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By Kiffin McGinnis
Los Angeles Kings Writer
Las Vegas Writer
Accept it, Kings fans: the Dustin Brown era is over.
Never mind the fact that advanced metrics show a catastrophic decline in production, when was the last time you remember not having to squint at your TV screen to find Brown on the ice? Relegated to low minutes on the ice in 2015-16, Brown’s role as an on ice presence is starting to become something of a myth.
According to General Fanager, Brown has a $5.8M AAV on a contract that runs through 2020. When he signed that particular dotted line, he had just hoisted a Stanley Cup and brought something to Los Angeles few thought possible. But in recent years, his production has declined to a point that his cap hit is no longer sustainable.
There is always a question of trading him, but how difficult would that be? Put in the GM seat of LA, I wouldn’t take less than a second round pick for my former #13. The reasoning here is that many players see a lift in statistical positives upon trade or signing. Marian Gaborik is a great example, amassing 14 goals in the 2014 playoffs for LA after being acquired at the deadline. With a possibility of increased production against the team, the trade isn’t the way to go if the value isn’t there unless the compensation is something of true value (or in the case of the Kings, future value)
Enter Las Vegas, a city primed for its new sports team, hoping to be impactful during their first big introduction: The Expansion Draft. For those who don’t know, the expansion draft is a requirement to fill the roster of the Vegas team with players who are already NHL level; it gives the team some competitive spirit and a fighting chance at the elusive silver chalice. ESPN, NHL Network, NBC sports and any other website with a hockey writer has given a prospectus on who will be open for the Las Vegas based new guys to pick from the existing 30 teams. The question here is really “why not Dustin Brown”.
With the Kings pushed up against the salary cap, a hard-nosed, very physical, possession player like the Dustin Brown of old would be a benefit to a team looking to make a statement in their first season under the neon lights of Las Vegas. If Dustin Brown turned to form, he is (quite literally) a championship asset. He can score, he can skate – read watch him skate during 3-on-3 overtime – and he can hit harder than some of the biggest bruisers in the game – ask the Sedin twins. He has a silver medal from Vancouver, two Stanley cups, and he captained a very old franchise during some glory years. Not to mention Las Vegas has to meet 60-100% of the salary cap through the Expansion Draft. With LA protecting key elements and large contracts like those of Drew Doughty, Anze Kopitar, and Jonathan Quick, it seems almost inevitable that Brown will be open to be stolen.
With George McPhee being named as the GM of Las Vegas this afternoon, this could become a reality. Long time hockey fans remember the days when Washington Capitals meant Peter Bondra, Steve Konowalchuk, and the great Jaromir Jagr. During the 2003-04 season, McPhee dumped these players in a mass retooling of the Capitals roster that turned into a saving grace for the team in the long haul. That off season, getting to have the first pick in the draft, the rebuild started at the pearly gates of hockey; McPhee drafted Alex Ovechkin with the first pick. The Russian phenom has, as of this writing, over 500 goals in just over a decade of domination in the NHL. This, along with some coaching shakeups that worked well, cements in the mind the idea that McPhee knows what he is doing in a draft. He needs a winger like Ovechkin to cement the core of his new team. Dustin Brown has more high level winning experience than the Great 8, he has proven he suits the C, and a high Corsi shot-attempts for would, in theory, fit some small reason McPhee decided to draft Ovechkin over a decade ago.
Las Vegas is going to need some validation, some skill, some star power. Dustin Brown wearing the C for the team would fulfill those requirements. This writer isn’t in the LA locker room, but maybe something isn’t working anymore and a change of scenery will spark a turn around that helps the 30-year old be that #13 pick again. If so, the image of that toothless grin beneath the uplifted Stanley cup could happen, just wearing a different jersey.
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Lucic says he’s prepared for free agency, reported the LA Kings insider Jon Rosen a few weeks ago. Even if the Kings were to even attempt trying to sign Lucic they’d have to trade Dustin Brown and his huge contract for what I’d guess is something along the lines of a prospect and a pick of some sort. And maybe even Dwight King considering he hasn’t done much for the organization lately. He’s getting paid an insane amount of money with about 5.85 million a year. If they can get rid of those 2 guys that would be a huge step for the Kings.
But aside from that Boston seems very interested in signing Lucic again. And I’m sure if they offer a solid contract with the right amount of money, he’d be more than happy to accept it. Boston also has a heck of a lot of salary cap space of $21M, which means they’d be able to sign Lucic and Stamkos if they wanted to. But that is highly unlikely considering forwards Lee Stempniak and Loui Eriksson are going to be UFAs soon.
As of now it is almost certain that Lucic has no chance of coming back next season with the Kings. Lombardi also asked The Rangers for Rick Nash in exchange for Dustin Brown and a few picks but New York definitely didn’t want Brown’s giant contract. And even then the Kings would still have to give up more.
The Kings have also looked at upcoming FA Seth Jones of the Columbus Blue Jackets. Lombardi would most likely offer Brown or Dwight King and maybe even a prospect or a 1st/2nd round pick in the 2017 draft. There’s also some speculation that the Kings could be interested in Okposo to take Lucic’s place in the lineup.
In conclusion, it’s pretty obvious the Bruins have the best chance at taking Lucic when he becomes a free agent.
We’ll have four team needs stories highlighting the draft needs of the teams in every division. Written on June 23rd, any trades that happened after this story was written will not be mentioned in this story, therefore some draft spots may be outdated.
The Edmonton Oilers need defense and goaltending desperately.
Basically the only defense prospects the Oilers have are Darnell Nurse and Griffin Reinhart, and while their future looks bright, there’s no guarantee that they’ll develop into elite shutdown defenders. That’s something Edmonton need. Holding the 4th overall pick opens a wide variety for Edmonton to choose from: Olli Juolevi, Jakob Chycrhun, and Mikhail Sergachev. But at 4th overall, would it be more beneficial to take a forward like Matthew Tkachuk instead of a defenseman? Most scouts agree Tkachuk is better than all the defensemen listed. That would likely prompt the Oilers to trade down, say, to Montreal’s number 9? Montreal is known to want to trade up to acquire Pierre-Luc Dubois. At number 9, Juolevi and Sergachev will likely be gone as Arizona and Buffalo choose at 7 and 8 respectively, but they still have their choice of Jakob Chychrun, Jake Bean, and Charles McAvoy.
Should they stay at 4, they honestly should take Mikhail Sergachev. Nurse and Reinhart are both left handed defenders. That means they need a right handed defender. Both Chychrun and Juolevi are left handed, while Sergachev is right handed.
As for goaltender: Edmonton owns the 32nd pick in the draft. Arguably the best goaltender, Filip Gustavsson will likely be selected in the 50s. So if Edmonton wants they could trade down to the 40s/50s in order to select Gustavsson. Although they still have a wide variety of talent at 32, and could select winger Vitali Abramov, despite their loaded offensive prospect pool.
1st Round Picks: 1
2nd Round Picks: 3
Total Draft Picks: 10
Calgary mainly needs goaltending and maybe an extra punch in offense.
Calgary is basically set on defense for now. They could use an extra prospect or 2, but the ability to draft the likes of Alexander Nylander will likely overshadow that need.
That is if they even keep their 6th overall. Pittsburgh Penguins have told Calgary that Fleury’s price is a 6th overall. That would solve their current goaltending problem. If that price is too high, maybe they’ll figure out a way to package two of their many 2nd round picks plus a prospect.
Should Calgary stay at 6, they’ll likely select Nylander. They could also use on of their 2nd round picks to select Filip Gustavsson or Carter Hart.
1st Round Picks: 2
2nd Round Picks: 2
Total Draft Picks: 8
Arizona’s needs are defense and goaltending.
With a late 2nd round pick, they should definitely consider drafting Filip Gustavsson or Carter Hart. They’re some of the top goaltending prospects in this draft, and have the potential to develop into something great, or at the very least could be cornerstones in a trade.
Arizona currently holds the 7th overall pick. They’re certainly hoping that Olli Juolevi falls to them. Imagine a future defensive pairing of Juolevi and Oliver Ekman-Larsson. Sick. They’re need for a puck-moving defender to compliment Ekman-Larsson justifies Juolevi, but what about their need a for a shut down defenseman? This can come in the way of Mikhail Sergachev. Should Juolevi not be available at number 7, Sergachev is a great 2nd choice. He’s 220 lbs. and loves to be involved. He’s a dominant two-way defender who can shut down opponents, and also contribute on offense.
They also hold the 20th overall pick. They could have their choice of Logan Stanley, Riley Tufte, or Julien Gauthier. Gautheir’s stock has fallen, but is still expected to be a great player. Many believe that he’s ready to jump into the AHL, and once he’s eligible, the Coyotes would likely play him in Tucson. Coyotes would be smart to select any one of those 3.
1st Round Picks: 1
2nd Round Picks: 0
Total Draft Picks: 6
Vancouver has excellent forward prospects in Jake Virtanen, Bo Horvat, and Emerson Etem, and formally Jared McCann (way to go Benning), and a need for more prospects in their defensive pool.
The problem (if you want to call it a problem), Matthew Tkachuk and Pierre-Luc Dubois. Should either one of Tkachuk and Dubois be available at 5, Vancouver may overlook their need in defense for the tremendous talent in those 2 forwards.
While they do need more defensive prospects, it’ll be hard passing up on Tkachuk and Dubois. They should also look into a good goaltending prospect, but all the goaltending prospects this year are in the 2nd round. And Vancouver doesn’t have a 2nd Round Pick (once again, way to go Benning).
1st Round Picks: 2
2nd Round Picks: 0
Total Draft Picks: 6
Anaheim should look to forwards in this year’s draft.
The Ducks have a solid young defensive core and a promising young goaltender. That leaves offense, and Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry are only getting older.
They do have a promising prospect by the name of Nick Ritchie. With the 24th and 3oth picks in this year’s draft, Anaheim could always stock up more on some offensive prospects. Say Brett Howden? Also, these prospects could end up being key pieces in future trades.
Los Angeles Kings:
1st Round Picks: 0
2nd Round Picks: 1
Total Draft Picks: 4
LA has an aging defense. Defense is definitely something they need to look for.
Luckily, this year’s draft is loaded with defensive prospects. Currently, the Kings hold the 51st pick. Maybe a player like Ryan Lindgren will be available. He’s shown great promise and could be a top-six defenseman in 5 years.
Drew Doughty is young at 26-years-old, but he can lead the LA defense on his own. Especially when Matt Greene and Rob Scuderi are both in their 30s. Alec Martinez and Jake Muzzin are both in their primes, but a young defense is something no one can argue with.
Although, with the fact that Milan Lucic is leaving, and Dustin Brown, Marian Gaborik, and Kris Versteeg all in their 3os, it might be a good idea to restructure for the future of offensive in LA. Maybe Adam Mascherin would be a good choice. Noah Gregor is a hard-nosed center who would also fit great in the LA system.
San Jose Sharks:
1st Round Picks: 0
2nd Round Picks: 1
Total Draft Picks: 5
San Jose’s core is aging, and they’re running out of time to win the Stanley Cup. They came close this year, but fell to the Pittsburgh Penguins in the final.
The Draft is not the place to look for the Sharks in my opinion. Their draft picks are too low, and they need to win now. Trades will be San Jose’s saving grace.
If they do find a hidden gem in the draft, they need to hope it’s a forward. San Jose’s offensive core has 2 maybe 3 seasons left before it collapses. Patrick Marleau and Joe Thornton are both 36 and Joel Ward is 35. Joe Pavelski, Logan Couture, and Tommy Wingels can hold the team together, but it won’t be the same without Pavelski and Couture.
The Boston Bruins traded Milan Lucic to the Los Angeles Kings for the 13th overall, Martin Jones, Colin Miller.
Personally I think the Bruins won this deal. They recognized that Lucic really isn’t getting any better. Boston, an aging team, is clearly investing in the future, and I think it’s the right thing to do.
Phil Kessel released the list of teams he’d accept a trade to. That list can always change, but it doesn’t seem like it will.
New York Rangers
Obviously, not all of these teams will trade for Kessel. Teams like Chicago are desperately trying to dump salary to stay competitive.
Philly may be able to afford Kessel. I thought about what the Toronto Maple Leafs’ needs are. It’s usually goal tending. Plus Toronto is entering a rebuild. They want draft picks. The Philadelphia Flyers aren’t exactly full of goalies, young, but they do have draft picks. The questions is, are they willing to give up those draft picks? Personally, I don’t think so. I see any Kessel trade to Philly a long shot, but not impossible. Kessel’s hit is $7million, and cap space is something the Flyers don’t have. Nevertheless, let’s look at this potential trade.