Hickey signs

When Kings PR calls in the middle of a vacation lunch, my heart sinks a little, but in this case it was just to say that first-round pick Thomas Hickey has signed a standard three-year entry-level contract. It’s mostly incentive-based with the kids, but Hickey is expected to spend next season with Seattle of the WHL anyway.

Facebook Twitter Plusone Digg Reddit Stumbleupon Tumblr Email

Arbitration hearing

I apologize if this is already in the public domain, but Cammalleri’s arbitration hearing will be on Aug. 2, which is a late date in the process. The Kings have until that date to sign him and avoid a hearing. Out of the 30 players who filed, nine have already re-signed.

Thanks for all the supportive messages. I truly appreciate all of them and all of the great points that were made. I’ll try to keep everyone updated if I hear anything interesting, but I’m sure Lombardi is glad to have some time away from me…

Facebook Twitter Plusone Digg Reddit Stumbleupon Tumblr Email

Stepping away

Hey folks…I’m signing off for a much-needed two-week vacation. It comes with a bit of regret, since the blog really seems to have hit its stride recently, but I promise that I’ll be back at the end of the month and we will start gearing up for training camp. If something of significance — hello, Mr. Cammalleri — happens over the next two weeks, I’ll make sure to jump on and provide updates. I might even get bored at some point and just post some stuff anyway. I might also look into the possibility of having a mystery guest blogger or two provide their thoughts.

But regardless, when I get back I want to see us pick up right where we left off. It’s been a lot of fun recently.

Along those lines…I don’t like doing this, because this blog isn’t about ME, but there have been some questions about what I might be doing when the NHL/NBA seasons come around. And I’ll just be honest with you. There has been some serious talk about me moving over to handle a lot of Lakers stuff, but the success of this blog in recent weeks is leading management to reconsider. I’m very hopeful and optimistic that I’ll still be covering the Kings in the fall. I’ve enjoyed doing this more than anything I’ve done in my 11-plus years of daily journalism, and that’s largely a tribute to all the support and enthusiasm that has come from you. I’m very grateful for that, and I’ll promise you this: if you continue to visit this site in huge numbers — as you have been in the last few weeks — it won’t be going anywhere.

So my parting question is this: how can I make this better? Once the season starts — and training camp too, other than when they’re in Europe — the possibilities are tremendous. By September, this won’t just be a blog. It will be a much more functional page for Kings information and discussion. So let me know what you’d like to see. Be as creative as you’d like, and we’ll sort it all out and see what’s popular and realistic.

Again, thanks to everyone for your continued support…

Facebook Twitter Plusone Digg Reddit Stumbleupon Tumblr Email

Who will surprise?

Yesterday, we spent most of the time talking about guys who probably are shoo-ins to make the team. Here’s what I want to know today: who’s the spoiler? Who’s the guy you think will come in and take a roster spot (or at least a lineup spot) from a more-veteran guy based on his play in training camp.

We’re talking about guys such as Boyle, Cliche, Gauthier, Harrold, Hersley, Kanko, Lewis, Meckler, Moulson, Murray, Parse, Petiot, Piskula, Purcell and Tukonen. Did I miss anyone? I leave O’Sullivan off the list because I think most people already consider him a “lineup” guy.

I’m going with Harrold. I think the cup of coffee in the NHL last season will pay off, it probably wouldn’t be that hard to bump Modry and Harrold is a guy who has Lombardi squarely in his corner.

Who do you think, and why?

I’m heading out to the Riptide lacrosse game later this afternoon. For anyone who has ever been curious, or wants to check out something new, I recommend it. Great action and great athletes.

Facebook Twitter Plusone Digg Reddit Stumbleupon Tumblr Email

Consensus picks

Great responses, everyone. All of you made compelling arguments about who might fit where. I had to laugh when a couple people pointed out that all this would be out the window before the end of the first game. That’s so true. Crawford switched lines so often last season that it made me dizzy.

The consensus seems to be a first line of Brown, Kopitar and Cammalleri, followed by Nagy, Handzus and Frolov, followed by Calder, Armstrong and O’Sullivan, followed by some combination of Zeiler, Ivanans, Thornton and Willsie.

That makes sense to me. Brown and Kopitar did indeed seem to click at the end of the season, although I wonder if the Kings will revisit the idea of Frolov and Kopitar playing together. It just seems a bit potentially problematic to me, if you’re Crawford and your best center might have chemistry issues with one of your top two wingers. I’m sure every team has that problem to some extent, but I wonder if it’s something they might try to resolve in training camp.

Seems as though there’s a general agreement on the defensive pairings of Visnovsky-Stuart, Blake-Johnson and Preissing-Modry.

I think the two linchpins in all of this might be Patrick O’Sullivan and Peter Harrold. If they can play well enough in camp to force themselves into better positions, it might shake things up. You could say the same about any number of young players, but I think those two have the most potential to considerably shake things up.

Thanks for the responses everyone. Feel free to keep posting them. I’ll throw another topic out there tomorrow morning.

Facebook Twitter Plusone Digg Reddit Stumbleupon Tumblr Email

Line matchups?

Since it’s a light period for news, I figured I would throw this open to everyone… if you were Marc Crawford, how would you have the team look on opening night? (or, in our case in the U.S., opening morning). Of course, a lot of factors go into this and a lot of tinkering will be done in training camp, but what makes sense right now?

Here’s one, off the top of my head. Maybe we can use it as a starting point and see how it evolves with your recommendations.

Frolov-Kopitar-Cammalleri
Nagy-Handzus-Brown
Calder-O’Sullivan-Willsie
Thornton-Armstrong-Zeiler

The third line is perplexing to me. I wasn’t certain what to do with it. I’m not certain that O’Sullivan’s game would work well with Calder and Willsie, but I think the Kings want Nagy and Handzus to play together. Putting O’Sullivan with them, on RW, might make sense but then who is the third-line center? Do you make it Calder-Armstrong-Brown on the third line? Then if so, who centers the fourth line?

The defense is even tougher. Do you go Visnovsky-Stuart, Blake-Johnson and Modry-Pressing? Or Johnson-Preissing, Blake-Modry? It’s hard, not having seen a lot of Preissing, to know where he fits.

I’m curious to see what everyone thinks.

Facebook Twitter Plusone Digg Reddit Stumbleupon Tumblr Email

Unrest in Dallas

It should be a quiet day. The “bigger names” have left the development camp and it’s now primarily the recent draft picks and free-agent guys working out. I’ll get out there tomorrow to get some final thoughts from Crawford and make a guy such as Oscar Moller, who seems interesting.

As always, if anyone has any questions that I might be able to answer, feel free to post them here and I’ll do my best to answer.

Other than that, I’ll leave you with some reading material. TSN did a feature/preview of the Kings that you can read here. Nothing groundbreaking, but I think it can be interesting to see how the Kings are viewed in Canada.

Finally, thanks to reader Don for passing this along. Seems that the folks in Dallas aren’t very happy with the Stars’ inactivity on the free-agent market. Below, I’ll attach a letter that team president James R. Lites sent out to fans today. It’s actually quite a letter…
Continue reading

Facebook Twitter Plusone Digg Reddit Stumbleupon Tumblr Email

Lombardi interview

Here’s the quotes from tonight’s interview with Lombardi. For those who would like the abridged version…

– He’s happy to get the deal done, and thinks it came at a reasonable price because a) it got done early and b) Visnovsky’s desire to stay in L.A. made things easier.

– Cammalleri and arbitration? “It looks like it’s headed that way,” according to Lombardi, although they’re still looking to get a deal done before it comes to that.

– The camp has been good, but Lombardi is more concerned with improvement than rating players.

– The schedule is a concern, particularly since the Kings have to return to the West Coast after the trip to London. Lombardi also shares his thoughts about the challenges faced by playing in Staples Center.

Here’s the interview…
Continue reading

Facebook Twitter Plusone Digg Reddit Stumbleupon Tumblr Email

Scrimmage results

The white team, the one with Daniel Taylor and Mike Ouzas in goal, earned a 4-2 victory over the black team, with Jeff Zatkoff and Linden Rowat in goal. Goals were scored by Lauri Tukonen, Matt Moulson, Kevin Westgarth, Brady Murray, Vladimir Dravecky and Dwight King.

Afterward I talked to Lombardi for a few minutes, although long because I had to dash home and file my story for the Daily News. I’ll do the transcript tonight, but here’s the 10-second version.

Visnovsky…good.
Cammalleri…not good.
Schedule…worrisome.

More later.

Facebook Twitter Plusone Digg Reddit Stumbleupon Tumblr Email