In 2009, Los Angeles Kings General Manager Dean Lombardi traded still-highly-regarded prospect Patrick O’Sullivan to the Edmonton Oilers in a three-way trade that brought Justin Williams to the Kings. Williams was an injury-prone, good-but-not-great player that had won the Stanley Cup in 2006 with the Carolina Hurricanes who in many ways needed a change of scenery. As you can tell, coming to Los Angeles has been amazingly beneficial to both Williams and the Kings.
The Kings have made the playoffs in all five of the full seasons Williams has been with the team and won two Stanley Cups in that span. In this year’s playoffs, Williams’ contributions were crucial to the Kings’ success and those contributions were recognized by the NHL as he was awarded the Conn Smythe for postseason MVP.
Williams not only recorded a goal in Game 5 but he also led the Stanley Cup Final in scoring with 7 points in five games. Prior to the Final, Williams padded his already-stellar Game 7 statistics with five points in the Kings’ three Game 7 wins. All told, Williams recorded 24 timely points in the Kings’ 25 playoff games, providing a much-needed dose of scoring punch for the Kings.
While Williams is far from the biggest or flashiest name on the Kings’ roster, he came through when it mattered most as he seemingly always has. That ability to come up clutch is what earned him the Conn Smythe. While the Kings had a handful of players that could have easily been awarded the trophy (Anze Kopitar and Drew Doughty, especially), none brought the mix of timeliness and productivity that Williams did from the start of the playoffs until the Stanley Cup was presented.
Lombardi has been praised for bringing “big names” such as Mike Richards, Jeff Carter and Marian Gaborik to Los Angeles. However, the trades that garnered all the critical attention are not the only ones that built the Kings into winners. After all, the Kings wouldn’t have won either of their Stanley Cups if Lombardi hadn’t pulled the trigger on that deal for Williams over five years ago.