Nicolas Deslauriers signs entry-level deal.

Twenty-year-old defenseman Nicolas Deslauriers, a third-round draft pick in 2009, signed a three-year entry-level deal with the Kings on Tuesday.

The native of Ville Lasalle, Quebec, led all QMJHL defensemen in 2011 playoff scoring with 20 points (5-15=20) in 24 games. Deslauriers helped Gatineau advance to the President’s Cup final, the QMJHL’s championship series, before the Olympiques lost to the Saint John Sea Dogs in six games.

In 48 regular-season games during the 2010-11 season, Deslauriers racked up 43 points (13 goals, 30 assists) and 53 penalty minutes. He led all defensemen on his team in goals (13), assists (30), points (43), power-play goals (6), and plus/minus rating (plus-22).

Deslauriers can also fight, with evidence here and here.

Deslauriers was the third player chosen by the Kings in a draft class that also includes Brayden Schenn (fifth overall) and Kyle Clifford (35th overall). Fellow 2009 draftees Linden Vey, Jean-Francois Berube and Jordan Nolan, David Kolomatis and Brandon Kozun have all signed their entry-level NHL deals too.

Seventh-round pick Nic Dowd just finished his freshman season at St. Cloud State and is unlikely to be tendered a contract before his eligibility expires. Michael Pelech, a sixth-round pick, signed an AHL contract in 2010 and spent last season with the ECHL’s Ontario Reign.

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Kitsyn, Mississauga fall short in Memorial Cup final.

Prospect Maxim Kitsyn and the Mississauga St. Michael’s Majors fell 3-1 to the Saint John Sea Dogs in the Memorial Cup championship game Sunday night.

Kitsyn, a sixth-round draft pick in 2010, had only two points (one goal, one assist) in the Majors’ five-game Memorial Cup run on home ice. But he had a strong postseason overall, finishing with 10 goals and 19 points – both tied for second on the team – in 20 games.

That was quite a statistical improvement compared to the OHL regular season for Kitsyn, who remained in North America after leading Team Russia to a gold medal at the World Junior Championships in January. Playing on the smaller, NHL-sized rink full-time, Kitsyn had nine goals and 26 points in 32 games with Mississauga during the regular season.

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Barry Potomski, 1972-2011.

The London Free Press and Windsor Star earlier today reported the death of former Kings enforcer Barry Potomski. He was 38 when he died of a heart attack Monday while working out at a gym, according to both reports.

Potomski appeared in 59 games as a King during the 1995-96 and ’96-97 seasons. He recorded six goals, 10 points and 197 penalty minutes over those seasons, then finished his NHL career with a nine-game cameo for the Sharks in ’97-98. Potomski retired from hockey after the 2000-01 season with the Idaho Steelheads, then of the West Coast Hockey League.

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Off-season training starts early for Kings prospects.

Manchester Monarchs forward Ray Kaunisto shared an interesting tidbit on his blog today. From raykaunisto.blogspot.com:

This week, starting Tuesday, the Kings let us come down to Detroit to workout and shoot with some of the development guys. It is just a two day camp that shows us how to properly shoot, stick handle, and other on ice skills, as well as helping us out with learning the kings workout.

The guys here are Kozun, Schenn, Toffoli, Dowd, Clifford, Czarnik, Weal, Nolan, and Muzzin. The days consist of two off ice sessions per day and two on ice sessions per day. Everything is pretty tough to do but it makes us better really quickly. A lot of good ideas for shooting and practicing are being passed on to us this week from some really good former NHLers. As always it’s an honor to be here and be around so many world class players and coaches.

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Kings announce Berube, Vey signings.

The Kings officially announced the signing of two prospects — goalie J-F Berube and forward Linden Vey — to entry-level contracts today. Berube’s deal had been anticipated since it was first reported by RDS last week. Both Berube and Vey get three-year deals.

Vey, who turns 20 in July, just finished his fourth season with the Medicine Hat Tigers of the Western Hockey League, going 46-70=116 in 69 games, leading the league in points. Listed at 5-10 and 166 pounds, Vey might have to work his way up to the NHL, likely beginning in Manchester.

Berube went 32-7-8 with a 2.60 goals-against average and .902 save percentage for the Montreal Juniors of the QMJHL in 2010-11. Berube, who also turns 20 in July, is all but assured to turn pro next season and would likely be assigned either to AHL affiliate Manchester or ECHL affiliate Ontario.

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Report: Berube signs entry-level deal. Update.

Goaltender Jean-Francois Berube, a fourth-round draft pick by the Kings in 2009, has signed an entry-level contract, according to RDS.ca.

5:27 p.m. update: A Kings spokesperson said that Berube hasn’t officially signed. We’ll let you know if that changes.

Berube went 32-7-8 with a 2.60 goals-against average and .902 save percentage for the Montreal Juniors of the QMJHL in 2010-11.

Berube, who turns 20 in July, is all but assured to turn pro next season and would likely be assigned either to AHL affiliate Manchester or ECHL affiliate Ontario.

The Kings have two other contracted goalies in their system. Jeff Zatkoff, a 2006 draft pick, recently completed the final season of his entry-level contract in a tandem situation in Manchester. The other half of the tandem is Martin Jones, who started last season in Ontario and finished in Manchester. He’s signed through 2012-13.

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Kevin Westgarth on Derek Boogaard.

Consider this hypothetical situation:

You make widgets for a living. The pay is very good, anywhere from about $600K to $1 million a year if you perform especially well. You don’t have to work summers, which can last anywhere from three to five months. The job is highly prestigious. There are only 29 other people of your caliber in the world who are deemed capable of making widgets. Oh, and the best part: You’ve dreamed of making widgets all your life. It’s literally your dream job.

The main drawback – one of few – is that you will get injured at work. Previous widget-makers have had to quit after less than five years because of their injuries. You heard that one guy suffered multiple head injuries on the job, enough that it probably contributed to his death at age 45. Other guys aren’t dead but are dealing with permanent scars, psychologically more than physically.

Then on Friday, you heard the worst news imaginable. One of the other 29 widget-makers was found dead at his home at age 28. You know he suffered a concussion in December and hadn’t been able to go back to work since. You don’t know the whole story, but you’re in shock.

Now, the key question: Knowing this, knowing the potentially heightened stakes of injury, are you still going to keep making widgets?
Continue reading

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Moller will play in Sweden next season.

Oscar Moller will play for Skellefte of the Swedish Elitserien next season. The news was first reported by hockey.expressen.se.

The 22-year-old forward excelled at the AHL level (23 goals, 50 points with Manchester) in 2010-11, but couldn’t consistently crack the Kings’ lineup for the third straight season. Moller had a goal and four points in 13 regular-season games and did not score during 10 minutes, 37 seconds of ice time in Game 2 of the first-round series against San Jose.

A second-round 2007 draft pick (52nd overall), the diminutive forward had 12 goals and 26 points in 87 games with the Kings. After this, the final season on Moller’s entry-level contract, Kings coach Terry Murray told reporters that there was nothing more Moller could have done to get more playing time –a sure sign of a dead end if there ever were one.

Moller was set to become a restricted free agent July 1 and the Kings will retain his NHL rights.

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Kings at the World Championships, Day 14.

Jonathan Bernier’s first experience in the World Championships came to an abrupt end Thursday, when he allowed goals by Alexei Kaigorodov and Ilya Kovalchuk in the final 11 minutes of Team Canada’s 2-1 loss to Russia.

Russia will play FInland in the semifinals, while Canada is eliminated. Russia previously beat Canada for the World Championship gold medal in 2008 and 2009.

Bernier made 18 saves. According to IIHF.com:

The winning goal came when Alexander Radulov swung in behind the Canadian net and spotted Kovalchuk in the slot. The quick shot beat Jonathan Bernier between the pads as he slid across the crease. Bernier had been excellent all night, although Canada held a wide margin in shots, 37-20.

Bernier finished the tournament with a 2-1 record, 2.01 goals-against average, and .917 save percentage in three games.

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Kings at the World Championships, Day 13.

Jack Johnson and Team USA had nothing for the Czech Republic in a 4-0 loss Wednesday, ending their run at the IIHF World Championships. Jaromir Jagr had a hat trick and Ondrej Pavelec made 29 saves. The U.S. was outshot 39-29 while finishing out of medal contention for the seventh consecutive season.

Johnson was a minus-1 in 21:13 for the game. For the tournament, he had a goal and two assists in seven games, finishing with a cumulative minus-4 rating, and averaging a team-best 23:24 TOI.

Here’s a link to a PDF document of Team USA’s stats. It’s pretty clear why they failed to medal — among their leading scorers were the New York Rangers’ Derek Stepan, and University of Wisconsin sophomore Craig Smith.

Jonathan Bernier and Team Canada are back in action tomorrow.

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