Digging To China – The Anti-Trade Theory

Give a kid a shovel, he’ll dig a hole. Let a kid dig a hole long enough, he’ll ask where the hole will go. A smart ass parent, like I hope to be one day, will answer ‘China’. It’s a sound theory. China is technically below us, we’re below China. Or are they above? If you subscribe to the theory that the earth is round (not all do), then this snarky retort to your child is a nice segway into teaching your kid about the sphere we call home.

So the kid digs and digs and digs. Down, down and down. Eventually, just like in all the cartoons, he comes out on the other side. What was once down is instantaneously up.

How does this relate to the Kings?

Well, if you don’t want to trade for Rick Nash, Jeff Carter, Ales Hemsky or whoever else the rumors fancy, then you essentially believe the Kings are digging their way to China.

Over the last 3 years, going back to when the Kings turned the corner from high drafters to low berthers, the offense has dug itself a hole so deep it seems without end. So what do you do? Do you try and climb out, trade for someone above ground, hope they can pull you up? Or do you bury your head and keep on digging, keep going as you’ve been going and hope you break through to the other side?

There is some sense in this line of thinking. The Kings do have a plethora of proven goal scorers… They just aren’t acting like it this season. We know Brown, Kopitar, Williams and Richards can all score. We know Penner can, as can Gagne when healthy and even Stoll. Richardson has been able to pot a respectable third line amount in the past, Clifford has shown flashes of a nose for the dirty ones around the net. If you don’t know that Doughty is a lot better than he has been this season, then you don’t know Jack, who is the only player not having a career worst offensive season. We have three snipers in the wings in Toffoli, Kozun and Weal. We have Loktionov who will one day regularly score and set others up to do the same. So what the hell, this team isn’t the Nashville Predators of seasons’ past, when David Legwand was the premier forward on the team. The Bruins won a cup without a dominating superstar at forward.

Keep on digging. There’s pockets of air along the way. Penner and Stoll are gone and money can be thrown at Parise, Ruutu, Hemsky, Langkow, Grabovski, Semin, Kostitsyn, Boyes and Samuelsson. Keep on digging and trust the guys you have to do what they have done in the past once again. Keep on digging and trust the youth you have drafted and developed will only get better.

If you are Dean Lombardi, your only choice should be to just keep on digging. A significant trade at this point can only be an abandoning of the journey he started many years ago. I’m not talking about sending a pick away for Ruutu or something. I’m talking about the big trades, Nash or Carter. He always spoke about just needing to add one or two big pieces through trade. Dean’s added a lot more than that already. Richards was his big splash, the trade he had been waiting for, and just because it has coincided with the darkest hour on offense, does not mean it needs to be outdone.

Then again, perhaps the dig does need to be abandoned. He may have dug himself directly against an impregnable piece of rock.

Categories: L.A. Kings News

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40 replies

  1. Three snipers in the wings in Toffoli, Weal, and Kozun? Even Jarret Stoll is a proven goal scorer? Gagne who cant play a full season and is well past his prime. Richards who scored 23 goals last season in the scoring-first Flyers system.

    These are all such reaches.

    Here is the one fact that tells the whole story. It doesnt matter what players did five years ago, or three years ago. This is what matters:

    The LA Kings do not have one player on their roster, not one, who scored over 25 goals last season. Not one.

    That’s it. End of story. Not one. The Canucks had two 40+ guys, a 26 goal guy in Burrows, an annual 100 point guy in Henrik Sedin, and a defense that contributes much more offense than the Kings does.

    Thats the story.

    • Toffoli is a sniper… so are Kozun and Weal, that’s their game. I didn’t say they would be successful snipers.

      Jarret Stoll has proven, in every season other than this one, that he can score 15-20 goals.

      I’m just throwing different theories out there.

      • Jarret Stoll has proven, in every season other than this one, that he can score 15-20 goals.

        … If the Kings had not made the Richards trade, it’s reasonable to assume that Stoll would have produced those numbers.

        Because he was bumped down, scoring expectations had to change.

        • That’s fair. Still, 10-15 should have been perfectly reasonable for 3rd line minutes.

          • … With what he’s had to work with this season??? No way. The Kings’ bottom six is one of the worst groups in the league. He would have been fortunate to get 10 this season.

          • OK…. but that doesn’t account for him spending a good deal of time this season on the 2nd line…

            It all comes back to what the hell is so mystifying about scoring on this team. Kopi has been streaky. Williams flat out sucked for a while. Brown has been as bipolar as bipolar gets. Richards did not recover from concussion well. Penner has been 90% total garbage. Stoll needs to be propped up and those who should be propping him up are struggling. Clifford didn’t move forward. Loktionov has, like so many before him, turned into a defensive forward. The verdict is in and final on Lewis, can’t score. Richardson’s game disappeared.

            And hence my article. A swirling vortex of mishaps and bad timing, just the fatigue and distress that overwhelms when one hits “the wall” on the way to a goal, something that can be overcome…. or something deeper that started with where Lombardi stuck his shovel?

        • “… If the Kings had not made the Richards trade, it’s reasonable to assume that Stoll would have produced those numbers.

          Because he was bumped down, scoring expectations had to change.”

          Huh? The opposite should happen. He should be expected to be at normal levels or higher. Coaches will match lines with the most dangerous lines accordingly. Unless Stoll’s line is the most dangerous line out of the 4 that’s understandable but having a line centered by Kopitar and then Richards, the coach will most likely go to shut those lines downs first.

          So that should free Stoll up. Regardless if a forward line is mainly used to shut other lines down, they are still going to try and score given the opportunity. By the other team looking to shut down Kopi and Richards’ lines first the pressure is somewhat off Stoll to then come out and produce.

          • He means that in the top 6 Stoll had wingers that didn’t suck as bad as our third line wingers do.

          • That’s true but there should be, theoritically, less competition on his line because now the focus is more on the top 2 lines to shut down. He then should have a little more open ice to work with even though his wingers may not be as talented as in the top 2.

    • It doesn’t look like they will any player score 25 this year. (I would have said 20 but somebody has to score…don’t they?)

    • My kind sir, Dustin Brown had 28 goals last season, last regular season, to lead the Kings. Kopi had 25 in 75 games and was on pace to better the 25 goal mark.

      Your main point obviously holds; scoring is a problem and Vancouver is better at it, and Vancouver is a worthy model to strive towards. It’s just the whole bold thing required a correction.

  2. Sorry guys thats inaccurate. I was giving that stat from memory but the number is 30, not 25. I thought Brown had 28 after I posted that so I checked and realized its 30.

    The point stays the same. I will look a bit more of an idiot than I otherwise would have, but the point doesnt change. It doesnt matter what names the Kings have, or what their players did three years ago. If they really had a lineup full of capable goal scorers, they would have at least one guy who scored 30+ last year, if not a couple. But they dont, because they dont.

    • The Kings weren’t built to have one or two players scoring a bundle of goals. The idea was to score by committee, have 5 or 6 guys get 20-25, maybe more. That’s how the Bruins did it last year. One 30 goal scorer, one guy with 26, then a bunch of guys score 15-20. A 40 goal scorer isn’t necessary for success.

      If the Kings top 6 players all scored as they SHOULD, ~18-25 goals, we would be in dandy shape. So your point is well taken, but not wholly pertinent.

      • You dont have to have one guy, but if youre going to do it the other way, the way the Bruins did it, you need four lines. The Bruins didnt have 5-6 guys capable of producing 20 goals like the Kings, they had 8-9.

        Krejci, Lucic, Horton, Ryder, Bergeron, Recchi, Seguin, Marchand, Peverley = 9. Thats not even counting Chris Kelly, or their fourth liners like Paille and Campbell who are very good in their roles.

        Thats the big difference. You dont need to have the explosive top-six group, it can just be good, but then you better have an explosive 3rd line up there with the very best in the league.

        The Kings have a terrible 3rd line.

        There are plenty of ways to win, Im just saying, the roster, as it is now, does not have the talent to score goals, it does not have the top snipers or the depth. Basically, just because some guys did it at an elite level 3 years ago doesnt mean theyre still capable of that. The kings dont have the elite guys to be Vancouver, or the depth to be Boston.

        So either way, they need to add. Either they need to add three 20 goal guys to their 3rd line, or one or two 40 goal guys to their top-six. But adding nothing is not the answer.

        • Well we don’t need to argue that the Kings aren’t the Bruins or Canucks, that they aren’t in ANY upper eschelon, its now about how the team has been put together and whether that philosophy should be continued going forward or abandoned and readjusted. Write this year off as unexpected growing pains mixed with bad luck/karma/planning whatever and go get Ruutu and Kostisyn and Langkow or something to replace Stoll/Penner, or replace one of those guys with a young dude or a vet you don’t expect a ton from (and therefore doesn’t make a lot of money) and use all the cap space on the superstar.

          The idea of adding nothing is not “add nothing ever ever”, it’s “not sell of assets to salvage this year”. Go after some mid level free agents in the off season and make some trades in a state of calm the offseason brings, not the panic and higher prices the deadline brings.

          I don’t really know which is the right way to go. I know getting the 40 goal guy is the more exciting thing to do, but at the cost I don’t know if that benefits the team the most in the long term.

          I’m too blinded by rage and misanthropy to make a real judgement lately.

      • Yes, but the chemistry is Clearly rather rank. You know the game well Surly. IF the chemistry Were not a problem, then why would Richards who has played w Carter, Hartnell, JVR (I assume) and god knows who else, be playing with two AHL players with a combined 15 games NHL experience.

        Answer: Because there is a lack of chemistry And a lack of depth.

      • No offense….. but I haven’t liked the word ‘should’ for a long time now. And in DL’s defense defense defense who can amortize in the players totals who used to play on other teams.

        No one seems to score for the k i n gs
        the way they do elsewhere. I won’t bring up Simmonds for you as a favor to us all. Ponikarovsky is barely under a point a game in 14 games for the Devils. You think they may have a better feed on how to use and develop players. I was listening to their radio broadcast last week and the guy said Poni has been playing great. I’ll bet no one in Philly is complaining much about Simmer either and Purcell who is ‘down’ this year will still get 20.
        How many in LA? So I rather throw the ‘shoulds’ right out the window.

  3. Get out of the hole, its gonna collapse! Carter > Nash.

  4. I think the whole theory is based on whether you believe it is just a player issue, or deeper than just the talent accumulated. I think not making any significant changes in a system that has never proven to be offensively stable is another hole entirely.

    DL has forced this hole, because he refused to even dig in the other one. Now we are all left digging in the wrong hole (metaphorically) with 2 shovels.

  5. You can cross Ruutu off the list, and forget about Nash and Carter, even Parise.

    PHX just added a pretty good defensive forward, who can also score in Vermette.

    So long as Dean Lombardi is the GM, Kozun will be referred to as too small. Leading the WHL and CHL in scoring doesn’t equate NHL success. Currently he is a -8 and 2nd on the Monarchs in scoring.

    “Oi” Vey is in his 1st season as a pro with Manchester, and is right behind Kozun, but is playing at a +2, and if he continues to grow, maybe next season he gets a few cups of coffee, that is if he is not wasted on some horrible trade.

    Toffoli, unless this kid learn how to play 2 ways over the summer, will not be playing many games in Los Angeles next season. Lombardi likes the new guys to cut their teeth in the AHL before making that next step.

    I say Grabovski should be a target, since he won’t break the bank. He should be making about 4 mill which is the going rate for a top 6 forward. Burke has commented on the growth in Grabovski with his defensive play, something which was missing previously.

    Kostitsyn is another player the Kings should go hard after. He is a top 6 LW, which is what the Kings need. Kostitsyn has been putting up consistent 20+ goal seasons, with one 15 goal due to missing about 22 games 2 seasons ago.

    A big plus with Kostitsyn is having the Russian Mob threatening the Kings to win, otherwise they sleep with the Beluga in the Black Sea.

  6. Burn. I’ve always liked Tuomo.

  7. @Surly

    Surly guy…. here’s your sentence: ‘The Bruins won a cup without a dominating superstar at forward.’

    You couda fooled me. Maybe a wolf in sheep’s clothing… or a sheep in wolf’s clothing? But Milan Lucic and Brad Marchand both looked pretty damned good. They were monsters. The Kings equivalent (physical play) haven’t shown anywhere near the same sort of scoring touch as either of those guys.

    Then talk about Nathan Horton. Only TWO GAME WINNINGS GAME 7 Series Winning OT goals. That’s CLUTCH!!!! Who has shown this year to have even the slightest inclination of clutch on the Kings? Who? And this season as soon as reg ends tied, you almost have an idea of what’s gonna happen in OT or the shootout. Not in agreement with your comparison Surly.

    Love your posts, but can’t agree on this one. Everyone was doing the comparison last year – Kings>Bruins. Take a look at how evenly spread the goal scoring is on the B’s this year. Then look at the Kings table. It does not make for pretty viewing.

    • You disagree with a point I wasn’t making. My point isn’t that the Kings are equivalent in talent to the Bruins. My point is that the Bruins don’t have a superstar forward. Lucic a superstar? Hell no. He’s a damn good player. A star, like Chris Stewart is a star, or James Neal is a star. But he’s not a superstar. He’s not a Nash like everyone wants. My point was that the Bruins did it by committee, like the Kings are built to, not that I am making a qualitative comparison between the two teams.

      • Ahhh. Got ya!! Point taken then.

        I suppose my point relates to your sentence here about scoring by committee (2m’s 2t’s and 2 e’s – I Love this trade stuff don’t you)?

        The Kings aren’t even having an indication of scoring…. by anyone. The B’s are. But you did say ‘like the Kings are Built to do’. Just wish they were built better is all.

  8. Technically, your kid would end up on an island 3000 milse north of Antartica, tecnically. And, since you’re such an ass of a father I bet you didn’t even pack him a lunch or a jacket, did you?

  9. I think the organization needs to figure out what the mission is like your saying.

    Is it, stick with the plan and let the younger guys continue to develop or
    is it, make a hail mary trade and try to get the elusive big name winger in the hopes that that will give us just enough offense to make the difference.

    I think they should stick to the original plan. Ive said it a million times but I don’t think this team will be serious contenders until Doughty and Johnson are more mature and are playing like world class players. Then trading for an elite guy will make sense. If you can get one via UFA, then absolutely but I’m not gonna hold my breath.

    Right now as much as I’d like to get Nash, I don’t think that makes much of a difference. You can see it just by watching last night’s game. Way to many immature mistakes, not enough wise reads and clutch play.

    Not to mention, the system sucks, nobody on the team can score. Going into the season it looked like we would be scoring by committee, there were a bunch of guys who could on paper put up at least 20-25 goals which should have been enough. So that needs to be fixed first and I think it takes a reset, new camp and maybe even a new coach.

    In the meantime you continue to improve the roster without giving up the farm to do it. Build the 3rd and 4th line, resign Mitchell, ditch Penner, etc.
    We should be all over getting Ott from Dallas, exactly the kind of guy we need.

    But its obvious to see where this is going. AEG is impatient, the fans are impatient, DL is desperate and so we will probably give up a lot to get one guy who isnt going fix the immaturity, the fucked system and the weak 3rd and 4th line. We will have emptied the cupboard for nothing. Quick could literally walk and without Bernier (having been traded), we will be screwed.

    its ultimately all on Dean’s watch so he’ll take the fall. I’m as pissed as anyone about the 6 years but I’d rather they have just a little more patience. Judging by last night’s game, trading the farm isnt going to do much.

    • Such an astute point you make about the immature mistakes, poor reads, etc. Spot on. I watched the highlights and boy, Kopi completely and utterly missed his assignment.

      Very immature play by Clifford. Everyone (almost) on LAKI is just pounding their computer keys complaining about the poor reffing. Hardly anyone says that he had already taken an unnecessary tripping penalty and they literally coming out of the box makes a poorly chosen high hit. Who cares if it was borderline legal or borderline illegal.

      Keep that sort of play up and you can actually bring in Malkin AND Nash for free….. no trade…. and they’re gonna struggle to win. Yes I exaggerate, but that was your point and it’s well taken.

  10. I agree that he needs to keep on digging but digging the other way because he’s burying himself alive. To come out and spend nearly to the cap and have your team dead last in goals scored nearly all season long while scraping the bottom of the playoff barrell, I’d say he went digging a little too far for that gold and found out it was nothing but nothing but bedrock.

    Let’s say the Kings do make the playoffs this year and everyone stays healthy and they exit the first round again. Imo he’s already failed. So he needs to start digging his ass off before that he can’t get to the surface. And the surface for him ain’t looking too hot at this point.

  11. Fuck 3-0 hole why Quick tonite

  12. Getting one player is not going to fix this mess. Is it any wonder when a former king (simmonds, purcell, ponikorifski, boyle) goes to another team he has more goals. THE SYSTEM IS BROKE !!! The Kings do not have enough fast players to back off the other teams opposing d men therefore they have to dump the puck in. They hardly ever use drop passes. When we do cycle the puck we look like we are trying to run the clock not score. We don’t get into the crease to get shots. When we do shoot we aim right for the goalie’s chest or miss the net (not that there is going to be anyone their IF there was a rebound) The thing that currently worries me is that we give up lots of players for what we think is the answer. The best thing (and I HATE to say this) is that we don’t make any trades, miss the playoffs and have a new gm, coach etc next year. Ps If I were Tim Leweki I would call Dave Tippett and see if he is interested. I know it’s against the rules but I don’t care He gets more with less every year.

  13. If you dig down far enough don’t you hit a burning fiery Hell? Seems about right.


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