LA Kings vs. Dallas Stars
7:30 PST, Fox Sports West
Point: Patrick O'Sullivan had regressed this season. I don't think anyone will argue that point. Despite the fact that O'Sullivan had played mostly with Anze Kopitar and Jarret Stoll this season, he still couldn't outscore himself from last year when he played with Michal Handzus. I don't know what is was, maybe he didn't like playing for Terry Murray as much as he liked playing under Marc Crawford, maybe the time off at the beginning of the season was bad for him, or maybe he just got unlucky. He wasn't as dynamic offensively, wasn't as efficient defensively, and looked somewhat disinterested all year. Whatever the reason, he was not the player we expected him to be. Oddly enough, I think the player we were all expecting Patrick O'Sullivan to turn into was Justin Williams from 2 years ago.
Two years ago, Justin Williams was one of the better players on the planet. He helped lead the Carolina Hurricanes to the Stanley Cup on the strength of his 76 points (33 goals) in the regular season and 18 points in the playoffs. The season after that he increased his goal total but saw a slight dip in his overall point total. The season after that, he tore his ACL and missed most of the season. This season, he battled back from an Achilles tendon injury only to immediately break his hand. When healthy, Justin Williams gives us another Alex Frolov with a slightly different skill set. That "when healthy," though, is a caveat big enough to to drive through.
Ultimately, I'm a little disappointed by the trade. It's not that I loved Patrick O'Sullivan (I liked him, but I wasn't in like with him) or that I think Justin Williams is a terrible player, it's just that I don't see why the Kings would throw in a 2nd for an oft-injured player; of course, when you look at Dean Lombardi's love of injured players* it becomes rather obvious. I think Lombardi believes there is a market inefficiency in hockey and that market is injured players. Williams did eff his Achilles Tendon but his hand injury probably gave him a little time to heal that wound and get ready for next season. I think Patrick O'Sullivan will go on to make a good NHL player, Justin Williams will regain his form and help the Kings next year, and the 2nd might or might not come back to harm the Kings. There's too many "if's" to learn much more than that.
*Alyn McCauley, Michal Handzus, Jarret Stoll, Matt Greene, Dan Cloutier, etc.
Justin Williams' injury history:
Feb 16, 2009: Broken hand, sidelined indefinitely.
Dec 4, 2008: Missed 25 games (achilles tendon).
Sep 17, 2008: Achilles tendon, sidelined indefinitely.
Apr 5, 2008: Missed the last 2 games of the regular season (back injury).
Apr 2, 2008: Back injury, day-to-day.
Apr 1, 2008: Missed 43 games (torn ACL).
Dec 21, 2007: Torn ACL, remainder of the regular season.
Oct 4, 2005: Shoulder injury, day-to-day.
Mar 27, 2004: Missed 1 game (bruised ankle).
Mar 25, 2004: Bruised ankle, day-to-day.
Feb 21, 2004: Missed 3 games (broken left wrist).
Feb 13, 2004: Broken left wrist, sidelined indefinitely.
Apr 6, 2003: Missed 36 games (sprained left knee).
Apr 4, 2003: Sprained left knee, day-to-day.
Jan 20, 2003: Sprained left knee, remainder of the regular season.
Jan 18, 2003: Sprained left knee, left Saturday's game.
Nov 27, 2002: Missed 5 games (strained left shoulder).
Nov 15, 2002: Strained left shoulder, early December.
Dec 16, 2001: Missed 3 games (sprained right shoulder).
Dec 10, 2001: Sprained right shoulder, day-to-day.
Mar 19, 2001: Missed 12 games (broken finger).
Feb 22, 2001: Broken finger, late March.
Congratulations to Sean O'Donnell and Erik Ersberg for signing contract extensions of one year and two years, respectively. O'Donnell is awesome and kind of reminds me of a really nice Ron Perlman, while Erik Ersberg looks like an elf and tends a pretty good net to boot. I was expecting the O'Donnell re-signing because he's worked out so well and he should slot in nicely into that spot currently occupied by Denis Gauthier (5th defenseman, penalty kill specialist) nicely next season. The Ersberg signing, on the other hand, was a pretty big shock, especially for so cheap. I mean, $750K a year for a 27 year-old backstop that has averaged a .913 SV% over his career? Maybe he thought they meant 750 Euros or something. I like the Ersberg signing because it provides a performance floor for our younger goaltender, Quick and Bernier. The line is now at .910 SV%; dip below that and Ersberg is taking your spot. At the very least it provides competition, and from my experience goaltenders are the most competitive people on the planet so I think it'll work out well.
Wouldn't it suck to play for a team called the Stars? It sounds like a WNBA or Arena League team.
Prediction: 4-3, Kings. Goals by a heartbroken Kopitar, Stoll, Johnson and Harrold