The Justin Williams trade is, sort of, the reason I started blogging. In the wake of the Williams/O’Sullivan deadline deal — and the ensuing fire-storm in the Inside the Kings comments section, I really wanted a poll on whether commenter celebre Anthony [who?] was right about the Williams trade (hint: he wasn’t). The result was the blog Kings Kool Aid and my first post.
It’s hard to think of a Kings-related story that has generated as much debate in recent years as this O’Sullivan-Williams trade. I’ve read a lot of the comments — although it’s tough, because there were more than 700 yesterday…wow — and there have been a lot of great points made on both sides.
I actually went to the Inside the Kings archives in search of the comments, but they’ve purged the comments from the archive. Hey, Daily News, you are aware, aren’t you, that about half of the Kings hive mind was born in the ItK comments section.
To be honest, when I first heard about the trade, I ridiculed it. There are still parts of it that don’t make a lot of sense to me. None of them have anything to do with Justin Williams as a player. He’s a two-time 30-goal scorer and a Stanley Cup winner, a guy who theoretically could be entering his prime. He’s a bigger winger who plays the type of game Lombardi and Murray want.
Yes, but see the delightful Helene Elliott column from the same week in which she cattily pegs Williams at somewhere around Moller size. (Never mind, couldn’t find it. But the article I did find is at the bottom of this post.)
Patrick O’Sullivan, for all of his undeniable talents, never really fit here. For that, you can blame Lombardi, Murray or O’Sullivan, or all three of them.
So then, why is there debate about this trade? [...] For all of Williams’ talent, he can’t stay on the ice. In the past 12 months, he has had hand, back, knee and Achilles tendon injuries. All in one year. It’s accurate to say that they were largely “fluke” injuries. [...] But it’s hard to escape the feeling that some guys are just injury-prone [...].
Beyond that, it’s hard to shake the feeling that by trading O’Sullivan and a second-round pick now, the Kings might have left something on the table. Williams might be a strong pick-up, but [...] by trading O’Sullivan, they just cashed in on one of their most valuable assets.
Hindsight is 20/20, right? I’m not even singling out Rich, because his assessment of Williams was — even seen from 2013 — pretty accurate. Clutch player, hope he gets healthy. Well, I guess he did.
However, Rich’s comment made me time travel back to the Kings’ prospect pool in March 2009. At that point, although O’Sullivan was certainly one of the most “NHL ready” prospects, the prospect pool also included Teddy Purcell, Matt Moulson, Brian Boyle, Wayne Simmonds, Oscar Moller, Alec Martinez, Dwight King, Slava Voynov, Andrei Loktionov, Thomas Hickey, Scott Parse, Trevor Lewis, Jonathan Bernier and Jonathan Quick. Holy ****, that’s a gold mine of prospects.
Might they have been better served by packaging O’Sullivan with a top prospect and a top pick, in order to land a really big fish? Maybe, or maybe I’m really underestimating what Williams will bring to the team when healthy. And perhaps the Kings will be able to fill that bigger void via free agency, or by trading with a team that is desparate to dump salary this summer.
Who would have thought that team would be the Philadelphia Flyers, who were still 15 months away from a trip to the Stanley Cup Finals.
Now, the Helene Elliott piece from March 5. I thought I had done a post in response to her, but it turns out I didn’t even have a blog until 10 days later.
The Kings’ lone deal brought them right wing Justin Williams, on injured reserve because of a broken finger. To acquire him from Carolina, they gave up 24-year-old Patrick O’Sullivan, who scored 22 goals on a terrible team last season and has produced at every level, and a second-round draft pick.[...]
The Kings’ trade said fans who have endured four decades without a Cup title will have to wait again. Wait two weeks to see Williams, twice a 30-goal scorer but a victim of knee, Achilles’ tendon and hand injuries the last two seasons. Wait until next season for the team’s first playoff berth since 2002. Wait for a day that never seems in sight.[...] Lombardi, a scout for the Flyers when Williams began his career there, said he made the Kings better by adding a player who won a Cup with Carolina in 2006 but is young enough at 27 to blend into a young team.