Jack Johnson was taken third overall in the first round of the 2005 entry draft. (Photo by Andy Devlin/NHLI via Getty Images)
In the wake of the Colorado Avalanche's recent trades there's talk management might not be done dealing before the Feb. 28 trade deadline.
Adrian Dater of the Denver Post recently observed one rumor making the rounds that had the Avs shipping forwards Paul Stastny, T.J. Galiardi and possibly another player or draft pick to the Los Angeles Kings for defenseman Jack Johnson, goaltender Jonathan Bernier and two-way center Jarret Stoll.
Dater was merely pointing out one notable rumor regarding the Avalanche, claiming he had “no real confidence” in it and was only noting how crazy things had been getting around the club of late.
Still, it seems a few fans are taking Dater's rumor (despite his warnings) seriously, anticipating this deal or something close to it is imminent between the two clubs.
As the trade deadline approaches the Kings are being closely watched, while rival clubs - such as the Avalanche – are making notable player deals. GM Dean Lombardi has been in the market for a first line left winger since last season and with his team jockeying with several others in the tight Western Conference playoff race, the anticipation Lombardi will pull the trigger on a major deal is understandable.
That being said, this current rumor is too one-sided in the Avalanche's favor, weakening Los Angeles’ defensive and goaltending depth.
Stastny is a center and, while he'd help the Kings, he's not the first line left winger they need. Galiardi has been battling injuries this season and wouldn't bolster their scoring depth.
The Kings recently re-signed Johnson to an expensive, multi-year extension, so it’s unlikely they'll ship him out now, while they'll likely keep Bernier to back up starter Jonathan Quick down the stretch.
Lombardi's seeming reluctance to make a significant trade has garnered some critical attention from the local media.
Helene Elliott of the Los Angeles Times reported the Kings were interested in left winger James Neal prior to his trade from Dallas to Pittsburgh, but they weren't willing to part with a top defenseman. She also reported Los Angeles has looked at Florida's David Booth and Edmonton's Ales Hemsky, but aren't willing to part with prospect Brayden Schenn.
Elliott suggested “it would be surprising if Lombardi does anything bigger than his usual and tedious mid-range deals.”
As The Globe and Mail's Eric Duhatschek observed, Lombardi is “a notorious conservative in a bit of a spot.”
Lombardi has a team filled with promising talent, which he's primarily responsible for putting together, and is loath to part with any of them, preferring instead to build a Stanley Cup contender around those players.
The problem, as Duhatschek observed, is the Kings have had a “wild up-and-down season” leaving them in a battle to make the playoffs and putting pressure on Lombardi to swing a deal to bolster their playoff hopes.
But such a move will mean sacrificing a good young player such as Johnson or Bernier or perhaps a top prospect such as Schenn, which Lombardi would undoubtedly prefer not to do.
One name linked to the Kings has been Buffalo Sabres center Tim Connolly, who's in the final year of his current contract and is not expected to be re-signed.
The Buffalo News recently speculated Connolly may be playing his final games with the Sabres this week, as he’s a candidate to be traded by Feb. 28.
Connolly would be an affordable fit with the Kings (as they might not have to give up a young player or prospect to get him) or perhaps the Minnesota Wild, who may get into the market for depth at center with team captain Mikko Koivu out for at least three weeks with a broken finger.
The Philadelphia Flyers recent acquisition of left winger Kris Versteeg from the Toronto Maple Leafs generated rumors right winger Nikolay Zherdev would become trade bait.
Recent speculation had the Flyers receiving half-a-dozen inquiries for Zherdev, but that was dismissed by Flyers GM Paul Holmgren. The club put Zherdev on waivers Wednesday, so if anyone is interested in the Russian's services, they will be able to pick him up on the cheap.
Holmgren's club has no glaring weaknesses that need to be addressed so there's no need to shop for additional depth elsewhere.
Rumor Roundup appears Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays only on thehockeynews.com. Lyle Richardson has been an NHL commentator since 1998 on his website, spectorshockey.net, and is a contributing writer for Foxsports.com and Eishockey Magazine.