In their weekly chat, ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun and Scott Burnside discussed the dwindling defenseman market heading into the trade deadline and some of the big names still available.
The biggest name of all? Los Angeles defenseman Jack Johnson.
I had a few team executives this week tell me he’s in play but only for the type of deal that hands the Kings the top-line forward they’ve been craving. Shut out 1-0 at home by Phoenix Thursday night, I have to imagine Kings GM Dean Lombardi will be even more determined in his efforts to land Rick Nash. Jeff Carter and Ales Hemsky are other possibilities. The Kings can’t score and must make the playoffs. Lots of pressure there.
While it would seem odd to part with Johnson 13 months after signing him to a seven-year, $30.5 million deal, Lombardi’s clearly in “you gotta give to get” territory. Softening the blow of losing Johnson would be that L.A. is solid defensively — Drew Doughty, Willie Mitchell, Rob Scuderi and Matt Greene make for a good top-four — and there’s a plethora of young blueline prospects in the system.
21-year-old Slava Voynov has played 33 games for the Kings this year and has been lauded by head coach Darryl Sutter. 22-year-old Thomas Hickey, the fourth overall pick at the 2007 draft, is one of the leading d-man scorers in Manchester and 19-year-old Derek Forbort — taken 15th overall in 2010 — is still plying his trade for the University of North Dakota.
One more thing to consider with Johnson? According to Capgeek, he doesn’t have a no-trade or no-movement clause.