General Manager Dean Lombardi knew what he had in a very talented and experienced forward, and it was with that in mind that he sent Simon Gagne to the Philadelphia Flyers for a 4th round draft pick (or 3rd when the Flyers make the playoffs). It was apparently less that Gagne did not fit into Darryl Sutter’s system. Sutter was hired after Gagne was signed as a free agent last offseason. But the fact is Gagne had been a healthy scratch frequently of late.
Gagne is the 3rd player from the Stanley Cup Champion team to be moved since the lockout. Gagne joined Kevin Westgarth and Andrei Loktionov on that list.
In a conference call to local and national media (listen here), Dean Lombardi emphasized that any GM wouldn’t make this move unless they felt like the young guys coming up through the system were capable of replacing him. They are not Simon Gagne yet, but Kings management feel they are ready to fill at least some of that role.
As we saw with the defense already this season, a position can get depleted in a hurry. Mitchell, Greene, and Martinez are all out. Like when Dean Lombardi traded Jack Johnson a season ago, he knew Slava Voynov could come up. The GM feels confident in the young guys, and frequent healthy scratch Brad Richardson.
The additional benefit Lombardi went on to describe was the extra roster spot. In a shortened season, that flexibility is highly coveted.
In Philly with the Flyers is where Simon Gagne started his long career. When he was moved this afternoon, Dean Lombardi admitted that finding a good fit for Gagne was part of the decision process. He came to LA as a free agent. “He chose us” Lombardi said, so he wanted to find a place he could and would be happy. Gagne missed a majority of last season with a concussion, and only came back for a few games in the playoffs. He was a healthy scratch for much of this year, but the faith the Kings have in their development system is the biggest take-away from this trade.