When the Los Angeles Kings fired head coach John Stevens on November 4th, the team was 4-8-1 with a points percentage of .346. Since then, L.A. is 7-10-0 with a points percentage of .412. Despite the change behind the bench to Willie Desjardins and also the swap of Tanner Pearson for Carl Hagelin, not much has really changed for the Kings. As such, it’s no surprise that GM Rob Blake is still searching for another trade partner to shake up his roster.
The Ottawa Sun’s Bruce Garrioch reports that the Kings are actively working the phones and are hoping to make another move ahead of the NHL’s holiday roster freeze, beginning on December 19th. That gives Blake ten days to put together another trade. A rumor emerged yesterday that the offensive struggles and hefty contract of Jeff Carter, who lacks any trade protection, could lead the Kings to move the former scoring star this season. However, Garrioch feels that Tyler Toffoli is the more likely name to move next, stating that L.A. is receiving plenty of interest in the young winger. Toffoli’s $4.6MM cap hit is only about $700K less than Carter’s, but expires at the end of next season, whereas the 33-year-old Carter has three years remaining after this season. On top of that, the 26-year-old Toffoli has only two less points than Carter thus far and has the relative youth to change his game on a new team and return to his previous 50-point pace of play. Carter may simply be slowing down and may not be able to make a similar post-trade adjustment. Blake is likely impartial when it comes to moving his disappointing forwards and is likely to get a better return for Toffoli, despite Carter’s name value.
In terms of finding a trade partner, Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman hears that the market is active right now. Friedman relayed the opinion that the resolution of the William Nylander situation in Toronto has re-ignited trade interest in other players across the league. In naming a number of teams reportedly looking to make a deal, Friedman not only names the Kings, but also a pair of potential matches in the Boston Bruins and Minnesota Wild. Both teams have strong rosters capable of competing for the Stanley Cup this season, but have run into struggles lately for one reason or another. Both Boston and Minnesota share a need for secondary scoring and have the intriguing young and fast forwards that L.A. would likely look for in return. The Bruins could move on from a Danton Heinen or Anders Bjork to add Toffoli, while the Wild could part with Charlie Coyle or Joel Eriksson Ek. Other teams that would seem to be fits to add a Kings scoring forward include the Carolina Hurricanes, New York Islanders, or Philadelphia Flyers. If Garrioch’s report that Blake is eager to make a move before the Christmas break proves true, a deal involving these players and teams could be on the way soon.