The Kings came away from the 2000 trading deadline with something unique to Kings’ fans- exactly what they needed. The Kings’ acquisition of Nelson Emerson and Kelly Buchberger shows that Kings’ management thinks they can make a run in the playoffs. Two years ago, the Kings were in the hunt for the fourth seed and let the deadline go by without a move of any sort. Last season the Kings were more concerned about dumping soft players than acquiring skaters who can help. On the surface the Kings basically gave up a promising defenseman in Frankie Kaberle and a player they were going to lose for two forwards who play hard, have the ability to score and provide grit on the forward lines. Both players have at least another year after this and with no forwards coming through the system right away, these guys are a nice fit to hold down the fort for a couple years. As for Audette, he had become so frustrated that he was ineffective on the ice and a distraction in the locker room. I am sure he will have alot of success with Atlanta or whoever he signs with next year, but he was not a good fit for the Kings and they needed some size and grit.
Kaberle became expendable as Jere Karalahti developed. His play continues to improve and I have noticed forwards looking for him when they go into corners, even more than usual. With some young defensemen on the horizon and Phillippe Boucher still mending, this was a perfect way to give up a quality, relatively young player (he is 25) while still keeping the nucleus. In this world where you have to give up quality to get quality, this trade is as good as the Kings could get. As for Dave Taylor, he continues to make calculated trades that give up quality players, but gives them up in areas the Kings can afford. Much like the Palffy trade, the Kings will get tremendous results, and both players they gave up will likely prosper. I will add two prediction. One, Emerson will thrive on the line with Smolinski. As Glen Murray works hard and misses alot of chances, Emerson will be able to capitalize from Murray’s hard work in the corners and Smoke’s excellent passing. Secondly, Kelly Buchberger will be a crowd favorite. Imagine Kelly and Ian Lapperriere on the same line. That trade fills the Kings weak spots and I give DT an A for making a move that was needed. By not playing his hand too soon, he was able to add for the playoff run and a little beyond.