Trent Hunter to sign pro tryout contract.

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.

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Ethan Moreau signs, and he’s pissed off.

Ask Ethan Moreau, and he’ll tell you it’s a good thing not too many teams inquired about his services this summer.

“Because it makes me pissed off for the season coming up,” said the 35-year-old forward, who finalized a one-year, $600,000 contract with the Kings on Tuesday.

Most athletes will tell you they play better with something to prove — the proverbial chip on the shoulder — and Moreau definitely has something. While Kings assistant general manager Ron Hextall said they were “thrilled to have him,” he’s well aware why Moreau was still on the free-agent market in late August: Teams were scared off by a lengthy injury history that included a 2010-11 season in which Moreau played just 37 games.

“Last year was a tough year, whenever a player is getting on in years, everyone questions whether he’s capable of doing it anymore,” Hextall said.

Moreau — who passed a physical Monday –insists he can still do it.
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The skinny on Ethan Moreau.

Veteran forward Ethan Moreau is scheduled to complete a physical today, which would be the last hurdle before the Kings can make his 1-year contract official. The deal has been reported in various places at $600,000.

Moreau’s history suggests that passing a physical is no slam dunk.

3 p.m. update: Moreau has passed his physical and is expected to finalize the contract tomorrow.

The former Edmonton Oilers captain, who turns 35 on Sept. 22, never established a role for himself with the Columbus Blue Jackets last season because of three separate injuries. The first, on Oct. 20, came when Moreau was struck by a slapshot and broke his hand. That cost him 17 games. The second, on Jan. 4, came when he was diagnosed with rib cartilage damage after an on-ice collision. That cost him another 17 games. The third, on March 22, came when he blocked a shot and bruised his foot. That cost him the final nine games of the regular season.

On the surface, all three injuries seem to reflect poor luck rather than poor physique. But even if Moreau gets a clean bill of health, the cynic can argue it won’t matter – read Exhibit A here:

The optimism about Moreau sounds more than a bit out there in Columbus, where Aaron Portzline of the Columbus Post-Dispatch writes, “The Blue Jackets wanted to claim Moreau rather than let him become a free agent on Thursday, sources said, where he’d be seeking a two- or three-year contract. He is seen as a perfect compliment on the Blue Jackets’ third line with center Sammy Pahlsson. The Blue Jackets can certainly use his size, intensity and veteran presence in the dressing room.”

Bottom line: Moreau will be greatly defying the odds by staging a comeback season at his age with his injury history.

That was a year ago. Moreau’s final stats — 37 games, one goal, five assists, and a minus-9 rating — seemed to prove those early odds were correct.
Continue reading “The skinny on Ethan Moreau.” »

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