EL SEGUNDO, CA — While everyone was ooh-ing and ahh-ing over the Los Angeles Kings acquiring sniper Marian Gaborik from the Columbus Blue Jackets in a trade deadline deal on March 5 (see LA Kings Trade For Marian Gaborik Is A Good One, But… for details and analysis), they may have overlooked another deadline day trade by the Kings that could have a longer and deeper impact on the franchise.
In that deal, the Kings acquired defenseman Brayden McNabb, right wing Jonathan Parker, and second round picks in the 2014 and 2015 NHL Drafts from the Buffalo Sabres in exchange for forward/defenseman Nicolas Deslauriers and right wing Hudson Fasching.
Lombardi noted the difficulty he had in giving up highly-touted prospects in this deal.
“Very hard,” said Lombardi. “That’s one of those deals where neither GM really likes it.”
“We gave up two very good prospects with size, but it was one of those things where you say, you know what? You’ve got to give to get,” added Lombardi. “This was interesting too, because there is a new GM there. He was very decisive and sometimes you’re not sure, but he’s had a tremendous amount of background in personnel. He recognized the same thing. He won’t like giving up McNabb, but we both had a surplus and it made sense for both of us.”
“You’ve got to give to get. It’s a hard deal to make, but when you step back—you’re not going to get this guy unless you do give up good players. You just hope it works out for both sides. That’s generally the way hockey deals work. It’s a classic hockey deal. This is a guy we highlighted. I think you’ve heard me say this before, even seven years ago, about defensemen—and actually I think it’s gotten worse—that it’s very difficult to get a top four defensemen, and if you look at even the ones [who are], they’re usually top ten [draft] picks. I’m talking about legitimate ones. So the supply of these guys is very limited. The only reason I think Buffalo does this is because they’re fortunate. The fortunate part was, not only did we have a number of their defensemen very high, but they had a surplus of them. We felt we had a surplus of forwards that are attractive. So it kind of worked in the sense that the player that we really liked was on a team that could afford to part with one because they lacked forwards which we had.”
Lombardi indicated that the 23-year-old McNabb, who is 6-4 and weighs 207 pounds, fills a hole in the Kings’ depth chart, and probably in their top six defensemen, perhaps as soon as next season.
“It’s probably safe to say for the past two, two-and-a-half years, it’s part of building a team,” Lombardi explained. “You’re not only seeing what you have, but what you’ve got coming, and we felt even where our team was at, there was going to be a critical point that we get a young defenseman who has a chance to play in our top four. That was one of the scouts’ jobs over the last two years—to get that list together of, either guys that are drafted and are playing junior hockey, or drafted and playing in the minor leagues.”
“This has been an ongoing process to compile that list, essentially just like a draft list,” Lombardi elaborated. “So these pro scouts are here now. We had this player rated as one of the top left shot defenseman who fit our M.O. in the American league. He’s still green, his skating needs to improve, he’s got to work some on his fundamentals and his reads, but he has a lot of the attributes that we value and has a chance to be a top four guy. With that, he’s got some snarl.”
“That fills a huge hole for us, hopefully, down the road. The other thing attractive about it, obviously, is he’s already paid some dues in the minors. He’s shown he’s a top player in the minors and he’s had his cups of coffee in the NHL. He’s closer to being ready than if I had to do a deal and go after a kid who was still in junior hockey to make this deal.”
As stated earlier, this trade could actually be the biggest deadline deal the Kings made this season.
“We’re really excited to have [McNabb],” said Lombardi. “It’s nice to be able to say, ‘OK. This could be taken care of now.’ This was a potential big hole for us. Like I say, he’s got size, he can move the puck, he’s got a long reach, he’s got to work on his foot speed, and his feet need work. I think part of his game is he’s over aggressive at times, which I like.”
“We’ll tame that.” added Lombardi. “I’d rather tame a lion than paint stripes on the kitty cat.”
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