Kukla's Korner Hockey
by Paul on 02/17/12 at 01:43 PM ET
from Pierre LeBrun and Scott Burnside of ESPN,
LeBrun: And of course the biggest name of all, when it comes to defensemen on the trade market, is Jack Johnson in Los Angeles. I had a few team executives this week tell me he’s in play but only for the type of deal that hands the Kings the top-line forward they’ve been craving. Shut out 1-0 at home by Phoenix Thursday night, I have to imagine Kings GM Dean Lombardi will be even more determined in his efforts to land Rick Nash. Jeff Carter and Ales Hemsky are other possibilities. The Kings can’t score and must make the playoffs. Lots of pressure there.
Burnside: As you know, I wasn’t a fan of the Darryl Sutter hire when Lombardi dismissed Terry Murray and the team has continued to struggle offensively after a spasm of productivity and not surprisingly slowly slid down the standings. That’s what happens when you’re dead last in goals scored per game and 22nd on the power play. There is more than a little impatience in Los Angeles with the Kings’ plans for building a contender. The fans have been surprisingly understanding, but if the Kings miss the playoffs, that would be a monster blow for the franchise and I have to assume one that would signal dramatic change from the top on down. Right now, the Kings are in eighth place thanks to their loss at home versus the resilient Phoenix Coyotes, and Calgary is just two points back after picking up a point in an overtime loss to Dallas. Dallas, by the way, is just four points back of the Kings with a game in hand.
I must admit I still don’t get the willingness to part with Johnson for some of the reasons outlined above. No matter how much you need offense, it’s nigh on impossible to replace a young, puck-moving defenseman the likes of Johnson. I guess it’s a case of high risk, high reward for Lombardi. Either way, the Kings will be a team to keep an eye on in the coming days.
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