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Brown or Gaborik: Who Will L.A. Kings Trade Next?

Due to a serious lack of cap space, Dean Lombardi might have to make a tough decision soon. Could Dustin Brown and Marian Gaborik be next to be traded from the LA Kings?

Due to a serious lack of cap space, Dean Lombardi, the general manager of the Los Angeles Kings, might have to make a tough decision soon on whether to keep or ship out some cap eating contracts that are limiting his team. Could this mean that Dustin Brown or Marian Gaborik are the next ones to be traded by the L.A. Kings?

On Wednesday, Lombardi pulled the trigger by trading prospect Jordan Weal and a third round draft pick to the Philadelphia Flyers for struggling Vincent Lecavalier and soon to be unrestricted free agent defenceman Luke Schenn. The Flyers agreed to pay 50% of their contracts.

Lecavalier’s agent, Kent Hughes, announced that his client would retire by the end of this season, therefore forgoing the remaining two years left on his contract. Lombardi admitted in a conference call to the media that Lecavalier’s retirement was “imperative” due to the Kings still needing to sign “other players” and that the Kings might be interested in re-signing Schenn by season’s end.

Brown or Gaborik: Who Will L.A. Kings Trade Next?

As per John Hoven of, the Kings are close to finalizing a deal with soon to be UFA Anze Kopitar in somewhere in the range of $9.75 million annually for eight years.  The Kings have also openly admitted to being interested in re-signing UFA’s Milan Lucic and Trevor Lewis and RFA Brayden McNabb. Even with Christian Ehrhoff possibly exiting this summer there is just not enough cap space for the Kings to keep and re-sign everyone for next year.

The biggest red flags eating at the Kings salary cap right now are the contracts of the previously mentioned Dustin Brown (four years at $5.875 million annually) and Marian Gaborik, (four years at $4.875 million annually).  With their current underachieving results and overly large contracts, they could be in danger of being in Lombardi’s crosshairs.

A King forhis entire 12 year NHL career and the captain of the team since 2008, Brown had become the raging bowling ball of destruction that opposing teams hated to play against.  In the 2012 playoffs, Brown led the 8th-seeded Kings by playing the best hockey of his life. He was instrumental in leading the Kings’ playoff charge and finished tied with Kopitar for the most points with 20. Brown made franchise history by becoming the first Los Angeles King player to ever lift the cherished Stanley Cup.

Brown continued his fine play during the lockout-shortened 2013 season by scoring 18 goals and 29 points in 46 games (prorated to 35 goals and 60 points in an 82-game season) but an injury hampered his play in the 2013 playoffs. It was after that season that Brown signed his current long-term contract and since then, he has not been the same impactful player he had been before.

Brown struggled in the 2013-14 regular season by scoring a disappointing 27 points in 79 games but he did shine in moments during those playoffs, such as scoring the game-winning second overtime goal during the second game of the Stanley Cup Final against the New York Rangers.  Brown and the Kings successfully went on to achieve another Cup victory.

With Brown struggling again last season with another 27 points but this time in 82 games, and having only 14 points (and a measly four goals) in 39 games this year, there is a strong possibility that the captain had peaked back in 2012-13 and the wear and tear of playing such a physically punishing style has finally caught up to him. Trading Brown to a team looking for some veteran leadership would open the cap right up for Lombardi to sign whomever he feels would contribute to the Kings more then Brown could at this point of his career.

The same can be said of Marian Gaborik. Traded to the Kings by the Columbus Blue Jackets during the 2014 trade deadline, Gaborik instantly clicked with Kopitar and contributed a strong 14 goals and 22 points to help the Kings regain the Cup. Gaborik then signed his current contract that summer and followed that with a decent 27 goals and 47 points in 69 games in 2014-15. Now back to his struggling ways, Gaborik has only reached eight goals and 16 points thus far and has been constantly bounced around the lines by head coach Darryl Sutter. With Gaborik at 33 years old and losing the foot speed (and ambition?) that had made him so dangerous in his prime, his contract does not justify the low results that he has been producing. Like Brown, Gaborik could be the next to be traded by the Kings. It would only benefit the Kings by opening up the cap space and filling it with a younger and hungrier player.

So who will it be? Brown or Gaborik? Both players are going to be monitored closely by Lombardi if their point production does not rise to a more satisfactory level. Whatever he does end up deciding, the contributions from captain Brown and Gaborik will forever be remembered by those Stanley Cup victories. Besides, what if Lucic decides to NOT re-sign with the Kings and heads over to Vancouver instead? Would Brown and/or Gaborik then not be moved? Anything is possible, but however this all plays out, this scenario will be very interesting to pay attention to come July 1st. Lombardi has a lot of thinking to do to see who will the be the next player traded by the L.A. Kings.

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