Maple Leafs v. Kings: All The Right...Words

The Leafs host one of those teams that you hear a lot about but never actually get to watch because they play during either bar time or Stewart/Colbert time. Sorry, I don't need constant reminders of how awesome hockey can be with a good team. Watching them beat up the Leafs every once in a while (read 66% of the time) is bad enough. I've heard rumours that this kid Drew Doughty is supposed to be pretty awesome and Dustin Brown is a hitting machine and they have a bunch of young forwards that get rotated through out the years. To be honest, I liked the Kings more when they had Ziggy Palffy. Anyway, two major players for the Leafs said very important things.

First up, the Mouth From Massachusetts:

"I didn't think we'd struggle like we're struggling right now, no, especially with the upgrades on defense," said Burke, who gave Mike Komisarek a five-year, $22.5-million contract and Francois Beauchemin a three-year, $11.4-million deal only to see each struggle to a minus nine defensive rating.

"We talked about playoffs as a goal. I thought it was realistic after our preseason. And it obviously looks remote right now."

I think it's pretty clear to everyone since about November that Brian Burke made a number of moves based on the assumption that not everything that could go wrong would, in fact, go wrong in a spectacular fashion. Turns out he's never met our old friend Murphy and his bullshit Law. I hope to write more about this later but he wasn't off of his rocker. He also mentions that it's a re-tool and not a complete rebuild and everyone's been harping on that but let's just agree to the reality that a true rebuild in the sense that the Penguins did it just isn't possible post-lockout for a number of reasons. I don't have all day to ennumerate them but even Al Strachan realises this fact.

That could be a while, especially without a first-round pick in the next two drafts. The Kings rebuilt through the draft, and it's paying off.

- Helene Elliott, LA Times

Why can't people accept that good drafting involves more than just first round picks and that building a team involves more than just good drafting. I understand that they are clearly big aspects but binary thinking kills me. Also, I don't know if I'd call six straight seasons out of the playoffs is 'paying off'. But I mean, the Kings are firmly ensconced in 6th place in the West. There's no way that any team will make up the 3-6 point gap in the standings. And going forward the Kings are in no immediate trouble according to CapGeek. They have over $10M in cap space and only Alexander Frolov as a major UFA next year. No doubt he'll want near Anze Kopitar money.

The year after that Doughnuts comes off his ELC which is going to be a hefty deal, Michal Handzus and Justin Williams are UFAs that probably won't be re-signed but they'll need to be replaced while Oscar Moller, Wayne Simmonds, Jack Johnson, Peter Harrold, and Jonathan Bernier are all RFAs. That will all take some fancy cap-dancing but I imagine it can be done. I mean, it's not like they have a top five ranked prospect pool to replenish the team until the end of time.

Now, onto slightly happier thoughts!

"That's why I signed here in the beginning. I saw this as a place where I could play for a number of years. It's up to myself, I guess, to play good and show that I want to be here."

- Jonas Gustavsson via Michael Traikos, National Post

Ok kid, now go prove it. The desire to succeed in Toronto won't cut down on the value of the deal but hopefully it's added motivation.

As for other stuff, MLHS has some germane numbers (but not too many words!) for tonight's matchup so check them out and the skip right to the "Kings GM spotted in the ACC - Trade for Brayden Schenn imminent" orgy in the comments.

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