Fellow blogger Matt Barry wrote an article today on the merits of a Jack Johnson for Dustin Penner trade. He also posted on his twitter account, “Dustin Penner being shopped – Kings very interested.”
Here is the premise Barry advances:
I was told the Kings “will make a deal” either during camp or before the start of the season. They are still looking for a top line left winger.
With a defensive spot ripe for the taking, Davis Drewiskie, Thomas Hickey and Viatcheslav Voynov could make Jack Johnson expendable.
I know, I know, here we go again with the Jack Johnson talk. Why would you trade one of your core? Simple. Cost.
The Kings are going into this next season having to sign BOTH Johnson and Drew Doughty. Not an easy task. If Drew Doughty signs for 6-7-8 million a year, what does that make Jack Johnson worth? If I’m Jack Johnson and his agent, I’m worth 4-5 million. If I’m a fan and Kings management, I’m thinking, “Why pay Johnson when I have Hickey, Voynov, Muzzin, Campbell and Teubert” in the wings.
The Edmonton Oilers, who have been trading partners with the Kings in the past, could be partners again. Dustin Penner is a player that fits the Kings and Lombardi mold. Big winger, finally had a breakout year (can he do it on a consistent basis?). Johnson would easily and affordably fill Sheldon Souray’s shoes (once he is waived or dealt). Kings fans will cringe at a Johnson for Penner swap but as fans, we always overvalue our players.
If Scott Hartnell was willing to waive HIS no trade clause to go to Edmonton in a swap for Souray as been recently reported, how much stronger would the Flyers defense be with the addition of Johnson? 1-6, their defense would be the best in the league top to bottom. How much better would the Kings top line be with the gritty Hartnell skating with Kopitar?
All of these questions will be answered in the coming weeks as training camps open. Can Hickey and Voynov remain healthy?
Here is why I disagree:
There is a very small market for top 4 defensemen. We grabbed the best one left in Willie Mitchell. That means before any general manager decides to trade one of his, he better know there is someone within the organization ready to step in those shoes. Do the Kings have such a defenseman in the system? In a word, not yet. Thomas Hickey has proven nothing to date. He has remained injured nearly throughout his AHL career and flashes of good things when he has been healthy does not replace a top 4 defender on the roster this season. Voynov has not played a single game in the NHL. While he shows promise, that won’t help the Kings this season or next. For Teubert to even be in this discussion is unfair to him. At 20 years old, all indications are that he may be a late bloomer if he blossoms at all. Add to that what I still consider to be an important handicap for him to overcome (skating) and Colten doesn’t figure to play a role anytime soon in the Kings’ defense. Campbell? Come on. Muzzin? I am probably highest on this kid but a practical analysis tells us it is too soon to decide especially given his injury history. So, what do the Kings really have in the pipeline? Potential and then only with arguably two of the players in Voynov and Muzzin and possibly Hickey if he can remain healthy. So, who replaces Jack Johnson? Nobody.
That brings us to injuries. They are part of the game. The Kings have a potentially high octane and balanced defense going into the season with two offensive top 4s (Doughty and Johnson) and two defensive stalwarts (Scuderi and Mitchell), as well as a solid number 5 in Greene. All of that changes with an injury to any of the top 4. Now, imagine an injury to our top 3 and Johnson gone? You get the point.
We then come to Jack’s ceiling. He is 23 years old. He too has had injury issues and there are still questions about his ability to play a defensive game, but we have yet to see Johnson’s potential. He has shown on the big stage of the Olympics and the playoffs that he is a prime time performer. I was as impressed with Jack as I was with Doughty in the Vancouver games. Further, we saw Jack take his game to another level come playoff time. He and Drew both had 7 points in 6 playoff games and Jack showed us that when it counts the most, he can be counted on to perform on both ends of the ice.
If you are tempted to bash Barry, don’t. He is a loyal Kings fan, a long time season ticket holder and invests time, money and energy into this passion. Is he a little nuts? Yes. So am I and if Dean could pry away Dustin Penner for, hypothetically, one of our defensive prospects and a pick or a similar package, then that would be a trade I would support each and every time. We are, after all, talking about a 6’4″, 245 pounds left winger with speed, toughness, a scoring touch and who has no fear of going to the net.
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