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.
The only Kings players wearing gray jerseys, Justin Williams and Scott Parse had a whole forward line to themselves Monday.
Call it the “Questionable Line.”
It’s too soon to say whether Williams or Parse will play when the Kings visit the San Jose Sharks on Thursday for Game 1 of their first-round playoff series. The prognosis was looking better for Williams in his return from a dislocated shoulder.
“My strength is up to par and everything,” he said after taking part in a full practice that included light contact. “I just need to get comfortable out there and not think about it and just see how it progresses throughout the week. If I go out there and I’m timid, I’m not going to do it. We’ll just take it slowly and, if it happens, great. It’s really tough sitting out playoff games, I know that, but I’ll try my best.”
Williams, whose 57 points and 35 assists (in 73 games) were second on the team, has not played since sustaining the injury March 21 against Calgary.
“I’ll get into some more intense battling this week and we’ll go from there,” he said. “The coach and I and the training staff will make a decision about whether I can go or not.”
That collective sigh coming from El Segundo tomorrow morning will signal the end of the Kings’ brief layover in Southern California. After spending three full days at home, the last two of which included morning practices, it’s off to Pittsburgh and arguably the Kings’ toughest road trip of the season.
The six-games-in-10-days stretch includes games against four of the top seven teams in the Eastern Conference (plus the Islanders and the Blue Jackets).