Since the Kings have struggled all season, it’s difficult to really know how much Monday’s trade deadline is affecting their play.
Team captain Anze Kopitar is tired of hearing that excuse, though.
“I’m sure it’s on everybody’s mind, but at the end of the day showing up to the game, there’s nothing more important than that,” Kopitar said following Saturday’s 6-1 defeat at Florida, the Kings’ seventh consecutive loss. “Deadline or whatever the case may be, we can’t show an effort like we did today. It’s embarrassing. We just can’t keep playing like that.”
The Kings on Monday continue their four-game road trip with a game at Tampa Bay (47-11-4, 98), which easily has the best record in the league. The Kings, on the other hand, at 23-32-6 (52 points) have the worst record in the Western Conference and were 13 points out of a playoff spot ahead of Sunday’s slate of games.
Indeed, it has been that kind of a season. It has resulted general manager Rob Blake admitting that he is making moves geared toward the future. He traded forward Tanner Pearson to Pittsburgh for Carl Hagelin in November, but that early season transaction was one made to help this season.
Blake has since traded strong defenseman Jake Muzzin to Toronto (on Jan. 28) for a first-round draft pick this year, minor-league forward forward Carl Grundstrom and the reserve rights to junior-league defenseman Sean Durzi.
Blake on Feb. 11 traded forward Nate Thompson to Montreal for a fourth-round pick in 2019; the Kings also gave up their fifth-round pick in ’19.
Hagelin this past Thursday was sent packing to the Washington Capitals for a third-round pick this year and a conditional sixth-round pick in 2020.
It therefore won’t be surprising to see Blake make another trade or two by the deadline, which comes at noon on Monday.
There are a few players on the team with no-movement clauses in their contracts – Kopitar, defenseman Drew Doughty and forward Ilya Kovalchuk.
Defenseman Dion Phaneuf also has a no-movement clause that includes a 12-team trade list, and forward Dustin Brown has a no-trade clause that includes seven teams to which he can’t be traded.
But there are plenty of others, many of whom have had their names mentioned in trade rumors. There’s goaltender Jonathan Quick, who is signed through the 2022-23 season. Quick had early season knee surgery and has had some rough times, as his uncharacteristic goals-against-average of 3.18 in 32 games attests; his career GAA over 12 seasons is 2.33.
But at age 33 he is still capable of making the great save many can’t, and it’s safe to say his high GAA is partly because the team at times has not played well in front of him.
Quick gave up all six goals Saturday. With Jack Campbell (2.25 GAA) seemingly ready to be a No. 1 goalie, a trade involving Quick would not be shocking.
Defenseman Alec Martinez has also seen his name surface in the trade winds. Like Quick, he played a significant role in the Kings’ Stanley Cup titles in 2012 and 2014. He is signed through 2020-21.
It would seem that just about any forward on the team not with a no-movement or no-trade clause could be available. Those most-often mentioned in the gossip are Tyler Toffoli, Jeff Carter and Kyle Clifford.
Toffoli has 27 points in 61 games, Carter has 25 points in 55 games. Both have been inconsistent, but on a team that scores an average of only 2.34 goals – second worst in the league – that can be said about pretty much everyone on the team.
Clifford has become somewhat of a hot commodity as, at age 28, he might be having his best season. He doesn’t score much – he has 13 points in 51 games with a career-high of 15 in 2014-15 – but he’s a tough guy who does so many other things well, and he rarely leavesanything on the ice.
KINGS VS. LIGHTNING
When: Monday, 4:30 p.m.
Where: Amalie Arena
Records: Kings 23-32-6 (52 points), Lightning 47-11-4 (98 points)
TV: NBC Sports Network
Radio: Kings Audio Network (iHeart Radio)