck-USA TODAY Sports)
Marian Gaborik won a Stanley Cup with the Los Angeles Kings and sweet revenge in the process. (Bruce Fedyck-USA TODAY Sports)
This year’s trade deadline deal may have the same results.

With the suspension of Slava Voynov and the rotating wheel of injuries to Kings defensemen, Dean Lombardi knew he had to make a trade for defensive help. A lot of defensemen were on the block and traded at this year’s deadline. Brayden Coburn, James Wisnieski, Kimmo Timonen, Keith Yandle, and Zbynek Michalek were all moved and all could have helped the Kings’ defensive troubles.

Instead, Dean Lombardi chose Andrej Sekera having traded a first round pick and defensive prospect Roland McKeown to the Carolina Hurricanes. Sekera is a pending unrestricted free agent, but provides the defensive stability that can shelter other players’ minutes.

Will this deadline (alright, a week before) deal work the same magic for the Los Angeles Kings who currently sit outside of the playoffs? Will the trend continue and Andrej Sekera resigns to remain a Los Angeles King? There is still a lot of time (and cap-crunching) between now and then.