NOTE: I've been meaning to write this post for weeks. Finally, I get some time to do it because the Blues/Wings game was on Versus and I've got DirecTV. And of course, Kariya has himself his best game of the year. Anyways....
Paul Kariya to the Kings makes sense on so many different levels.
First off, he's my favorite player and the reason I love hockey. It's hard to believe he's 35 years old now. For years, I've been attending Kings games wearing a Kariya Ducks, Avs, Preds, and now Blues jersey every time his team's in town. I've yet to put a name and number on the back of my Kings jersey because I've been waiting for this moment, this opportunity. (queue Eminem's verse now).
"WHY DO THE KINGS NEED HIM?"
Justin Williams's season is in doubt. The Kings are looking for a left wing. Dean Lombardi came close to acquiring Ray Whitney. It's been rumored that Whitney was looking for a three-year extension to waive his no-trade clause. Bob McKenzie speculated that Whitney wants to stay in the East. Fair enough. Don't want him if he doesn't want to be here. If Kariya were lined up next to Eric Staal (no offense to David Backes), he would be piling up the points as well.
"26 POINTS?!?! HE SUCKS! WHY ARE HIS NUMBERS DOWN?"
Age. Injuries. The contract. The team. The coach. Kariya is 35 years old. Injuries have taken a good chunk of Kariya's career away. With that said, I think the weight of the franchise was put on his shoulders. He was given a rich $18-million deal to turn things around in St. Louis. The Blues brought him in and didn't do much else to improve the team. Their roster went young. Really young with Johnson, Oshie, Perron and Berglund all making their NHL debuts. And unfortunately, these rookies were forced to learn the NHL game on the fly. Coach Andy Murray did his best to help (or was it destroy?) Kariya's game. Even removing him from the power play and sticking him in a third-line checking role. Needless to say, Murray was fired.
"OK. FINE. BUT WHAT CAN HE DO FOR THE KINGS?"
Kariya isn't the same player he was in Anaheim. He's not a prolific goal scorer anymore but his hockey sense and quickness still make him a premiere playmaker. His quickness allows him to go in hard on the forecheck and create turnovers behind the net that often lead to scoring chances for linemates.
His speed is still his best asset. He still loves streaking down the left wing. Unfortunately, there's no Teemu Selanne streaking with him so he's forced to take that shot above the faceoff circles.
Kariya can still quarterback a powerplay. He can set up the one-timer and get shots thru traffic. People like to argue that he's become a perimeter player but I disagree. Especially on the powerplay, he shows a willingness to go to the front of the net to make a play and score the dirty goals.
Putting Kariya alongside Kopitar and Simmonds would allow Terry Murray to keep the Smyth/Stoll/Brown line together. The hockey sense of a Kariya/Kopi/Simmer line is through the roof. Their speed and ability to make plays on the rush and behind the net in the offensive zone would be awesome to watch.
"YOU SOLD ME! WE NEED HIM NOW! WHAT'S IT GOING TO COST?!"
Kariya is an unrestricted free-agent at the end of the season. He's making $6-million this season; he's due about $1-million following the March 3rd trade deadline. The Blues are sellers, whether they believe it yet or not. They'll be looking to acquire prospects and picks for their UFA's.
I think the Kings could swing a deal to acquire Kariya and add depth defenseman Carlo Colaiacavo.
Hurricanes blueliner Tim Gleason's name has been linked to the Kings a couple times on some rumor sites. I would love to have Gleason back. He's Matt Greene with a touch more offense. But Gleason is signed to an affordable contract and he's only 27. I can't see the Canes trading him unless a team overpays.
So who's this Colaiacavo guy? The once highly-touted Leafs prospect finally stayed healthy long enough to get an opportunity in St. Louis. He's an offensive defenseman with a booming shot. He's injury-prone and shaky in his own end. But I think he's worth the risk considering how badly the Kings need another puck-moving defenseman right now.
If I'm Dean Lombardi, I offer the Blues Teddy Purcell, 2nd Round, 3rd Round and 4th Round Picks. If the picks aren't doing it; I'm throwing out names like Elkins, Azevedo, Lewis and Martinez.
Tedward is not cracking the Kings top-6 and that's where he needs to be to succeed. Maybe the Oilers or Islanders will take him; they seem to love those 'tweener' type players. Too good offensively for the AHL but not quite good enough for the NHL. It's hard to tell whether he's the next Matt Moulson or Jeff Tambellini.