The Globe and Mail’s Eric Duhatschek has a column today about the upcoming NHL trade deadline, and how it’s shaping up to be a buyer’s market.
In it, Duhatschek lists a number of potential rental defensemen, including the “Coyotes’ Zbynek Michalek, the Carolina Hurricanes’ Andrej Sekera, the Edmonton Oilers’ Jeff Petry or the Maple Leafs’ Roman Polak, a player coveted by the Kings.”
We presume Duhatschek, a well-respected hockey reporter, isn’t just pulling those last six words out of thin air and that the Kings do, indeed, have an interest in Polak.
It wouldn’t be a surprise if they do. Polak, 28, is a rugged, right-shooting defender that could add depth and experience to a Kings’ blue line that no longer has Willie Mitchell and may not have Slava Voynov for a while, or even ever again.
Polak, Toronto’s leader with 183 hits, is signed through next season for a cap hit of $2.75 million. He was traded to the Leafs by the Blues in June.
Dustin Brown thinks it’s a matter of emotion. And maybe there’s something to his argument. The way the Kings play when they’re successful takes commitment.
But Darryl Sutter disagrees. He doesn’t think his team’s problems have as much to do with emotion as they do with a different “personnel.”
“We’re not the same team,” Sutter said after last night’s 4-0 loss to Washington, per L.A. Kings Insider. “It’s a quite a bit different team.”
The biggest difference is on the blue line, where Willie Mitchell is no longer and Slava Voynov may or may not be again. The result is Drew Doughty and Jake Muzzin logging around four minutes more per game — Doughty’s averaging 29:20, compared to 25:42 last season — and Brayden McNabb playing, period.
And it makes one wonder if frustrated GM Dean Lombardi will be active at the trade deadline, perhaps acquiring one of the available right-shooting defensemen to replace Voynov.
Because make no mistake, the Kings are in trouble. Nobody’s counting them out — never count out the Kings — but according to Sports Club Stats, their chances of making the playoffs have fallen to 30.9 percent.
The Kings play Thursday in Florida and Saturday in Tampa Bay before finishing off their five-game road trip Monday in Columbus.
An interesting name on the waiver wire today — Dylan Olsen, the Florida defenseman taken 28th overall at the 2009 NHL Entry Draft.
Olsen, 24, was acquired by Florida from Chicago in last year’s Kris Versteeg trade, and started brightly with the Panthers by scoring nine points in his first 17 games.
He’s had a tougher go of things this year, though, and has been a healthy scratch on a few occasions; the arrivals of Willie Mitchell and Aaron Ekblad pushed Olsen into a bottom-pairing role and he played just 11:42 in his last game, a 5-4 loss to Detroit on Tuesday.
In a move that’s connected to putting Olsen on waivers, the Panthers called up d-man Alex Petrovic from AHL San Antonio on Wednesday.
Olsen is in the first of a two-year, $1.55 million deal that carries a $775,000 annual cap hit. He’ll be a RFA when it expires in 2016.