"And with the 9th pick in the 2005 NHL Entry Draft, the Ottawa Senators are proud to select from the University of North Dakota, Brian Lee."
Over the weekend I received an email from our Bloguin brethren The Royal Half that asked whether or not I would be interested in a mutual Q&A. Below are the questions that I posed to get some perspective on the Los Angeles Kings, to get my takes on the Senators, you'll have to visit The Royal Half. So let's get at it...
1) When are you going to get around to writing John Muckler that thank you letter?
You mentioned that John Muckler traded Tim Gleason to the Kings which led to Jack Johnson's arrival in Los Angeles as well as passed on Anze Kopitar for Brian Lee in the 2005 NHL Entry Draft. But the real thank you letter goes to former Senators GM Marshall Johnston who accepted 2 5th round picks in 2000 from GM Dave Taylor in exchange for a 4th round pick that became fan favorite, Lubomir Visnovsky. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n80xlftk_q8)
2) Will we ever see those silver and black jerseys that were used during the Gretzky/McNall era again?
Well, the current Kings 3rd jersey is pretty close to those awesome jerseys used in the 1990's that us Kings fans commonly refer to as the "Chevy Logo" jerseys. A few of the local youth minor teams here also use a white version of that 3rd jersey. I really do feel like in the next few years the Kings will switch to the 3rd jersey full time... they are just being patient as opposed to teams like Buffalo that seem to switch every year. If it was up to me... the Kings would switch full time to their 3rd jersey from 1995, the infamous Burger King Jersey. (http://www.theroyalhalf.com/2010-articles/march/a-whopper-of-a-jersey.html)
3) Is there ever any resentment towards Dean Lombardi for not going after name talent via trade or free agency? (ie. Choosing Ryan Smyth over Dany Heatley. Or opting to bring in an Ilya Kovalchuk and instead signing guys like Rob Scuderi or Willie Mitchell.) At what point would you like to see the organization “go for all of the marbles”?
The fact of the matter is that Dean Lombardi has gone after name talent. He was in the running for Patrick Elias, Chris Drury, Zdeno Chara and Kovalchuk over the past few years. But for some reason or another, those players just simply didn't want to play in Los Angeles for the terms Lombardi needed. Rob Scuderi is a big reason for the success of Drew Doughty and there's no coincidence that the Kings went on a losing streak when Willie Mitchell went out with a broken wrist. And in terms of Ryan Smyth over Heatley... you tell me... as the Senators fan... would you still want Heatley on your team after the shit he pulled?
Dean Lombardi has been able to do with this franchise something that no other GM has... create a culture of team identity. With Gretzky, it was about how many former Oilers we could sign. With Dave Taylor, it was about what is the bare minimum that will compete for the 8th seed. But Lombardi has re-booted this franchise, which has included a couple awful seasons as he stock pilled draft picks. And now, this is a young team, with a couple potential superstars in Anze Kopitar, Drew Doughty and Jon Quick... plus plenty of cap space. I think you'd have to look hard to find a Kings fan that has any resentment towards a Dean Lombardi decision. You can ask any New Jersey Devils fan how that is working out for them this year.
4) Over the past few years, LA has received a lot of praise for their ability to draft and horde young talent. How would you evaluate the organization’s ability to develop these players and integrate them into the lineup? In particular, I’m interested in a guy like Moller. Why has he had such a hard time sticking at the NHL level?
On a nightly basis, Drew Doughty, Wayne Simmonds, Davis Drewiske, Jon Quick and Jon Bernier are in the lineup for the Kings. Recently Trevor Lewis, Kyle Clifford and Jake Muzzin are all getting regular shifts. These are all young draft picks (Drewiske was a free agent out of college) within the last 4 years. Thomas Hickey was a big shot in the dark by Lombardi that hasn't paid off yet, but all the potential is there. Brayden Schenn and Andrei Loktionov are in the waiting at Manchester right now. So I'd say the Kings have done a halfway decent job of developing young talent. Now that being said, the Kings have also recently given up on players like Matt Moulson, Brian Boyle and Teddy Purcell who are talented young players, but just didn't fit into Coach Terry Murray's system. Oscar Moller has had a hard time sticking at the NHL level because he's just a little guy... the kid has great offensive talent but gets tossed around left and right trying to be an NHL center. Unless he bulks up to a level where he can't get knocked so easily off the puck, he may be a career AHL'er.
5) Looking at Cap Geek, LA has a lot of cap space coming off of the books for next season. Albeit, they do have to sign Drew Doughty to an extension. What kind of figures do you think it will take for the team to retain Doughty? And do you get into the fetal position when you hear the words “offer sheet”?
Probably the most comparable contract would be Duncan Keith's 5.5 million a year. The words "offer sheet" don't haunt me like they do Kevin Lowe because at the end of the day, Drew Doughty had a Kelly Hrudey poster on his wall and Los Angeles Kings bedsheets. He's wanted to be a King his whole life and with the contracts for Kopitar, Brown and Greene keeping them around for a few years, I have no worries that Doughty will sign with the Kings because of the Stanley Cup potential. Now... will it be a crazy 11 year contract? Probably not. Dean Lombardi will want to keep the flexibility to re-sign his young players as well as go after a few big free agents over the next couple years. The Kings are close... but they are still an impact scorer away from making any real noise in the Western Conference.