The Kings would neither confirm nor deny a report Friday that right wing Dustin Brown would have his captaincy taken away from him next season. The Canadian sports network TSN said on its website that Brown was told he would no longer be the Kings’ captain, a position he’s held since taking over for Rob Blake after the 2007-08 season.
“We’re not prepared to respond to these reports at this time,” said Michael Altieri, the Kings’ senior vice president for broadcasting and communications.
Brown captained the Kings to Stanley Cup championships in 2012 and ’14, but his statistics have dipped in recent seasons. He scored 11 goals in 2015-16 for the second consecutive season, matching his career low for a full 82-game campaign. He failed to top 30 points for the fourth consecutive season after recording 50 or more for five in a row. He set career highs with 33 goals and 60 points in 2007-08.
The 31-year-old Brown has six seasons remaining on an eight-year, $47-million contract he signed with the Kings in 2014.
If the Kings were to replace Brown as captain it’s likely that center Anze Kopitar would be his successor. Kopitar has led the Kings in scoring in each season since 2007-08 and is a finalist this season for the Selke Trophy as the NHL’s top defensive forward.
The NHL draft is June 24-25 in Buffalo, N.Y. Here is a list of the Kings’ four draft picks (as of May 16):
Second round, fourth, fifth and seventh.
The Kings dealt their first-round pick to the Carolina Hurricanes to acquire defenseman Andrej Sekera on Feb. 25, 2015. Sekera became a free agent after the 2014-15 season and signed a six-year, $33-million contract with the Edmonton Oilers.
Free agency begins July 1, and Ducks general manager Bob Murray figures to be busy. Here’s a list of the Ducks’ unrestricted free agents (those eligible to sign with other teams without the Ducks having the right to match their offers), via the indispensable website generalfanager.com:
Forwards Shawn Horcoff, Jamie McGinn, David Perron, Mike Santorelli, Chris Stewart, defenseman Korbinian Holzer and goaltender Anton Khudobin.
Here are the Ducks’ restricted free agents (those whose rights the Ducks continue to hold):
Forwards Brandon Pirri and Rickard Rakell, defensemen Hampus Lindholm and Sami Vatanen and goalie Frederik Andersen.
Free agency doesn’t begin until July 1, but the Kings (and every other NHL team) can give their own players contract extensions at any point between now and then. They’ve already done it with one unrestricted free agent, agreeing to terms with coach Darryl Sutter on a new deal that will kick in when his old one expires July 1.
Here are the Kings’ unrestricted free agents (eligible to sign with any team without the Kings able to match the offer), per generalfanager.com:
Forwards Milan Lucic, Kris Versteeg and Trevor Lewis.
Defensemen Jamie McBain and Luke Schenn.
Goalie Jhonas Enroth.
Here are the Kings’ restricted free agents (the Kings have the right to match offers from other teams):
The Kings and Darryl Sutter have agreed on a new contract. A team spokesman said a formal announcement would be made Friday. Terms were not immediately available. Sutter’s three-year contract was due to expire July 1 and Kings general manager Dean Lombardi said last week there was a “very fair” offer on the table. The Los Angeles Times first reported the agreement Thursday afternoon.
Sutter is 186-112-45 in four-plus seasons with the Kings. He led the team to Stanley Cup championships in 2014 and ’12. The San Jose Sharks eliminated them in the first round of the playoffs this season, and there’s been plenty of speculation in recent days and weeks that the Kings’ roster could undergo a major shakeup for 2016-17. The head coach will remains the same, however.
“Failure is the best teacher,” Lombardi said last week. “So it’s very simple for every part of this organization right now … We have to look at ourselves in the mirror and admit that these two things happened, and now we have to get back on that path – the innovation, the spark, the challenge that was there seven years ago and we were coming from the gutter. You’ve got to get it back.”