Kings' biggest free agent flop?
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11-26-2012, 09:50 AM
Join Date: Mar 2002
Location: Manitoba, Canada
Originally Posted by
I think the biggest flop as far as screwing up the on-ice play is Jason LaBarbera. Now his stellar year in Manchester meant he had talent, but if I remember right the Kings had him signed to a one-way contract. By signing him to this one-way contract he would have to clear waivers to be brought up from Manchester. Thus, in 2006-07 we suffered the revolving door at goaltending which saw Barry Brust and Yutaka Fukufuji in net at one point because LaBarbera was stuck in Manchester. This was by far the worst deal as far as screwing up the on-ice product that I remember. Even Cloutier didn't cause this problem, as this almost resulted in the Kings having to sign a goalie from the ECHL to tend net one night.
If I remember right at some point along the way Brust and Fukufuji were the goalies for the Kings as both Cloutier and Garon were injured. I can't remember which one went down during the game, but it appeared that either Brust or Fukufuji were injured. Seems to me they were still against attempting to bring up LaBarbera and if the injury was minor enough but still unable to allow him to play they were going to sign one of Bakersfield's goalies. As the Kings were out of goalies in their system. Why did this happen? They signed Jason LaBarbera to a one-way deal as a free agent.
Of course, some might argue that had the Kings never brought in Dan Cloutier, LaBarbera would have been in LA and likely there would not have been Brust or Fukufuji in net. Even if LaBarbera had been in LA, assuming he was hurt, the Kings would still have to bring in Brust or Fukufuji. If anything, Cloutier as bad as he was, delayed having to see Brust or Fukufuji. Plus, it could have sped up seeing a Bakersfield Condor in uniform in Bako one night and in LA the next.
I agree with you. That said, I think if you look at it from the viewpoint of when the signing was made, it made much more sense.
With Crawford as coach, he's clearly the driving force behind Deano getting Cloutier, so you know as long as Crawford is around, Cloutier is likely to be in the net as well, meaning there's only the backup spot left. I think LA viewed Labs as the long-term back-up/co-number one with Cloutier and simply thought of Garon as a stop gap. I think the goal was to give Labs as many starts as they could in the minors for a year while they burnt off the last year for Garon. Sort of like grooming a young prospect, just that Labs wasn't that young. I think the lone way to convince Labs to stay in the minors was to do the one-way deal.
I doubt anyone could see Cloutier being THAT bad, and both Cloutier and Garon being hurt as much as they were. IIRC, both Cloutier and Garon suffered long-term injuries that year. Pretty rare for both of your regular goalies to be out for long periods of time.
So essentially I'm saying I agree with you that it didn't work out, but I think it was more to do with the injuries to Garon and Cloutier than the Labs contract. LA clearly were high on him and the lone way to keep him in the fold was to do the one-way deal. Where Deano really screwed up I think was not simply dealing Garon away and just keeping Labs up with the club.
Originally Posted by
On the flip side, I think some of LA's best free agent signings have mainly been defensemen:
Their two best forward signings (not including those who came straight out of college):
Have to mention Trent Klatt and Derek Armstrong as pleasant surprises who paid off more than what most fans anticipated. Luc Robitaille's 3rd stint in LA also worked out well in terms of production.
I have to say that I think Army was by far the best bang for the buck pick up the Kings have made in a LONG time. He wasn't great, but he did a lot more than I ever expected from a career minor leaguer up until that point.
That said, we actually got his rights in a trade, not as a UFA signing:
"7/16/2002- New York Rangers traded Derek Armstrong to the Los Angeles Kings for a 6th round selection (Chris Holt) in 2003."
I actually remember the trade, cause I wondered why we traded anything for a then 29-year-old career minor leaguer from europe. I now know why.
I think our best signing of the past 10 years is Mitchell. If he could add about 15 points to his output this year he'd have been a Norris finalist I think.
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