Bud Holloway signs in Sweden.

The Manchester Monarchs will have a new leading scorer next season.

Skilled right wing Bud Holloway has signed with Skellefte AIK of the Swedish Elite League for 2011-12. The restricted free agent declined the Kings’ qualifying offer, at least temporarily ending his tenure with the team that drafted him in the third round of the 2006 draft.

Both this season (28+33=61) and last (19+28-47), Holloway led the Kings’ American Hockey League affiliate in scoring. He helped the Monarchs reach the Eastern Conference Final series in 2010, tying an AHL record with six game-winning goals in a single postseason (out of the seven goals he scored).

But in three pro seasons, the 23-year-old from Wapella, Saskatchewan never got the NHL call-up he desired. He joins Corey Elkins and Oscar Moller on a short list of Kings prospects who have left for Europe this summer.

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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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Brief Monday practice notes.

Jarret Stoll and Ian White were texting each other over the weekend. Stoll was suspended one game by the NHL for hitting White into the end boards Thursday, which resulted in the Sharks defenseman missing Game 2 himself with a head injury.

“We just chatted a couple times,” said Stoll. “He appreciated the text and me reaching out to him. I wanted to make sure I did that, let him know I didn’t want to hurt him in any way.”

Heck, they could have discussed the incident in the press box at HP Pavilion (although it’s worth debating whether climbing several flights of stairs to watch a hockey game being played more than 100 feet below you is recommended for anyone coming off a head injury).

Stoll and White can continue their conversation on the ice Tuesday at Staples Center, when the Sharks and Kings clash in Game 3 of the first-round playoff series.

White told reporters Monday in San Jose that he’s feeling well enough to play. Among the Sharks’ better point-producing defensemen, a healthy White could cause the Kings some trouble. But Stoll was understandably relieved at the news that White had returned to practice.

“That’s good to hear,” he said. “From the start, there wasn’t any intent to go in and hurt the guy. I know him a little bit, playing against him in junior. I know he’s a good guy.”
Continue reading “Brief Monday practice notes.” »

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Kings 4, Sharks 0.

The Kings did not so much as steal a win Saturday, as they did dominate in such a fashion that makes you wonder why they can’t win every night.

After converting their first two power plays of the game –amazing what that can do for a team –the Kings were able to do what they do best: Play conservative, defensive hockey and give Jonathan Quick a fairly easy path to a 34-save shutout.

Drew Doughty was the offensive catalyst, scoring two goals and assisting on the other two, and tying a franchise record for most points in a playoff game by a defenseman. Paul Coffey was the first Kings defenseman with four points in a playoff game.

“It was a very big win coming into this building in game 2,” Kings head coach Terry Murray said. “We were a little short with key players out of the line-up. That requires a really competitive attitude by everyone that’s playing. Guys have to really dig in and play hard for each other and I think that’s the competitive spirit that our team has shown many, many times over the last few years.”

With Jarret Stoll serving a one-game suspension for his Game 1 hit on Ian White (who was replaced in the Sharks’ lineup by Niclas Wallin), Oscar Moller and Trevor Lewis were the primary beneficiaries of the minutes at center. Moller played 10:37, finishing plus-1, while Lewis played 17 minutes.

Kyle Clifford and Jack Johnson each had a goal and an assist for the KIngs, who were outshot 34-23.

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Kings 4, San Jose 3, shootout.

The short version: Puck dropped, Oscar Moller debuted, Kyle Clifford returned, the penalty-kill streak ended, the power-play streak ended, Willie Mitchell scored, Ryane Clowe chirped, Patrick Marleau fooled Jonathan Quick, Dustin Brown answered, Antti Niemi exited, Marleau fooled the entire defense with 4.1 seconds left in regulation … overtime, shootout, Dan Boyle scored, controversy ensued, Jarret Stoll scored, Quick save, Quick save, Quick save, Brown goal, Quick save, game.

Just another night in the NHL.

“I’m not disappointed and I’m not surprised that stuff like that happens,” Terry Murray said after another gut-wrenching, 65-plus minutes of hockey. “I’m watching games in this league right now and it is incredible what’s happening late in games, overtimes, shootouts.”

My early story, which some of you will find in your newspaper tomorrow, has plenty of details on Moller’s first NHL game in more than three months. “For the first game in a long time here, he was really good,” said Murray, who went on to compliment Moller’s composure and puck-moving skill on the power play.

Some of you will find my late story, which has plenty of game details — in complete sentences, no less.

The Sharks were happy to get the point, which allowed them to match Detroit at 95 points (though the Wings have a game in hand). The Kings sit five points back with 90 points, three points behind second-place Phoenix and three points ahead of the final Western Conference playoff berth.

Some additional notes, courtesy of the Kings’ PR staff:
Continue reading “Kings 4, San Jose 3, shootout.” »

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Moller interview

Here’s my interview with Oscar Moller from after today’s practice. Moller is definitely making a strong impression. I asked a team official today if Moller was going to make the team, and he said of Moller, “He’s making it tough on us.” If you’re a young player fighting for a roster spot, that’s what you want to hear… For those who need updates on tonight’s game against Colorado, I’ll do my best to provide live updates throughout the game. It is available on 1150-AM, with the audio also streamed on the Kings’ site. Here’s Oscar…
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Prospect evaluation: Moller

Oscar Moller
DOB – 1-22-89
Chilliwack (WHL)
– Reg season: 39 goals, 43 assists (82 points), 42 PIM
– Post season: 2 goals, 1 assist
Manchester (AHL)
– Post season: 1 assist

McKeen’s Hockey.com on Oscar Moller:

“He’s an undersized, highly skilled prospect who plays a strong all-around game,” described one scout. “He’s good behind the puck, he’s good with the puck, he’s solid defensively. He’s got a great shot, probably his best attribute.” While he’s quite courageous for his size on most occasions, he can be a little inconsistent in his effort. “He’s not very big,” added another scout. “Sometimes he doesn’t come out with maximum energy level.” If Moller were two inches taller and had an extra gear, he’d be a surefire top-15 pick. “He is oozing with character and leadership qualities,” gushed one head scout after the scouting combine. “He lacks speed; otherwise he’s a top-end pick.” The one thing scouts just can’t overlook however is average speed in a small package, no matter how much character the player may have. Thus Moller may not be a top 30 pick, although he’s close given his skills and drive.

(Moller goals at 2:04 and 2:40)

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