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):
Forward: Nic Dowd.
Key play: Defenseman Jake Muzzin scored the fourth of the Kings’ four second-period goals to lift them to a 5-3 victory Saturday afternoon over the Pittsburgh Penguins at Staples Center. The Penguins blanked the Kings in two games last season and it was scoreless after one period Saturday.
Pivotal performer: Muzzin scored a goal and added two assists in the second period, helping the Kings take a 4-2 lead after 40 minutes. Muzzin tied his career high with three points, his third three-point game. The last was Dec. 11, 2014 against the Ottawa Senators.
Pivotal (part 2): Left wing Chris Kunitz had a goal and two assists for the Penguins, helping them rally from deficits of 3-0 and 4-1to make it 4-3 with more than 17 minute remaining in regulation. Kunitz’s goal cut the Penguins’ deficit to 3-1 midway through the second period.
Quote, unquote: “We don’t get much respect in terms of our back end,” Kings coach Darryl Sutter said of the team’s defense corps, which contributed goals from Muzzin, Drew Doughty and Christian Ehrhoff. “Everyone talks about Drew and it goes down from there. It’s something even after last season, we felt we were in the top 10 in production from our defense, and that’s what we expect.”
Injury update: Kings forward Trevor Lewis couldn’t play Saturday after suffering an upper-body injury during Friday’s practice. Jordan Weal replaced Lewis as the Kings’ fourth-line center, making only his fourth appearance of the season.