Kings not big on trade talk

CHRIS STEVENSON, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:49 AM ET

Talk about teams in the trade market and the Los Angeles Kings are right in the conversation.

A young team on the rise with cap space (about $5.7 million) is always going to fit the criteria of needing another piece or two, but Kings general manager Dean Lombardi remains skeptical a big move is a given for his team.

The Kings had been linked in speculation to Calgary Flames captain Jarome Iginla, who's since been told by the Flames he wouldn't be traded this season, and the fit would seem to be a logical one.

The Kings are the youngest team in the league and have to be considered a contender, so the addition of a leader like Iginla would have made sense, right?

"The players tell you where you are," said Lombardi as the Kings prepared to play the Ottawa Senators in the third game of a four-game Eastern swing Monday night.

"We've got the youngest team in the league and we've met a lot of challenges. You've got to make sure it's the right time to make a move. I think the timing of a trade is as important as who. We're constantly evaluating. The players (by their play) will tell us if we do anything at all."

To that end, Lombardi and his management gang are in a different situation with the Kings than, say, a veteran team like the Detroit Red Wings. You know what you are going to get from the Wings pretty much from now until their season ends.

With the Kings, who have a big group of young and emerging players, the strengths and weaknesses of the team reveal themselves on a weekly basis with the ebb and flow that comes with young players finding their way.

"The players' learning curve is never straight up," said Lombardi, moving his hand up and down like a wave.

If some of those young players continue to grow, the need for a big move closer to the trade deadline is lessened.

Lombardi was also clear on how he felt about the Kings having a window that is opening for post-season success now and won't be open for long.

"I don't believe in that 12-month window stuff," he said.

"It's not rocket science. We're following (former New York Islanders GM) Bill Torrey's model. You build a reserve list. You improve every year and you get younger every year and that sets you up to be good for a long time."

The other thing is, Lombardi likes the way the pieces fit together with the Kings right now.

"It's not only talent," he said. "These guys really do like each other. They care about the jersey and each other and that's not a given anymore. You put young players in a toxic environment and you're going to ruin them. You care about chemistry in the room, you always do."

Easy to say now, but maybe losing in the summer was the best thing to happen to the Kings for the winter.

The Kings lost out in the bidding for big name -- if not big game -- free agent Ilya Kovalchuk and yet still sit in second place in the Western Conference behind the Wings heading into Monday night's games.

They have some of the cap space that would have been eaten up by Kovalchuk's deal -- talk was the Kings had offered him an $80-million, 15-year deal -- and the minutes he would have eaten up have been effectively filled by other players.

"We stayed away from the big dog," said Lombardi of the Kings ultimate approach in free agency, opting for veteran defenceman Willie Mitchell and forward Alex Ponikarovsky (both injured right now).

"It's not only the quality of the player, but the fit," said Lombardi.

For now, he won't know the fit until he knows the size of the job.

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