The February 26th, trade deadline is fast approaching, and the Los Angeles Kings made a move that improves their defense. The Kings acquired Dion Phaneuf and Nate Thompson from the Ottawa Senators for Marian Gaborik and Nick Shore.
A Phaneuf-for-Gaborik swap would have rocked the hockey world back in 2008 but is merely just another of many transactions a decade later.
The Kings were in need of another top-four defenseman, and Phaneuf certainly provides a stabilizing presence for a team looking to contend for a postseason berth.
He’s not the player he once was, but he’s still a hard-hitter who offers a strong leadership presence on the ice.
Gaborik spent recent years plagued by injuries. He has only laced up his skates for more than 60 games just once in his past four seasons.
Although he started off well for the Kings after returning from injury in late November, he went eight games without scoring a point before being traded. He had just one point in his final 12 games with the Kings. Also, he scored no goals in his last 13 games with them.
The Kings made the assessment that he was in decline and jumped on the opportunity to use him to improve their defensive unit via trade.
Thompson is a physical, high-energy guy who can serve as a solid penalty killer. He has 11 points in 43 games for the Senators this season.
Shore is eight years younger than Thompson. The Kings management must not have envisioned him as a crucial piece going forward. Shore had 15 points in 49 games for the Kings this season.
Thompson is under contract through the 2018-2019 season for $1.65 million per year, while Shore is a restricted free agent at the end of this season after earning $925,000 this year.
The Senators will retain 25 percent of Phaneuf’s cap hit, meaning the Kings will end up paying $5.25 million per year for the next four seasons before Phaneuf’s contract expires at the end of the 2020-2021 season.
Gaborik is also under contract through the 2020-2021 season, and the Senators will pay him $4.875 million per season for the duration of that deal.
The Senators will be saving money with this trade. Gaborik is owed less than Phaneuf over the remaining years on their respective contracts. Thompson is now off the books, although it is unclear if they will re-sign Shore after this season.
The Kings take on more money. Yet they add two veterans to help the team in their battle to secure a playoff berth.
What It Means Going Forward For The Kings
It will be interesting to see if the Kings end up making another move in an effort to bolster their group of forwards before the trade deadline.
Jeff Carter is making progress in his quest to return from an ankle injury. He suffered the injury in October.
Perhaps the Kings will hold off on any major forward acquisition. In the hopes that Carter’s return could provide the same type of spark without having to relinquish any assets in the process.
Carter was the kings leading scorer last season. His return would presumably have a huge impact on this team’s fortunes.
Phaneuf brings a much-needed skill set to the Kings squad and improves the defense. Gaborik was simply failing to offer much offensive production as of late.
The Kings currently find themselves two points out of third place in the Pacific Division as well as two points behind the second wildcard spot in the Western Conference.
Their playoff hopes are still strong. This Phaneuf acquisition can help their cause in pursuit of a playoff berth. The Pacific figures to be a competitive race for those final postseason spots.