Anze Kopitar is officially the new captain of the Los Angeles Kings. And while the news can’t help but cast a spotlight on the former captain, Dustin Brown, GM Dean Lombardi maintains that the move is part of the franchise’s evolution.
Following the end of the 2016 Stanley Cup final between the Pittsburgh Penguins and San Jose Sharks, it didn’t take long for speculation to begin over the Cup finalists’ off-season plans.
ESPN.com’s Craig Custance suggests the Penguins trade goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury. With Matt Murray taking over as the starter during the playoffs and the Penguins carrying limited salary-cap room, they could consider moving the 31-year-old’s $5.75-million cap hit.
Custance believes Fleury could be “a great fit” with the Calgary Flames or Carolina Hurricanes. Both clubs need depth between the pipes and have depth in young talent and prospects to entice the Penguins.
The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s Dave Molinari notes the Penguins could also move Fleury this summer in order to protect Murray in a possible expansion draft next June. He also speculates the veteran netminder could request a trade.
Nothing says the off-season quite like the threat of buyouts, and we’re inching ever-closer to the NHL’s buyout window opening and several players could see their time with their current teams come to a close.
For some of the candidates, massive contracts are at fault, while other will fall victim to underperforming or simply not fitting within a team’s structure any longer. Unfortunately, some are a combination of all three.
With the salary cap remaining relatively flat according to all reports, several teams are going to be in tough financial situations. Even a rise of $2 million in the salary cap, which is a rough estimate of the maximum amount the upper limit will rise, would still see several teams in tough cap positions. That’s not to say all players on this list will be bought out, but there’s at least a fair chance several from this list will be sent packing by way of a buyout. Read more
Entering the NHL off-season, it appears the league’s projected increase in the salary cap to $74 million could fall short.
Each year, the NHLPA votes on approving a five-percent escalator clause. If the players vote against it this year, the cap ceiling could drop. Last Saturday, Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman reported the cap could fall to under $70 million.
The New York Post’s Larry Brooks cites a source with ties to the PA claiming the cap would drop to $69.3 million if the players reject the escalator. If they approve it, the ceiling rises to $72.8 million.
The past season was Milan Lucic’s first season as a member of the Los Angeles Kings, and it appears as if it could very well have been his last.
If Lucic isn’t signed to a new deal by the Kings by July 1, the 28-year-old power forward will become an unrestricted free agent for the first time in his career. Though there had been talk about Los Angeles extending Lucic’s contract both during the season and after the Kings were eliminated from the post-season, it appears the two sides are either further apart than first believed or that Los Angeles could be going another direction.
During an interview Monday with Vancouver’s NEWS 1130, Lucic’s agent, Gerry Johannson, said that the Kings and his client haven’t spoken recently and, with less than a month to go until free agency opens, Lucic is preparing to hit the open market. Read more
Brayden McNabb has been a steady, reliable, second- or third-pairing defender for the Los Angeles Kings over the past two seasons, and he’s been rewarded for his steady development with a new two-year deal.
The Kings announced Friday they have signed McNabb, who was set to become a restricted free agent, to a two-year contract. While the Los Angeles didn’t release any details of the deal, the Los Angeles Times’ Lisa Dillman reported the contract will see McNabb, 25, earn $1.6 million in 2016-17 and get a raise to $1.8 million in 2017-18, which means he’ll carry an annual cap hit of $1.7 million.
McNabb’s offensive stats won’t exactly blow anyone away — he scored two goals and 14 points in 2015-16 — but that he’s able to effectively slot into both the second and third pairings makes him a valuable asset on the Kings blueline. This past season, he averaged nearly 18:48 in ice time per game. He wasn’t a major factor on either the power play or penalty kill, especially after the Kings’ acquisition of Rob Scuderi, but McNabb does take a regular shift when Los Angeles is down a man. Read more
PITTSBURGH – In a Stanley Cup final where speed could end up being a determining factor, the San Jose Sharks got a lot faster for Game 2 when they announced winger Matt Nieto would be drawing back into the lineup after missing eight games with what is suspected to be a left shoulder injury.
Nieto has been out of the Sharks lineup since crashing into the net in Game 6 of their second-round series against the Nashville Predators. He was ready to go for Game 1 of the final, but the Sharks elected to sit him out. But after seeing how fast the Penguins are as a team and needed players who can keep up to that speed, Nieto gets the call for Game 2.
Dustin Brown still has six years and $32.5 million remaining on his contract with the Kings, but it appears as though he’s about to spend the rest of his days in Los Angeles without the captaincy.
TSN’s Frank Seravalli reported Friday afternoon that Brown, 31, has been told he won’t be the Kings’ captain next season and that Los Angeles plans to “go in a different direction” with the captaincy moving forward. Brown, the 15th captain in Kings franchise history, has worn the ‘C’ for the past eight seasons and took on the role just three seasons into his NHL career. It’s his no longer, however.
There are likely a number of factors involved in the Kings stripping Brown of the captaincy, but the foremost is certainly the downturn in production he has seen over the past several seasons. Brown was named captain following a 33-goal, 60-point season in 2007-08, but he hasn’t been able to recreate that production since. Read more