4. Dustin Brown
Cap hit of $3.175 million
Six-year deal, expires after 2013-14 season
With how well Brown has played down the stretch and in the postseason, one has to wonder if more teams will start leaking trade rumors in order to spark a player? The Kings were very likely never serious about moving Brown, but his name was bandied about in multiple trade rumors leading up to the 2012 deadline. The Kings wanted to get their struggling Captain motivated, and did it ever work.
Bob McKenzie was the first to break the Brown trade availability.
“Brown’s potential availability is ‘bigger’ deal than Rick Nash in sense of how many more top teams involved.”
Brown finished the regular season with 27 points in 32 post-All Star break games, after recording the same total in 50 games before the All-Star break. He is currently the Conn Smythe favorite if the Kings win the Stanley Cup, and for good reason. He has been the difference in each round. Against the Canucks, he set the tone physically and with several key shorthanded goals. Against the Blues, he did the same. In the Phoenix series, he got under the skin of every Coyote player, and again dominated with his work ethic, skill, and thundering body checks.
From a Kings blogger only a few months ago:
“Dustin Brown is average, at best, defensively. He can hit. He is not mean. He is not edgy. He is smash mouth in his hitting only. He cannot fight. He is good for 15-25 goals per season and is wildly inconsistent from week to week. His hockey IQ is questionable. Is he the L.A. Kings’ intended identity? I don’t believe so. I don’t believe Dustin Brown represents what Dean Lombardi wants this team to become. That is not to say Lombardi is right but don’t think for a second Mike Richards’ arrival here was a happy accident. Richards is exactly what Dean wants. The player who is to the Kings what the Leonidas character was to the Spartans in the movie 300.”
Dustin Penner on Brown’s leadership:
“Every leader on every team says the right thing,” Dustin Penner said. “On our team the leaders do it.”
How a few months of hockey can change things.[...]
2. Jonathan Quick
Cap hit of $1.8 million
Three-year deal, expires after 2012-13 season
Antti Niemi, Steve Mason, Nikolai Khabibulin, and Rick DiPietro are all paid more than Jonathan Quick. James Reimer has a matching $1.8 million cap hit. The Kings extended Quick’s contract for three years at the beginning of the 2009-10 season. Hestarted in 72 games that season, and six more in the first round against Vancouver. His level of play tailed off as the season wore on, showing signs of fatigue. In his final 16 regular season games, Quick allowed 3+ goals in 12 games. In the first round against the Canucks, he allowed 3+ goals in all but one of the six games, including five goals-against in consecutive games.
In the two years since, Quick has cemented himself as one of the game’s best goaltenders, and arguably the most athletic and flexible. His style is best described by Sports Illustrated’s Michael Farber:
“Quick gets low in his crease — exceptionally low, like a man who feels the need to stoop in order to talk to a four-year-old at eye level. His angles are calculated, Euclidian. From his crouch he can see around screens and deflect close-in rebound attempts while obscuring much of the net from shooters. Quick is laterally adroit in the crease, scuttling as much as gliding from post to post. While Brodeur is almost erect in his crease, Quick resembles a crab.”
Many around the league were waiting for super rookie Jonathan Bernier to come in and steal Quick’s starting gig, but Quick’s elite play killed any potential goaltending controversy. The Kings will be happy to open the vault for him with his next contract.