With Jeff Carter’s expected return at some point this season to help the offense, many believe the Los Angeles Kings could turn to their defensive unit for a trade deadline upgrade instead. Though the Kings have allowed the second fewest goals in the league, there is always room for a marginal upgrade as teams head into the playoffs.
Now, Bruce Garrioch writes in his latest piece for the Ottawa Citizen, that the Kings have shown a “mild” interest in both Dion Phaneuf and Johnny Oduya. Apparently, Los Angeles made a play for Phaneuf at the draft last June but couldn’t come to an agreement, though it’s unclear how much contact there has been since then.
The Kings obviously already have a stud defenseman in Drew Doughty that can log nearly half the game and is a perennial Norris candidate, but they could have an opening in the back half of the group for someone a little more established. The team has relied on players like Kurtis MacDermid, Oscar Fantenberg, Christian Folin and Kevin Gravel this season to various degrees, not trusting any of them to play a real regular shift and instead relying on their top group of Doughty, Alec Martinez, Jake Muzzin and Derek Forbort.
An addition like Phaneuf, who has been miscast in the past as a top-pairing player but could still have something to give in a more sheltered role, could give the Kings one of the deepest groups in the league. That would come with quite a financial burden though, as the 32-year old Phaneuf still has three more seasons on his current contract with a $7MM cap hit (though the actual salary does drop off a bit).
It will be interesting to watch Ottawa over the next few weeks, as Garrioch reports that most of the interest from around the league surrounds Mike Hoffman, Zach Smith, Jean-Gabriel Pageau and Cody Ceci. If they’re to really start a fire sale, teams will be hovering like vultures trying to pull away any useful meat.