The Los Angeles Kings absolutely, positively must trade for offensive help.
They just fell to ninth place in the Western Conference by suffering consecutive shutout losses. First the Phoenix Coyotes got them, then the Calgary Flames blanked them.
There appear to be no internal solutions to this season-long scoring drought. Goaltender Jonathan Quick has played brilliantly this season, but he has suffered 18 one-goal losses.
Kings coach Darryl Sutter tried to wake up power forward Dustin Penner by rendering him a healthy scratch for three consecutive games, to no avail. Penner, earning $4.25 million on the last year of his contract, has just five goals and eight assists this season.
“It's definitely frustrating. I think it's been frustrating all year for all the players in here,” Kings captain Dustin Brown told the Los Angeles Times. “The lack of scoring. Tonight we had some really good chances. (Miikka) Kiprusoff made that save on Penner in the first It was a world-class save.”
Penner’s ineffectiveness, combined with injuries to Simon Gagne (post-concussion syndrome) and Jarret Stoll (lower body), prompted Sutter to flank No. 2 center Mike Richards with youngsters Dwight King and Jordan Nolan.
King is a big lad, at 6-foot-3 and 227 pounds. He scored 24 goals at Manchester of the American Hockey League last season and had 11 in 50 games this season. In his first four games with the Kings this season he had a goal and an assist.
Nolan is about the same size. He has just 14 goals in 115 AHL games, but 234 penalty minutes. He should be a fourth-liner in the NHL, not a second-line player.
It’s hard to imagine either player moving the bar much during trade talks between Los Angeles and Columbus concerning power forward Rick Nash. Goaltender Jonathan Bernier would be much higher on the Blue Jackets list, for instance.