Tag: Dean Lombardi

Justin Williams

What to do about Justin Williams


After seeing Los Angeles Kings forward Justin Williams seemingly always be in the right place at the right time during the Kings’ run to the Stanley Cup, his “clutch” abilities earned him the Conn Smythe Trophy.

It also has put the team in a bit of an awkward position headed into this season.

Once the Kings roll through the 2014-15 season, Williams, 32, could become an unrestricted free agent. There’s no doubt he’s been great for the Kings since arriving in a trade with the Carolina Hurricanes in 2009. Since then, he’s been a fairly steady 15-20 goal per season player who just manages to become superhuman in the playoffs.

Williams will be coming off a contract with a $3.65 million cap hit. Players his age don’t tend to continue getting better as they get older and the Kings have a pair of young players pushing to graduate to his spot on a wing with Anze Kopitar and Dustin Brown.

Tyler Toffoli and Tanner Pearson stepped up big in the playoffs themselves and Toffoli in particular has the offensive touch that has many thinking he’ll be a goal-scoring stud for them for years to come.

The question for Kings GM Dean Lombardi wrests on a couple of matters: The salary cap and when it’s the right time to part ways.

According to CapGeek.com, the Kings have over $59 million committed to next season. While the cap is surely to jump, they’ll have key RFAs to re-sign in Toffoli, Pearson, Kyle Clifford, Jordan Nolan, defenseman Jake Muzzin, and goalie Martin Jones.

It’s unlikely that all those players would put the Kings in cap peril, but retaining Williams could potentially stunt one of the forwards’ growth. That situation makes it tricky for Lombardi to decide if it’s time to hand the keys over to the kids at forward or re-commit to Williams and potentially give him a raise.

If Lombardi and coach Darryl Sutter feel it’s Toffoli’s time to slide up the lineup, that’d make for an apt time to wish Williams well on his future endeavors and thank him for the Stanley Cups.

Then again, making rosters work with a lot of depth hasn’t been an issue for the Kings and rolling four lines that can beat you has been one of their trademarks. The Kings will find a way to make it work with or without Williams if it comes to that, but another monster postseason with a Stanley Cup could make him an icon impossible to let go in L.A.

Kings, four other teams have nine picks in 2014 Draft

Dean Lombardi

L.A. Kings GM Dean Lombardi is still riding the high of winning the Stanley Cup for the second time in three seasons, but he’s going to have a busy time at the NHL Draft next week.

The Kings will have nine picks at the 2014 Draft. Joining L.A. with a busy day will be the St. Louis Blues, Dallas Stars, New York Islanders, and Washington Capitals.

For GMs Doug Armstrong and Garth Snow, they’re a bit more used to this dance while Jim Nill and Brian MacLellan haven’t been running the show at the draft on their own very long. For MacLellan it’ll be his first and Nill his second.

The success the Kings have had in recent drafts says Lombardi and their array of scouts have done a solid job of finding those gems in the middle to late part of the first and second-rounds. Part of L.A.’s “That 70s Line” is a good example of that as Tanner Pearson was the 30th overall selection at the 2012 Draft and Tyler Toffoli went 47th overall in 2010.

Those five teams won’t be the only busy ones, however, as six other teams have eight selections. The Buffalo Sabres will have four picks in the Top 50 and five of the first 61 picks including three second-round selections. Sabres GM Tim Murray has made it clear he’s hoping to trade up to get another first-round pick to go along with the second overall selection.

With the number of questions surrounding the depth of talent in this year’s draft, these teams may not just be busy making selections but dealing them as well.

PHT Morning Skate: Lehtonen excited to play with Thomas

Kari Lehtonen

PHT’s Morning Skate takes a look around the world of hockey to see what’s happening and what we’ll be talking about around the NHL world and beyond.

Kari Lehtonen could’ve been upset at hearing of Tim Thomas’ arrival in Dallas after the deadline day deal. Instead, he’s anxious to meet him and appreciates that Thomas, “likes Finnish people.” (Stars.com)

Editor’s Note: Pro Hockey Talk’s partner FanDuel is hosting a $1,500 Fantasy Hockey league for Friday’s NHL games. It’s $10 to join and first prize is $350. Starts Friday at 7pm ET. Here’s the FanDuel link.

More goalie talk: Blues goalie Brian Elliott totally gets why the team went out and got Ryan Miller. (Post-Dispatch)

Add Los Angeles Kings GM Dean Lombardi to the list of people saying the salary cap will only jump to $68 million next season thanks to a weaker Canadian dollar. (Los Angeles Times)

Boston’s Shawn Thornton says the Bruins are a “confident bunch” as the season rolls towards the playoffs. They should be, they’re probably the best team in the East right now. (CSNNE.com)

Zdeno Chara is happy to have countryman Andrej Meszaros there to help out. It’s good to keep the captain happy. (CSNNE.com)

Paul Stastny is glad to have trade deadline day behind him so the rumors can stop. (The Denver Post)

Finally, in today’s weird news, Wayne Simmonds and Claude Giroux are going to have a different kind of opponent coming up soon:

Don’t fall for the hidden ball trick, you guys.