The Kings learned free-agent center Brad Richardson signed a two-season, $2.3-million contract Friday with the Vancouver Canucks. Richardson recorded one goal and five assists in only 16 games last season, sitting out all but two of the first 34 contests. He’s likely to be slotted into a fourth-line role with the Canucks. Richardson played 255 games over five seasons with the Kings, but had only 24 goals and 41 assists.
Free agency begins Friday. Here’s a look at the Kings’ unrestricted free agents:
Dustin Penner, LW, 2 goals, 12 assists, minus-2, 33 games, 2012-13 salary $3.25 million.
Brad Richardson, C, 1 goal, 5 assists, plus-2, 16 games, 2012-13 salary $1.35 million.
Rob Scuderi, D, 1 goal, 11 assists, minus-6, 48 games. 2012-13 salary $3.4 million
Thanks to capgeek.com for salary info.
Kings coach Darryl Sutter likes center Brad Richardson’s game. He had no second thoughts about inserting him into Jarret Stoll’s spot on the third line. But since Richardson plays a position at which the Kings have an embarrassment of riches, Sutter spent most of the regular season scratching him from the lineup.
The Kings and Coyotes played six times last season. Three of the games were decided by one goal; two were decided by two goals; and the other time the Kings decided not to play defense and lost 6-3.
True to their nature –even in the preseason, with rosters full of players who will spend this season in the AHL, ECHL or Canadian junior leagues –the Kings and Coyotes played a pair of one-goal games Thursday. The Coyotes squad that hosted the Kings in Glendale, Arizona, lost 3-2. The Coyotes squad that played in Anaheim a day earlier visited Staples Center and pulled out a 2-1 shootout win.
In Glendale [game summary | event summary], Dustin Penner scored with 49 seconds left in regulation to break a 2-2 tie. Tyler Toffoli had a goal and an assist, Trevor Lewis had three assists, and Ethan Moreau scored in the first period –chronologically, the Kings’ first goal of the preseason.
Jonathan Bernier started and saved 18 of 19 shots in two periods. Jeff Zatkoff got the third period and stopped 8 of 9.
At Staples Center, the vantage point of the press box offered a few more insights:
Veteran forward Trent Hunter will join the Kings in training camp on a pro tryout contract. The 31-year-old forward has spent his entire NHL career with the New York Islanders, for whom he played only 17 games last season before tearing the medial collateral ligament in his left knee Nov. 24.
Hunter can provide a physical presence from the right wing at 6-foot-3 and 210 pounds, but also brings some scoring touch. He had never scored fewer than 11 goals in an NHL season before 2010-11, when Hunter scored just one. In 459 career NHL games, he has 99 goals, 229 points and 201 penalty minutes.
The Kings already signed a similar player, albeit with less offensive upside, in Ethan Moreau. Forward Colin Fraser is also in the mix for a bottom-six role along with Kyle Clifford, Brad Richardson, Trevor Lewis, Scott Parse and Kevin Westgarth. Jarret Stoll seems to have the third-line center position locked down, so that means Hunter will likely have to beat out one contracted player for a roster spot.
Brad Richardson became the latest restricted free agent to come to terms with the Kings on Wednesday, avoiding arbitration with a two-year deal that pays $1 million in 2011-12 and $1.35 million in 2012-13.
His annual salary-cap hit of $1.175 million is reasonable for a player who has a 14-goal season to his credit, kills penalties, adds speed to a relatively slow group of forwards, and can play all three forward positions. Richardson won 50.8 percent of his faceoffs last season, third on the team. He jelled with Kyle Clifford and Wayne Simmonds — who has since been traded to Philadelphia –during the playoffs, and his five points (two goals, three assists) in six games matched Clifford for the team lead.
According to capgeek.com, the Kings still have $10.7 million of cap room to play with.
Which leads to the question of who will be the next to sign.
It probably won’t be Drew Doughty.
Alec Martinez and Brad Richardson were among 23 NHL players who elected arbitration today.
Richardson was tendered a qualifying offer (along with Marc-Andre Cliche, Rich Clune, Corey Elkins and Trevor Lewis) while Martinez was headed for restricted free agency.
The deadline for Club-Elected Salary Arbitration notification is 2 p.m. (Pacific Time) Wednesday. Hearings will be held in Toronto from July 20 to August 4. Martinez and Richardson can avoid arbitration by reaching a contract agreement before then.
In the meantime, expect the following facts and figures to be dissected by both sides:
After appearing in four NHL games last year, Martinez was recalled from AHL Manchester on Nov. 23 and seized the Kings’ sixth defenseman job. His five goals matched Jack Johnson and Drew Doughty for second among Kings defensemen; he also had a plus-11 rating, second only to Doughty among blueliners.
The 23-year-old Martinez earned $662,500 in the NHL last season, according to capgeek.com.
Richardson, who can play all three forward positions, had seven goals and 19 points in 68 games last season while averaging 11:45 in a utility role. He was among the regulars on the penalty kill, a role he could expect to reprise with PK specialist Michal Handzus playing in San Jose.
In the Kings’ six-game playoff series against the Sharks, Richardson found success on a line with Kyle Clifford and Wayne Simmonds, matching Clifford’s five points for the team lead.
The 26-year-old made $900,000 last season according to CapGeek.
“Overtime” and “heartbreak” went together well for the Kings in this year’s playoffs. So did “Staples Center” and “heartbreak.”
“Kings” and “heartbreak”? Stop me if you’ve heard that one before.
Joe Thornton’s goal at 2:22 of overtime ended the Kings’ season Monday with a 4-3 loss at Staples. The Kings finished 0-3 at home in the series, 0-3 in overtime, and finished this season right where they ended the last: Done for the season after six playoff games.
Players and coaches won’t be available to the media tomorrow, so a full-fledged “obituary” of the season will have to wait until Wednesday.
I put a request out to the Kings for comment. Like the obituary, it may have to wait.
A few factoids for now:
The hashtags and catchphrases were skipping through cyberspace within a half-hour of Devin Setoguchi’s goal at 3:09 of overtime: “The Failure on Figueroa.”
After squandering a 4-0, second-period lead, the Kings’ 6-5 overtime loss in Game 3 to the San Jose Sharks can be seen as nothing less.
“We’ve got to look at what happened in the second (period), learn from it,” a despondent Kings captain Dustin Brown said, “because we don’t have the type of team that can take periods off, especially at this time of year.”
Apparently the Sharks do — a revelation that may ultimately prove the difference in the series.
Antti Niemi was pulled after allowing four goals on 10 shots, the last of which came 44 seconds into the second period on a Brad Richardson wrister.
Somehow, inexplicably, the Sharks shed the ghosts of postseasons past by scoring five goals over the remainder of the second period. Only a backdoor, breakaway tally by Ryan Smyth interrupted the onslaught and kept the teams tied at 5 heading into the third period.
“[It was] puck management,” Brown said. “We needed to get the puck deep on them. They’re a fast offensive team and we gave them chances and plays. They can find lanes and open areas to get some goals, and that’s kind of what happened with the overtime goal. They transitioned it from their end, and it was pretty quick.”
Like ripping off a band-aid, Setoguchi’s first goal of the series provided a stinging, decisive conclusion to a back-and-forth game.
The question now: How deep do the Kings’ emotional wounds run?
“It stings right now,” Kings defenseman Matt Greene said. “We got to let it go though right away. You give yourself tonight, you feel bad about it, but tomorrow’s a new day.”
Vancouver or San Jose?
That’s the question facing the Kings after 82 games, the two brands of poison awaiting in the first round for a team that will finish either seventh or eighth in the Western Conference. Here are the scenarios following a season-ending, 3-1 loss to the Ducks:
If the Chicago Blackhawks beat the Detroit Red Wings today, the Kings are the eighth seed and play Vancouver.
If Chicago loses in overtime or a shootout, the Kings are the eighth seed and play Vancouver.
If Chicago loses in regulation, the Kings have the seventh seed and play San Jose.
The Kings went 2-2-0 against the Canucks – 1-1 at home, 1-1 on the road, winning the first two and losing the last two. They went 3-3-0 against the Sharks –1-2 on the road, 2-1 at home, and getting both home wins via shootouts.
Not that Terry Murray is crunching numbers just yet.
“I’m not watching the scoreboard right now,” the coach said. “It’s just disappointing we did not have the handle to take control of our own destiny the last couple games.”
The team expects to have its playoff schedule sometime after 7 p.m. tomorrow.
A few notes that won’t make tomorrow’s editions.