Not that anyone was faulting the Kings for the deal. Kings GM Dean Lombardi was equally admired by some of his peers Thursday for going for it while the defending champs still have a chance to win another championship.
But there was surprise in my conversations with several team executives around the league that Francis was able to net a first-round pick, which will likely be in this year’s deep draft as long as L.A. makes the playoffs.
"Huge return," said one Western Conference GM.
For a rookie GM like Francis at his first trade deadline, the return on the Sekera deal was tremendous.
"The deal fell the right way, but at the end of the day, the Kings got a hell of a player," Francis told ESPN.com Thursday. "He’s going to be good there."
Francis had talks with several teams, but obviously when the Kings pushed up with a first-round pick, that was huge.
"We talked to a lot of teams, but when we got to that point, I thought it was the best offer out there and a fair offer," Francis said. "Dean was great to work with throughout the process, really up front and honest. It was good."
Francis would not confirm whether any other team was willing to spend a first-round pick.
What he would confirm is that he has no interest in trading Jordan Staal after rumors flew out of Pittsburgh last weekend.
"There was no truth to any of that stuff," said Francis.
Francis sees the team's rebuild being around the Staal brothers -- Eric and Jordan -- as those two players are important to the fabric of a team that’s getting younger.
"I remember reading an article with Ken Holland a while ago, and he talked about the importance of good veteran guys, good leaders. We’ve got some good young pieces, but you can’t just throw them to the wolves. You have to have support around them," said Francis in underlining the value of keeping both Staal brothers.
"Listen, Wayne Gretzky got traded, so there’s always a chance that anybody gets traded. But for me, these are good pieces for our team; you see them out there, they’re 6-foot-4, heavy, they can play with the puck down low and they’re hard to defend. Teams are looking for those kinds of players and we have them. I’d much rather keep them than move them.’’