It's beyond obvious that the Kings lack offensive power. The problem first came to light last season, but has never been more apparent than now. Averaging a mere 2.07 goals per game, the Kings have the fewest Goals For in the league. The only thing that has kept them in the hunt for the playoffs is strong defense and fantastic goaltending. However, goalies and defenses need scoring to be worth anything. This fact is well-illustrated by their five 1-0 losses this season. And seemingly every attempt to fix the problem has blown up in the Kings' faces.
Last season's bid was on Dustin Penner. After tallying 21 goals and 18 assists in 62 games with the lowly Edmonton Oilers, the hockey world shook its head as Penner was only able to muster 2 goals and 4 assists in the final 19 games of the season. This season hasn't been much better. In 44 games this season, Penner has only been able to gather 3 more goals and 4 more assists than he did in his stint with the Kings last year. The former 30-goal scorer is now a punchline that further frustrates L.A.
In the offseason, the Kings continued their search for scoring. They seemed to have found their answer by being the recipient of part of Philadelphia's roster explosion this summer. I was among the many that was shocked by the Flyers sending their captain to L.A. Mike Richards started the year off well by scoring 13 goals before Christmas, seemingly headed for a 30-goal season. Since then, however, Richards has only tallied once, ONCE!
A few years ago, Los Angeles was just happy to make the postseason. Having made the playoffs two years in a row and subsequently making hasty exits, the Kings are no longer satisfied with just making an appearance. And with the way things are going, though, they're not even promised a spot in the dance. Pressure has never been higher on the Kings' front office to make a move as the the February 28th trade deadline draws nearer.
As mentioned in a former post, this year's trade landscape has been rather barren. Few teams think they are far enough out of the playoff race to discount themselves as contender and to begin building for next year. One team that IS, without a doubt, out of the hunt is Columbus and they are shopping two large offensive pieces that could be of great use to the Kings. The Kings will surely land one of them.
Also mentioned in a previous post, the Blue Jackets needs are in the areas of goaltending and defense. Luckily for the Kings, they have a wealth of both. Jonathan Quick is a stud, as we all should know, and his dominance has made it hard for the Kings to give Jonathan Bernier a chance to show his worth. It's obvious that the Kings don't need a goalie tandem and trade speculations have included his name for over a year now. Columbus would be more than happy to have another option in net besides "Sieve" Mason, Allen York (equally terrible), and Curtis Sanford (currently injured).
However, it's unlikely that Bernier would be enough to draw Jeff Carter or Rick Nash out of Columbus's hands. Not a problem. The Kings' defense includes Drew Doughty, Davis Drewiske, Jack Johnson, Matt Greene, Rob Scuderi, Willie Mitchell, and Alec Martinez. That doesn't even include promising youngster, Slava Voynov. The Kings could spare one not named Doughty for the sake of adding offense.
However, there is the tricky situation of whether Carter or Nash WANT to come to L.A. Nash has a no-trade clause and seems to be a little less willing to waive it to go to L.A. rather than one of his other suitors, the ever-promising Rangers or the Kings division rival, San Jose. However, Carter has been MORE than willing to leave Columbus since he showed up. Another piece of shrapnel from Philly's roster bomb, Carter had trouble accepting the fact that he had been traded from a contender to a team that had only seen the postseason once (and they didn't even see much of it then) in it's 11-year history. Since then, Carter has attempted to make the most of things and wait for his chance to escape. Add to the equation the fact that his former teammate, Richards, plays for the Kings and this just became interesting.
The Kings can't afford to attempt finishing the season without scoring help. Columbus can't afford to pass up a chance for solid defensive help as well as goaltending. And Carter can't afford wasting another season in Columbus. So watch Carter go to L.A. before Tuesday. Book it.