Kevin Westgarth, loved and appreciated by pretty much everyone, lost his roster spot at some point in the spring of 2012, so it’s not a surprise that Dean Lombardi moved him when he got the chance. I have to say though, I am once again surprised by the excellent return (former 25th overall pick RW Anthony Stewart and two later round picks) Lombardi got for a player I assumed was going to be lost to waivers pretty soon.
What’s interesting about this move, though, is that doesn’t address an immediate need (which would be defense, to replace Willie Mitchell’s minutes until he’s healed, whenever that is). And it doesn’t so much relieve our log-jam of big bodied forwards in the bottom-six as it upgrades the logjam. Add Stewart to the mix that includes Kyle Clifford, Dwight King and Jordan Nolan (the big bodies), and Jarret Stoll, Trevor Lewis, Colin Fraser and Brad Richardson (the skilled and/or small), and you have eight guys who ought to be able to expect decent NHL minutes. Nolan still has waiver-exemption left. None of the others do. Oh, and when Kopitar comes back (soon?), Simon Gagne will likely be dropping into the bottom-six. So that’s nine guys, at least one of whom will be dropped off the active roster when Kopitar returns, and two of which will spend a lot of time in the press box. Brad Richardson is an obvious go-to scratch, not so much because he’s worse than anyone (which we can debate) but because he’s shown the ability (like Davis Drewiske) to be able to step in on a moment’s notice and play well. But I really don’t think we’re going to see Kyle Clifford or Trevor Lewis or Dwight King spending a lot of time as a healthy scratch. That would just be a waste.
That, and the fact that Willie Mitchell’s minutes have to be replaced — at least for a few weeks and maybe longer — tells me that the Stewart move is the precursor to another trade. Will Stewart be flipped to another team? Or will one of King, Nolan or Clifford be moved?
Something’s about to happen. And I will be surprised if it doesn’t involve a defenseman who’s older than 28 and who can play top-four minutes.
Who is Lombardi targeting?