Dancing in the Reign: Dean Lombardi’s Deadline Demons, Add Bad-Timing To The List
December 11th presented the Kings with an intriguing project. When Marco Sturm was acquired that day, the Kings were hinging on reward for little cost, optimistic the Boston Bruins‘ veteran would find a way to bounce back from yet another knee injury. The Kings were undoubtedly taking a gamble on Sturm, who had been on Boston’s Injured Reserve since May 2010 with a torn ACL and MCL in his right knee. However, there was reason to believe Marco Sturm would recover and instill his proven veteran presence to this offense. Sturm showed his ability to rebound from a knee injury last year. After tearing his left knee’s meniscus and ACL during the ’08-’09 season, Sturm bounced back with 22 goals, 15 assists, totaling 27 points in 76 games in ’09-’10. I maintained a positive outlook, claiming severe injuries to separate knees was better than reoccurring damage on just one. That was optimism, and we all know how that tends to pan-out. Knee tendinitis played role of the lingering after-effect, stunting Sturm’s opportunity to integrate into the Kings’ offense.
As foreshadowed by Terry Murray‘s harsh opinion after Thursday night’s return to Staples Center, Marco Sturm was placed on waivers Friday morning. Hours later, highly-touted prospect Andrei Loktionov suffered what looks to be a season-ending injury to his left shoulder in a game against the Bridgeport Sound Tigers, the AHL affiliate of the New York Islanders, the only professional hockey organization to beat the Kings in regulation since January 20th. Loktionov filled Sturm’s void the past few weeks, returning to the Kings’ lineup for his second stint of the season, recording 3 goals and 2 assists in 12 games. Sturm’s return to the Kings’ lineup this week sent Loktionov back to the Manchester Monarchs on Sunday, a move questioned by many – including myself. Loktionov still provided a sense of security to Sturm’s injury history, with his duties just a phone call away. Instead, the hockey gods pulled the unthinkable. Just as the Kings allotted Marco Sturm for the taking to all NHL clubs via waivers, his replacement went down. Immediately, the 24-hour deadline for a team to retrieve Sturm triggered the nerves. The Washington Capitals claimed Marco Sturm early this morning, pounding the salt-shaker on Dean Lombardi‘s failed attempt to open roster options at the deadline. Instead, the Kings find themselves without Sturm, as well as the prospect responsible for upholding his void.
With the trade-deadline just hours away, the Kings find themselves shorthanded in unthinkable fashion. The options available within the organization aren’t very attractive. You’re talking players like Peter Harrold, Davis Drewiske, Kevin Westgarth, and Brad Richardson to mend the loss. Richardson aside, Marco Sturm and Andrei Loktionov are clearly better options, but no longer are they available. There’s still time for an addition, does Dean Lombardi counteract Friday’s losses with a deal? As for available forwards still on the market, the Kings could still be targeting four players; Brad Richards, David Booth, Dustin Penner, and Ales Hemsky. I don’t believe Friday’s occurrences strengthen Lombardi’s pursuit of a top-six forward, but they certainly trigger second thoughts when negotiating. Neither Sturm or Loktionov should be the cause of a knee-jerk rental acquisition, but their losses should ascend Lombardi’s hunt for a prioritized long-term offensive addition. Dean Lombardi‘s reputation for inactivity at the trade-deadline is further hampered by Friday’s bad timing. What remains to be seen is his reaction as the deadline approaches. Only time will tell, and there isn’t much left.
Marco Sturm, Los Angeles Kings, Away Primary – Getty Images/Thearon W. Henderson
Andrei Loktionov, Manchester Monarchs, Away Primary – Manchester Union Leader
Dean Lombardi – Getty Images/Juan Ocampo