February 20, 2012
Kings can deal Bernier for offence
By Mike Zeisberger, QMI Agency
The clock is ticking on Los Angeles Kings general manager Dean Lombardi.
With his team suffering back-to-back 1-0 losses over the weekend, Lombardi woke up Monday to find his team in ninth place in the Western Conference. If the Kings fail to reach the post-season after giving up a rich cache of draft picks and prospects for Dustin Penner and Mike Richards over the past 12 months, the consensus is that Lombardi will be toast in L.A.
Rick Nash. Jeff Carter. Ales Hemsky. It stands to reason that Lombardi needs to pick up at least one of these prominent scorers to beef up a woeful offence that has scratched out just one goal or less in five of its past seven games.
Given the woeful performances Columbus has received between the pipes, Kings backup goalie Jonathan Bernier, 23, would seem to be a perfect fit in a package for Nash and/or Carter. Bernier also could be an option in Edmonton, where Hemsky's days seem to be numbered.
No NHL GM is more under the gun to pull the trigger on a significant deal than Lombardi. If it means surrendering Bernier and/or defenceman Jack Johnson as part of a deal to bring in a significant scorer, so be it.
One glaring reason that Maple Leafs GM Brian Burke would avoid trading for Carter is the length of his contract. which still has 10 years remaining.
While Carter's cap hit is a relatively reasonable $5.2 million US per season, Burke consistently has said he does not believe in such long-term deals.
Last spring, when Carter still was with Philly, a Flyers executive referred to him as "the most miserable millionaire I've ever met."
Of course, alleged character issues swirled around Dion Phaneuf and Phil Kessel in their previous hockey homes and that didn't stop Burke from dealing for those players.
As for the news that the Leafs are not actively seeking goaltending help, consider that, with Jonas Gustavsson's contract running out at the end of the season, the goalie market likely will be more lucrative in the summer in the event the Leafs opt to go in a different direction.
IS PHILLY PHINISHED?
Given the recent acquisitions of Pavel Kubina from the Tampa Bay Lightning and Niklas Grossman from the Dallas Stars, Philadelphia Flyers GM Paul Holmgren addressed his top priority of augmenting the Flyers blue line.
Does that mean the Flyers are done dealing, especially since they reportedly have less than $1 million of cap space remaining?
If there still is interest in Nash, it will take some creative accounting for Holmgren to pull this one off, to be sure, even if a package includes the likes of a Sean Couturier, Brayden Schenn, James van Riemsdyk and/or Scott Hartnell.
Such are the headaches of attempting to fit in Nash's cap hit of $7.8 million US per season.
Meanwhile, Kubina participated in his first practice as a Flyer on Monday, then told reporters that he would consider re-signing with Philly over the summer. Kubina becomes an unrestricted free agent on July 1.
"I would like to stick around, that's for sure," Kubina said. "I never was the type of guy who likes to test the water.
"If I play well for this team and they want me, I don't have to go anywhere and test the water. That's the way I am."
VOTED OFF THE ISLAND?
When Ottawa Senators commentator Denis Potvin suggested Detroit director of pro scouting Mark Howe and Florida Panthers scout Peter Mahovlich were in attendance for Monday's Sens-Islanders game to eye Isles hulking 6-foot-4, 253-pound defenceman Milan Jurcina, Howe and Mahovlich broke into wry grins while refusing to verbally acknowledge Povin's suggestion.
Potvin later was informed that Isles defenceman Mark Eaton has asked for a trade and likely is in play too.
The Boston Bruins have asked about the availability of Edmonton Oilers veteran Ryan Smyth but, to no surprise, apparently were told he's not on the market. As Smyth told QMI Agency's Robert Tychkowski last week: "I'm staying put." ... The decision by Nashville Predators ownership to extend GM David Poile's deal through 2014-15 is a shrewd one. Has anyone done more with less than Poile and coach Barry Trotz? The acquisition of Hal Gill from Montreal is a prime example. Poile didn't have to sell the farm to get him. Nashville might not be the most offensively gifted team, but playing against a defence featuring Gill, Shea Weber and Ryan Suter will not be fun for any opponent, especially in the playoffs ... With Derek Smith projected to return as early as next week, the guessing is that the Calgary Flames might like to move defenceman Anton Babchuk for a forward. Babchuk is signed through 2013 with a cap hit of $2.5 million.