Bernier saves 40 as Kings drop Coyotes

March, 19, 2013

LOS ANGELES -- Jonathan Bernier made a career-high 40 saves, defenseman Drew Doughty ended a 32-game, regular-season goal drought, and the Los Angeles Kings beat the Phoenix Coyotes 3-2 on Tuesday night.

To read the full story, click this link.

Hats off, GM Murray, for locking up Perry

March, 19, 2013

And just like that, the biggest name that could have been moved before the April 3 deadline has been scratched off the trade market list.

Corey Perry is staying put in Anaheim thanks to a $69 million, eight-year contract extension announced during Monday night’s Sharks-Ducks game.

Score one for the underdog, GM Bob Murray.

Most team executives and agents around the NHL didn’t think he could sign both his potential unrestricted free agent stars, Perry and Ryan Getzlaf. Maybe one, many said, but likely not both.

Of course, it cost the Ducks a healthy sum to pull it off. As in $8.625 million on average per season for Perry, and earlier this month, Getzlaf got reeled in for $8.25 million a year, also over eight years. That’s $135 million for two players from 2013-14 through 2020-21.

Here’s the crazy part: Perry likely would have gotten more on the open market, as in at least $9 million a year, if he truly was exposed to all 30 teams in the league come July 5.

The Toronto Maple Leafs would have been all over the 2011 Hart Trophy winner, with the likes of Detroit and Philadelphia probably not far behind.

Two months ago, I would have told you there was little chance Perry would sign before the trade deadline. That was the feeling most people around the league had, as well. But there's no question Anaheim’s surprising season, which has seen the Ducks challenge for first overall, had a profound impact on Perry and his decision to skip free agency.

Last summer, Perry was also presented with a massive offer from the Ducks, but sources say he didn’t want to commit yet. After a couple of disappointing seasons for the Ducks, it was certainly within Perry’s rights to be a little patient before deciding whether Anaheim remained committed to winning.

Smart offseason additions by Murray -- Sheldon Souray, Daniel Winnik and Bryan Allen, plus the emergence of Swedish goalie Viktor Fasth -- helped the Ducks fill some holes.

Getzlaf’s re-emergence as one of the NHL’s premier No. 1 centers is certainly no small factor, either. The Ducks' captain signed his extension March 8, putting all the spotlight and pressure squarely on his linemate, Perry.

And you knew Murray and the Ducks' front office would take one last run at Perry contractwise before deciding whether to put him on the trade market.

Make no mistake: Murray would have looked at what Perry’s value would have been on the trade market if he hadn't signed. It doesn’t mean Murray would have dealt the star, but he would have inquired.

After losing Justin Schultz for nothing last summer to free agency, the Ducks were not too thrilled at the thought of losing another major asset and getting nothing in return come July. You can’t keep losing key assets that create gaping holes in your organization.

Murray, in fact, had chatted with Nashville GM David Poile about his experience with the Ryan Suter saga a year ago, which ended with the Predators ultimately deciding to keep the star blueliner and pending UFA because they held out hope they could still sign him after the season. You can imagine what Poile would have had to say to Murray in retrospect.

Perry understood everything at play. He decided if the deal was right, he’d stay on.

Perry met with his agents, Mark Guy and Pat Morris of Newport Sports, on Wednesday in Dallas, had a long heart-to-heart and went over all his options. Perry went home to discuss it one final time with his family and phoned his agents Friday to tell them he had decided that if they could negotiate a deal, he'd stay on. That led to long negotiations all weekend between Newport and the Ducks.

Against the popular betting, the Ducks got it done.

Perry and Getzlaf, both signed, sealed and delivered.

The Ducks now have about $53 million committed to 16 players for next season. They’re about $11 million under the $64.3 million salary cap for '13-14 as they look to fill out next season's roster. Perry's deal, as part of the new CBA, has a no-movement clause that kicked in upon the signing of the extension.

People immediately hit Twitter after the Perry signing and suggested that Bobby Ryan was a goner this summer. But I do not believe that the Ducks feel they have to move Ryan's deal (two more years at $5.1 million per). The Ducks have expiring contracts on their roster and Ryan's deal easily fits into their plans. That's not to say if they get an offer they can't refuse they wouldn't listen, but a source close to the situation told Tuesday that the Ducks aren't going into the offseason with the idea of moving Ryan.

You also have to see what happens with veteran Finnish wingers Saku Koivu and Teemu Selanne, both UFAs after the season, And, certainly in the case of the Finnish Flash, perhaps this is finally it. He won’t decide that until the summer.

For now, it’s all about a run at the Stanley Cup for the Anaheim Ducks, who have removed the gigantic distractions of the Getzlaf/Perry contract situations with two-plus weeks to spare before the trade deadline.

What a story indeed.

Need to know: Look out, here come the Ducks

March, 19, 2013

Move over, Chicago. It’s Anaheim’s time to shine.

Had it not been for the Blackhawks' sensational streak to start the season, the Ducks would’ve been the ones commanding all the attention as the league’s hottest (and frankly, most surprising) team out West.

Now they are finally getting their chance to hog the spotlight.

As’s Pierre LeBrun pointed out, it was a massive coup for the organization and Ducks general manager Bob Murray to lock up both Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry to eight-year extensions, and the strength of their play this season was a big reason.

On the same night that the Ducks announced the eight-year, $69 million extension for Perry on the in-game scoreboard, the Ducks racked up their franchise-record 12th straight home win, topping the Sharks 5-3 in a well-rounded effort.

With Getzlaf, Perry, Teemu Selanne and Bobby Ryan, the Ducks have been a team that has boasted top talent in recent years, but it’s the contributions they’ve received up and down their lineup that have been the difference this season.

A glance at last night’s scoresheet is a prime example.

Defenseman Francois Beauchemin tallied twice for the Ducks, while Southern California product Emerson Etem scored his first NHL goal and both Peter Holland and Getzlaf (short-handed) chipped in with second-period markers of their own as the Ducks improved to 21-3-4.

Andrew Cogliano and Daniel Winnik, two pleasant surprises in providing secondary scoring for the Ducks, also found their way onto the scoresheet with one and two assists, respectively.

And let’s not forget goaltender Viktor Fasth, whose scorching start to the season continued as he collected his 11th win, turning away 32 of 35 shots.

Nabbing 17 of 20 points in the past 10 games (7-0-3), Bruce Boudreau’s Ducks are now nipping at Chicago’s heels with 46 points, only five points behind the Western Conference leaders.

Is it not impossible to suggest that Anaheim could close the gap and pass the front-runners before the regular season draws to a close?

Not only are the Blackhawks without Patrick Sharp, but the Ducks have the benefit of now playing eight of their next 12 games at home, including the next four straight.

And guess who is next up to make a trip to the Honda Center?

You guessed it, Chicago.

The Blackhawks enter Wednesday’s match on a three-game winning streak after Monday’s 5-2 win in Colorado, looking to create some separation at the top of the heap.

With these two teams battling for bragging rights in the West, it promises to be nothing short of one of the marquee matchups of the season.

Toffoli nets first career goal in Kings rout

March, 18, 2013

LOS ANGELES -- Jonathan Quick earned his first shutout of the season with 27 saves, Tyler Toffoli scored his first NHL goal on a power play in only his second game with Los Angeles and the Kings beat the Phoenix Coyotes 4-0 on Monday night.

To read the full story, click this link.

Kings rally but can't catch Sharks late

March, 14, 2013

SAN JOSE, Calif. -- Matt Irwin and Logan Couture made Los Angeles pay for retaliating by scoring power-play goals after Jake Muzzin started a fight to help the San Jose Sharks snap a four-game losing streak with a 4-3 victory over the Kings on Thursday night.

For the full story, click this link.

Kings can't come back after digging deep hole

March, 12, 2013

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Mikkel Boedker scored twice and the Phoenix Coyotes took a four-goal lead and went on to beat the Los Angeles Kings 5-2 on Tuesday night. Shane Doan and Raffi Torres had a goal and assist apiece for the Coyotes, who led 4-0 before Mike Richards and Dustin Brown scored power-play goals for the Kings.

For the full story, click this link.

Brown, Kings complete sweep of Flames

March, 11, 2013

LOS ANGELES -- Captain Dustin Brown scored two goals, Jonathan Quick made 23 saves and the surging Los Angeles Kings beat the Calgary Flames 3-1 on Monday night for their second win over the Flames in three days.

To read the full story, click this link.

Kings recall prospect Toffoli from Manchester

March, 10, 2013
The Los Angeles Kings have recalled center Tyler Toffoli from the Manchester Monarchs of the American Hockey League, Kings President and General Manager Dean Lombardi announced Sunday in a news release.

To read the full story, click this link.

Carter's latest goal helps Kings rout Flames

March, 9, 2013

LOS ANGELES -- Jeff Carter opened the scoring with his 13th goal in 13 games, Justin Williams had a goal and two assists, and the Los Angeles Kings beat Calgary 6-2 on Saturday night in their first of back-to-back home games against the Flames.

For the full story, click this link.

Kings' home win streak ends in loss to Stars

March, 7, 2013

LOS ANGELES -- Jaromir Jagr had his first multi-goal game since opening night, Brenden Morrow got the go-ahead goal in the third period, and the Dallas Stars ended the Los Angeles Kings' six-game home winning streak with a 5-2 victory on Thursday night.

For the full story, click this link.

Rumblings: Where Iginla, Alfredsson could land

March, 7, 2013
The big day is exactly four weeks away from Wednesday and we still await the headline-grabbing trades.

Will they even come?

I wrote Tuesday about the closeness in the standings and the short season and whether that will prevent some trades from happening.

At the very least, teams at this stage are laying the groundwork for deals that would possibly happen later in the month.

"You’re talking to teams, obviously, and you say, 'If you have interest in moving Pierre LeBrun, let us know.' That’s the stage it’s at now. That’s what I’ve found anyway," Pittsburgh Penguins GM Ray Shero told on Tuesday.

I told Shero he could get Pierre LeBrun for a bag of pucks and he suggested at least future considerations.

In all seriousness, Shero said the trade market wasn’t quite yet defined at least for the bigger names.

"You saw some trades earlier like [Keaton] Ellerby and [Ben] Lovejoy and this week Mike Brown, depth defensemen and role guys are getting moved," Shero said.

But no big names yet. That takes more time, more phone calls, more games played.

"Everyone has played from 20 to 24 games so far; you've got to adjust your thinking to making a quicker assessment," Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli told "We’re used to making our assessments over a longer period of time. And this year it’s different. Therefore, for me it’s a little funky right now to know we’re that close to making deals."

What also gums up the works is that the list of UFAs-to-be, aka rental players, might shorten as the month rolls on as teams re-sign those players and take them off the trade market.

"What’s happened the last five or six years is teams realizing that even if they’re a seller, they realize it’s not like the old days where you trade [a UFA to be] for a draft pick and easily replace them [in the offseason]," Kings GM Dean Lombardi told "Even midrange players, many teams are now deciding to keep them and try to sign them versus giving them away for a second- or third-round pick. That’s something that’s changed in this business since I got in it; very different. Some teams are looking at that No. 4 or No. 5 defenseman and saying, 'I’m not replacing him this summer, I need to keep him and sign him.'"

The other thing, Lombardi figures, is that in today’s parity-filled NHL, teams always feel just a few players away from getting back into it the following season. It’s not like the pre-cap days when many non-playoff teams went into full dress-down/rebuild mode.

"Not many teams are in that stripping-down mode anymore," Lombardi said.

Hmm, food for thought.

Now let’s take a look at more teams and the upcoming trade deadline:

The powerhouse Bruins can add a big name or two thanks to the deft salary-cap maneuvering by GM Peter Chiarelli.

Some B’s fans are salivating at the possibilities that are out there.

But the GM wants everyone to know it’s not written in stone he’ll hit the home run.

"Just because we have cap space doesn’t mean we’ll make a blockbuster trade," Chiarelli said Tuesday.

But yes, he’s done his homework and will continue to monitor the market to see what could be a good fit.

As reported a few weeks ago, I believe Chiarelli would covet being reunited with Daniel Alfredsson from his Ottawa days but that’s a situation that remains to be played out with the Senators in terms of whether they hang in the playoff race -- which means Alfredsson would never move -- or even if they fall out of it, whether the Sens captain would even want to go anywhere.

My take? I think there’s only one team Alfredsson would consider if he ever goes -- and that’s Boston with the tie-in to former Senators teammate Zdeno Chara and the chance to win a Cup.

But we’re getting ahead of ourselves.

Jarome Iginla is another possibility for Boston. I didn’t think so about a month ago but I think with the market not bearing out that many names this season, the B’s have to at least inquire if he comes available in Calgary.

Corey Perry would be the biggest name of them all and the B’s would at least see what’s going on there, but again it’s not clear yet what Anaheim will do there with the pending UFA.

The Stanley Cup champion Kings have certainly bounced back from an early-season hangover.

And they’ve done it while surviving injuries to three of their six defensemen who won them the Cup last spring.

Alec Martinez is back and while Matt Greene remains out for a while, veteran shutdown man Willie Mitchell -- who hasn’t played this season while recovering from knee surgery -- might be back, which would be like a huge trade-deadline addition in itself for L.A.

"He’s making progress," Lombardi said Tuesday of Mitchell. "We’re getting some encouraging news. There’s a chance he’ll play [this season]. I certainly can’t go to the marketplace and trade for a Willie Mitchell."

As for whether the Kings would look to add a depth defenseman like most other contenders before April 3, Lombardi isn’t sure yet he’ll need to in part because Jake Muzzin and Keaton Ellerby have done the job for the Kings.

"Muzzin and Ellerby have been pretty good," the Kings GM said.

The silver lining is that the Kings got a look at Muzzin they probably would not have otherwise.

Otherwise, Lombardi has been pretty quiet on the trade-talk front. That can change over the next month, but right now he doesn’t have much going on.

"As much as you guys hate this cliché, it is true that we’ll look at anything that will improve our team," Lombardi said, chuckling.

Who Lombardi didn’t talk about but I will is backup netminder Jonathan Bernier. That’s L.A.’s No. 1 trade chip but it’s not clear in my mind whether that chip gets played before April 3 or in the offseason. He’s RFA after the season and it makes no sense for the Kings, cap-wise, to have to carry a more expensive contract for Bernier behind Jonathan Quick. So, eventually, Bernier will get dealt, whether that’s now or in the offseason.

The Penguins have a number of young defensemen in their organization who are drawing interest, but we’ll see just how keen Shero is to divest himself of any of them for a rental player.

As I reported last week and it’s been reported elsewhere, the Penguins are believed to have interest in Flames winger Jarome Iginla but just how much they’d be willing to pay on that front, or whether Iginla would have any interest in waiving his no-trade clause to go to Pittsburgh, who knows. Not to mention that the Flames haven’t yet decided whether they’re even moving Iginla.

Know this, Shero has never been shy of trade-deadline moves, topped by the Marian Hossa deal in the 2007-08 season, which helped the Penguins reach the Stanley Cup finals.

But it’s going to have to be a sensible price for Shero to make any kind of trade this season. There’s some realization in Pittsburgh that you can’t trade away future assets year after year.

The Habs made a deal last week with Dallas, netting Michael Ryder and a third-round pick plus opening up important offseason cap space by moving Erik Cole.

So now what?

Whether it’s before April 3 or this summer, Montreal will continue to look for more size up front. Power forwards don’t grow on trees, but what the Canadiens would love to add is someone in the Ryane Clowe-type mold: a rugged forward who can play top-six minutes. Canadiens GM Marc Bergevin made an excellent signing in Brandon Prust last summer, a player who can play on any forward line, but I believe Bergevin wants to continue on that track.

What Bergevin has at his disposal is three second-round picks in this season’s draft plus two third-rounders. That could come in handy in a trade over the next four weeks.

Having said that, I don’t think Bergevin will mortgage the future in terms of trading away top prospects or a high pick for a rental player. I think the Habs would rather make a traditional hockey deal where they get a player who can help them past this season. In other words, Bergevin isn’t getting carried away with the Habs' surprising success this season to suddenly fool himself into thinking their window has suddenly opened to go all-in trade-wise and go for a Cup run. Of course, the Canadiens want to win this season, but they will keep on track with the long-term view in any of their moves this month or this offseason.

Lars Eller is a name other teams were intrigued by earlier this season, but I don’t believe the Canadiens would move him. I think he’s staying put.

The Oilers are not sure if they’re buyers or sellers yet -- their play the next few weeks will decide that. Their shootout loss at Columbus on Tuesday night was yet another disappointing game for an Oilers team some thought could make the playoffs this season.

They’re 12th in the West as of Wednesday morning, three points out, so a run this month can certainly make them buyers but it’s not trending that way.

Like Montreal, whether it’s over the next four weeks or this offseason, a top priority for the Oilers is acquiring a power forward, a player with grit who can also play the game at a high enough level to blend with their top-six skill.

The Oilers did acquire Mike Brown earlier this week but he’s a bottom-six forward. They need more toughness in their top six in order to allow their skilled players to do their thing a little more freely.

A No. 2 defenseman is also on Edmonton’s wish list. Again, not sure that’s doable in the next four weeks, so it could be an offseason target instead.
Ryan Whitney and Nikolai Khabibulin are the most obvious trade bait; both are UFA and neither fits the future plans of the Oil. Ladislav Smid is also UFA after the season and another candidate for a possible trade.

Can the injury-riddled Senators keep hanging in there?

If somehow they defy all odds and hand Paul MacLean the Jack Adams Award in doing so, GM Bryan Murray would love to throw his group a bone with a trade-deadline pickup if his team can stay in or close to a playoff spot over the next month.

They need offense, big time. Both up front and from the back line. They’ve struggled to score goals since Jason Spezza and Erik Karlsson went down, which puts them in the market for both a forward and a defenseman.

Spezza is on track to return around the trade deadline so the defenseman might be a bigger need at that point if the Senators are still in the playoff race.

One thing’s for sure: Murray won’t do anything short-term that will hamper the team’s long-term view; he knows when all his parts are back that his club is playoff caliber next season. The big-picture view is important.

Depth in goal is where the Senators can deal from, however. Ben Bishop is the most probable candidate to be moved if the offer makes sense but the Sens aren’t shopping him, they love what he brings. But given the presence also of Robin Lehner and Craig Anderson, the right offer can net Bishop.
If a deal doesn’t make sense, Ottawa can also delay the Anderson/Bishop/Lehner decision until the offseason.

If the Senators fall out of the playoff race, then it gets really interesting on the Daniel Alfredsson front. The Senators have a simple approach: Alfredsson will decide if Alfredsson gets traded. It’s all up to him.

And finally, pending UFA Sergei Gonchar will definitely be trade bait if Ottawa falls out of it.

Carter, Muzzin spark comeback vs. Blues

March, 5, 2013

LOS ANGELES -- Jeff Carter scored the tiebreaking goal with 13:51 to play, and the Los Angeles Kings roared back from a three-goal deficit for their seventh win in eight games, 6-4 over the St. Louis Blues on Tuesday night.

Click here for the full recap.

Barry Melrose talks Kings' playoff chances

March, 5, 2013

Barry Melrose says the Kings must win at least four of the five games on their current homestand to make a run at the playoffs.


Carter leads Kings' late surge over Preds

March, 4, 2013

LOS ANGELES -- Jeff Carter completed his fifth career hat trick with two goals in a 19-second span of the third period, and the Los Angeles Kings beat the Nashville Predators 5-1 on Monday night despite taking only 16 shots on net.

Click here for the full story.

Canucks snap Kings' five-game win streak

March, 3, 2013

VANCOUVER, British Columbia -- The Vancouver Canucks turned to their top line to break out of a two-game funk.

Daniel Sedin and Jannik Hansen scored 2:44 apart late in the second period to lead the Canucks to a 5-2 victory over the Los Angeles Kings on Saturday night.

For more on Saturday night's game, click here.