The job of a general manager in the NHL is no easy task. Putting together a roster that can compete night in and night out while staying under the salary cap is a never-ending puzzle. If a general manager can’t put together a contender through only the NHL draft, which is the case the majority of the time, they turn to the trade market. This is where Los Angeles Kings general manager Dean Lombardi has excelled.
Since Lombardi took the reigns in Los Angeles, the Kings have grabbed a 338-276-90 record, won two Stanley Cups and established themselves as an NHL powerhouse. This was not all accomplished thanks to top of the line drafting and prospect development. According to NHL Trade Tracker, Lombardi and the Kings have been involved in 67 trades since Lombardi took over and these trades have been a major factor in the Kings’ growth.
Lombardi’s first trade, he grabbed Patrick O’Sullivan and a 2006 first round pick for Pavol Demitra who was sent to the Minnesota Wild. That first round pick would turn out to be Trevor Lewis at number 17 overall in the 2006 NHL draft. Lombardi’s first transaction really set the tone for his time with the Kings up to this point.
When looking through the 6o+ transactions between the Kings and the rest of the league it is tough to find a trade where the Kings came out on the losing end. That is what separates the boys from the men. Anyone can make a trade, it’s the trades that pay off in the long run that are remembered.
That being said, let’s take a look at Lombardi’s top five trades during his time with the Kings.
1. Jeff Carter from the Columbus Blue Jackets
This was the trade. This was the trade that most see as the move that got the Kings their first Stanley Cup. Carter was brought into Los Angeles to help a team that was starving for offense. When Carter was brought into the locker room the Kings were in eighth place in the West and fighting to make the playoffs.
Carter joined the Kings and sparked an anemic offense and a historic run through the post season to the Kings’ first Stanley Cup in franchise history.
At the time Carter had scored 30 goals three times in his career. Since coming to the Kings that offensive prowess has remained apparent. In 218 regular season games with the Kings, Carter has found the back of the net 87 times on his way to 154 points.
Carter’s offensive success has continued into the post season as well where he has recorded 24 goals and 51 points in 64 playoff games with the Kings.
2. Justin Williams from the Carolina Hurricanes
Unlike the previous trade, and the one following, the Kings acquiring Williams took a while to flourish. Carolina got O’ Sullivan, a tie into the very first trade Lombardi ever worked, in return for Williams.
When Williams came to Los Angeles it was a bit of a gamble. Williams had already missed an extended amount of time because of a broken hand and torn Achilles’ tendon. After coming to the Kings Williams only skated in 12 games that season where he grabbed one goal and four points. The injury problems lingered around for some time with the Kings, but over the last four seasons Williams has played in all but one game.
Lombardi took a chance on Williams. The Kings general manager saw that Williams was a winner, he was a recent All-Star, and he had won a Cup with the Hurricanes. That winning mentality came out in full force with the Kings. Williams was a part of both Kings championships, won the Conn Smythe in 2014, was given the nickname “Mr. Game 7” because of his knack for game seven heroics and will likely be cashing in this summer with a new contract because of it all.
3. Marian Gaborik from the Columbus Blue Jackets
This can be seen as Jeff Carter 2.0. The Kings made a huge trade with the Blue Jackets at the dead line and the player brought in played a major role in the Kings winning the Cup later that season. Gaborik came over from Columbus and the Kings sent over Matt Frattin and some draft picks.
Gaborik went on to record 14 goals and 22 points during the Kings’ run to their second Cup in three years. There probably wasn’t a bigger pair of goals for the Kings during the 2014 NHL playoffs than Gaborik’s goal with seven seconds left in the third period and then game winner in overtime of game one of the Kings’ second round series against the Anaheim Ducks.
I doubt Frattin scores either one of those goals.
4. Mike Richards from the Philadelphia Flyers
This can be looked at in two ways, Lombardi was able to work his magic and lure away the Flyers’ then captain or Lombardi found the Flyers when they were in a giving mood since they had unloaded Carter to the Blue Jackets earlier that day, I’d like to think it was the prior.
In return the Flyers got Wayne Simmonds and then prized prospect Brayden Schenn. Looking at the development of all the players involved, Simmonds and Schenn have grown into integral parts of the Flyers’ roster while Richards played a vital part in both of the Kings’ championships, both sides seem to have come out in the positive.
Of course Richards’ time with the Kings has been dragged through the mud a bit due to his recent lack in productivity. But that is not what the trade for Richards will be remembered for, the trade will be remembered because of the two Cups Richards raised over his head while wearing a Kings sweater.
5. Jack Johnson From the Carolina Hurricanes
The trade that brought Johnson to Los Angeles is big for several reasons. Johnson was a top prospect at the time and at the same time the Kings were among the worst in the league. This was one of the moves that suggested the Kings were moving in the right direction. Johnson was brought up with the Kings and played his first 343 NHL games with Los Angeles. The 2005 third overall pick was a center piece in the Kings defense for quite some time and a big building block in the team’s rebuild.
But Johnson was the puzzle piece that brought a much bigger puzzle piece to town. Johnson got the Kings Carter, which some argue got the Kings their first Cup. That there makes event that led to getting Carter pretty big.
Honorable Mention: Jonathan Bernier to the Toronto Maple Leafs
Much like the Johnson trade above, this trade has to be mentioned because of what it set in motion. This was the first domino in what brought Gaborik to Los Angeles.
The Kings moved Bernier to Toronto in return for Ben Scrivens and Frattin. The Kings later moved Scrivens for a third rounder and Frattin for Gaborik. So if you track it all the way back you may want to tell Bernier, “Thank you,” the next time you see him.
Eric received his BA in Journalism from California State University, Northridge. Eric has contributed to RinkRoyalty.com, Buffalowdown.com and California Rubber Magazine.