Originally Posted by http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2006/writers/allan_muir/09/07/pacific.report.card/1.html
Los Angeles Kings
Uneasy lie the heads of Kings fans now that the shaky Dan Cloutier has been imported from Vancouver to mind L.A.'s net.
On the spot: GM Dean Lombardi
Greatest needs: A new coach, a dependable No. 1 goalie, a power play QB and about six legitimate NHLers to sprinkle throughout the lineup
Did he fill them? Lombardi made a sound decision in hiring Mark Crawford to coach this rebuilding franchise, but first off, let's give high marks to Kings CEO Tim Leiweke for hiring Lombardi, one of those guys who has the respect of just about everybody in hockey. Given enough time, he'll right this listing ship.
Of course, three months isn't enough time, and the Kings don't appear any more playoff-worthy than they did last time around. Still, given the limitations, Kings fans should appreciate most of what Lombardi accomplished, even if none of the moves were particularly sexy.
The return of the aging but still effective Rob Blake means the leather-lunged locals will need to find someone else to boo. It also means the Kings will be significantly more difficult to handle with the extra man as Blake joins the underrated Lubomir Visnovsky on the point.
Trading leading scorer Pavol Demitra for a couple of unknown entities probably didn't dazzle the average Kings supporter, but it was a step in the right direction. Patrick O'Sullivan doesn't qualify as can't-miss, but he's closer than most. He'll be a top-six fixture out of the blocks, which is as much a testament to his potential as it is to the weakness of LA's forward corps.
While this group won't have opposing goalies losing sleep, they won't be easy to play against. UFA signings Alyn McCauley, Scott Thornton and Brian Willsie bring grit and defensive smarts, and Latvian goon Raitis Ivanans could earn a spot alongside George Parros to give the Kings a pair of pugilistic options at a time when most other teams are choosing not to dance.
But unless you're Lombardi's mom, or have never seen a Canucks game, you have to wonder what he was thinking while picking up Dan Cloutier. For years, lackluster goaltending has been all that's separated Vancouver from a lengthy playoff run, so unless that's a quality the Kings were actively seeking, Cloutier is unlikely to be any more of an answer than Mathieu Garon or Jason LaBabera were last season.
Lombardi also has yet to sign two core players -- winger Dustin Brown and defenseman Tim Gleason. The RFAs are expected to sign, but with camps opening next week, any further delay could impact their effectiveness this season.
Docked points for the Cloutier signing, Lombardi earns a C+.
I didn't see this posted anywhere, but if it was I'll delete it.
Anyways looks like they weren't impressed with the cloutier signing.
Well if you believe the rumors, Cloutier was at least the 3rd option. Lombardi tried trading for Luongo and either of the Shark goalies. If that's the case, and Luongo would cost too much, and the Sharks don't really want to trade a goalie within the division, you go with Cloutier for a year, and you see what happens.
As everyone has been saying lately, the season is going to come down to Frolov, Cammalleri, Brown, O'Sullivan, and maybe Kopitar. If those guys can lead the team offensively, they could get a spot. If they're not ready, or aren't capable, it's lottery time.
The Kings aren't where the Canucks were for a handful of years. They're not predicted to challenge the top teams in the west this year. Worrying about what Cloutier was when the Canucks were contending doesn't have much to do with the 06-07 Kings. This year looks to be the year where the young guys finally get a shot at being the top options on the team. No Robitaille, Roenick, Demitra, Palffy, Allison, Deadmarsh(although we'd all certainly take him back in a second no matter who was on the team). Cloutier has plenty to prove, especially playing for a contract. If you're ever going to get the best out of Cloutier, it'll be this season. What does that mean exactly? I don't know.