After watching the Los Angeles Kings win the Stanley Cup Monday night I had to take a good look at how they got there. It didn’t happen over night. Was it good drafting, free agents or luck that got them to the top of the NHL? It turns out it was all the above!
The Kings were a team that was struggling and so brought in a new GM in 2006, Dean Lombardi. Dustin Brown was on the team already and Lombardi was lucky to already have had Anze Kopitar and Jonathan Quick drafted the year before. Other then that, as far as I can tell the whole team has changed since he took over. In six to seven years he totally overhauled the team! Wow!
Lombardi made some great draft picks that include Drew Doughty and Alec Martinez. Along with those two, six more picks played on this year’s team. Two others, Wayne Simmonds and Brayden Schenn were traded for Mike Richards. Not too shabby!
He solidified the holes in his lineup with trades and free agent signings. Getting Jarret Stoll and Matt Greene from Edmonton added a lot of character to the team. The same goes for free agents Willie Mitchell and Rob Scuderi. How many holes would those four plug in the Oilers lineup next year?
He did get lucky with the improved late season play of Dustin Penner and a rebound year for Colin Fraser. Making the trade for Jeff Carter from Columbus was a big gamble because he was giving up a blue-chip defenseman in Jack Johnson but that deal came up aces for him as well. Carter chipped in with some timely goals.
Having the nuts to bring in Daryl Sutter for a mid-season coaching change might have been his best and luckiest move. It seems like he was meant to coach this group and he did push all the right buttons!
There are many comparables between the Kings and Oilers. Both teams decided a total rebuild was required to restock their clubs. Good drafting positions helped retool the teams with some talent. So far, that is where the similarities stop. The Kings went on to sign solid free agents, make bold trades and a critical coaching change.
If the Kings are the poster team for rebuilding a club then by that standard the Oilers are half way through their rebuild. I think the second half is much harder to do but at least the Oilers are now half way home and it is proven to work!
I love that many of the Kings rolled through the playoffs with full on beards! Why is that tradition starting to fall away? I love seeing those beards! There were some great ones – Penner – and then some pretty weak ones like those sported by Brown and Kopitar.
Not much fun…
I feel terrible for Steve Bernier. We will all be talking about that hit for years. Yes, I think it was dirty but that is the defenseman in me talking. Maybe it shouldn’t have been a major but with Scuderi lying on the ice the refs didn’t have much choice.