Roster update

We had some blog server issues the other day but we’re back up and running…

I talked to Jeff Solomon, who handles contract stuff as the Kings’ director of hockey operations, about the two major remaining restricted free agents, Patrick O’Sullivan and Jarret Stoll. Nothing groundbreaking, other than that the re-signing of Stoll, in Solomon’s view, is much closer to becoming a reality. As for O’Sullivan, this will hardly qualify as breaking news, but the issue continues to be what Solomon calls “comps,” or comparable players. The key is finding where exactly O’Sullivan fits, in terms of other players’ age, statistics and salary. There’s really no way to gauge “progress.” Talks are ongoing.

I also asked Solomon about the potential of signing Doughty and Teubert soon, and whether Tampa Bay’s signing of Stamkos creates any type of “domino” effect in terms of draft picks signing. Given the fairly restrictive nature of entry-level contracts, it’s not so much of an issue. A player such as a Stamkos will automatically get the maximum in terms of salary and bonus money, and the players drafted below will fall in line. Solomon said he has already had talks with Doughty’s agent and will soon begin talks with Teubert’s agent.

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Patrick O’Sullivan interview

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Here’s the interview I did yesterday with Patrick O’Sullivan. He discusses his experience at the World Championships this month, as well as his personal development as a player, his hopes for the Kings’ improvement and his contract situation this summer.

It’s been very interesting to watch O’Sullivan develop. I still remember watching him at his first prospects camp and thinking he had all the talent in the world, then watching him consistently go backward until he eventually landed back in the AHL. Then he started a tremendous comeback and essentially reinvented himself in the eyes of the Kings. Along the way, he’s gone from being a quiet kid to a more confident player.

Here’s the full interview with O’Sullivan…
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World Championships update

This is the final day of the preliminary round of the World Championships. As far as the Kings’ interests go, the United States (with Dustin Brown and Patrick O’Sullivan) finished second in Group B and will start the “qualification” round with a game Thursday against the third-place team from Group C. That’s likely to be Slovakia (with Lubomir Visnovsky), but that group’s standings won’t be determined until today. Slovenia (with Anze Kopitar) finished fourth in Group B and dropped into the relegation round and will play Friday against the fourth-place team from Group C, which will probably be Norway.

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Canada 5, USA 4

Quite a game up in Halifax today. They’re still in pool play in the World Championships. Canada took a 3-0 lead early in the second period. USA pulled within 3-2 on Patrick O’Sullivan’s goal 3:09 into the second period, then within 4-3 on Dustin Brown’s power-play goal 5:18 into the third period. O’Sullivan assisted on Brown’s goal, and Brown had an assist earlier in the game. USA tied it 4-4 seven minutes into the third period and Canada scored the winner with 47 seconds remaining when Dany Heatley one-timed a wobbly pass from Ryan Getzlaf past Craig Anderson. Both teams will advance to the elimination round, which begins Thursday.

Slovenia, with Anze Kopitar, plays Latvia this afternoon and most likely needs a victory to avoid being dropped to a lower division next year.

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USA 5, Kopitar 1

Officially, that’s USA 5, Slovenia 1. Anyone else sense a trend in these World Championships? I wonder if one player has ever scored ALL of the goals for his team in a major international tournament… I suppose it’s possible. Anyway, Dustin Brown and Patrick O’Sullivan had assists for Team USA, which next has a big showdown with Canada on Tuesday. Slovenia plays Latvia on Tuesday and probably needs a victory to avoid being relegated to the lower division in next year’s World Championships.

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Canada 5, Kopitar 1

The IIHF World Hockey Championships opened today, and Canada beat Slovenia 5-1 in a pool-play game in Halifax. Anze Kopitar scored the only goal for Slovenia. Kopitar’s father, Matjaz, is an assistant coach for Slovenia. The United States, with Dustin Brown and Patrick O’Sullivan, plays Latvia at 4:15 p.m. Pacific time.

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World championship warmup

Dustin Brown and Patrick O’Sullivan scored goals today, as the United States beat Sweden 5-1 in a World Championships warmup game in Maine. The U.S. opens play in the World Championships on Friday in Nova Scotia.

In other housekeeping news…be aware that there might be some issues with the blog today or tomorrow. We’re switching servers, which ultimately will be a great thing but there is the possibility of some short-term headaches. Just wanted to make everyone aware in advance.

Also, make your vote count in the poll. I’ll be passing along the results to Dean Lombardi. Maybe he will bow to the will of the people. Probably not.

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Player evaluation: O’Sullivan

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PATRICK O’SULLIVAN

This season: 82 games, 22 goals, 31 assists, minus-8 rating.

Positives: O’Sullivan’s improvements have been well-documented, and he deserves a ton of credit from transforming himself. Once a top prospect, he was in danger of falling out of favor with the Kings, but he worked himself into a role as a top-three forward. O’Sullivan developed into a strong defensive player and began to fulfill his great offensive potential.

Negatives: There’s a lot of excitement about O’Sullivan’s season, and rightfully so, but it’s wise to remember that he still has plenty of room to improve. This season was a strong start, and he should only get more comfortable playing alongside Anze Kopitar (if the Kings keep him there) but O’Sullivan will need to take another step forward next season.

Looking ahead: If O’Sullivan can continue on this upward path, the Kings have a keeper. After some initial questions, O’Sullivan proved himself to have a good attitude and a strong desire to win. He certainly has the ability to be a top-six forward for years to come.

Contract situation: Restricted free agent.

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Team award winners

Announced during the game by the Kings:

AS VOTED BY THE MEDIA
Most Valuable Player: Anze Kopitar
“Bill Libby Memorial Award” for Best Newcomer: Jack Johnson
“Mark Bavis Memorial Award” for Outstanding Defenseman: Jack Johnson
Defensive Player: Patrick O’Sullivan

AS VOTED BY THE KINGS PLAYERS
Most Inspirational Player: Dustin Brown
“Ace Bailey Memorial Award” for Unsung Hero: Jeff Giuliano

AS SELECTED BY THE KINGS CARE FOUNDATION
Community Service: Derek Armstrong

AS SELECTED BY THE KINGS BOOSTER CLUB
Most Popular Player: Dustin Brown

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