The defending Stanley Cup Champion, LA Kings are winless on the season after dropping a tough 2-1 overtime decision to the Edmonton Oilers on Thursday night. To make matters worse their blue line is running thin after Matt Greene was placed on the injured list and is out for an extended period of time.
Willey Mitchell, another top blue liner for the Kings remains out of action, putting the team down two key defenseman in a shortened season. While it’s not time to panic just yet, the Kings need to start winning in order to make the playoffs and have a chance to repeat as champions.
Which could push GM Dean Lombardi to make a trade for a top rated defenseman and according to Pierre LeBrun of ESPN.com, goaltender Jonathan Bernier could be the perfect trade bait.
This much we know; there are ample teams who either are or will be looking for an upgrade in goal. At the front of that list has to be the Toronto Maple Leafs after Thursday’s sloppy performance by Ben Scrivens. But LeBrun says the Leafs are still interested in Roberto Luongo who can part ways with a second line center to acquire him, just not Nazem Kadri.
Highly sought after defenseman are hard to come by and will come at a premium this season as many clubs will be looking to upgrade their blue line. The Calgary Flames are said to be planning on moving Jay Bouwmeester, but Bernier is more of a starting goalie than a backup. With Miikka Kiprusoff set to play well over 40 games this season, the need for a Bernier type goalie may not match Jay Feaster’s plans.
The Buffalo Sabres are another club that have a decent stock of defenseman, namely Robyn Regher and Jordan Leopold. Here again the Sabres aren’t necessarily in need of Bernier’s services with Ryan Miller aboard.
LeBrun points out that the Leafs are one of the few teams that boast 9 NHL ready defensman on their roster, so a deal with the Kings appears to be a natural fit. But as long as Roberto Luongo is in Vancouver, the Leafs appear to be blinded by the light even though they’ve called their California friends to check in on Bernier.
In short, LeBrun says moving Bernier for a top-four d-man is going to prove difficult for Lombardi, especially when Luongo is stealing all the attention. It’s easy to agree with LeBrun on this one given the reasons just discussed but should teams that are expected to compete continue to struggle, Lombardi might just get his asking price for Bernier; it might just take a little longer than planned.