Smyth gets his wish; Kings get Fraser.

Ryan Smyth’s trade request was granted and the 35-year-old left wing is an Edmonton Oiler once again.

In return, the Kings receive forward Colin Fraser and a seventh-round pick in the 2012 Entry Draft. Lombardi said Saturday that he wanted to acquire a player whom he could send to the minors, buy out or trade, so keeping Fraser would not appear to be high on the Kings’ wish list.

In Fraser, the Kings receive an energy-line forward who topped out with seven goals and 19 points in 2009-10, his second NHL season, for the Stanley Cup-winning Chicago Blackhawks. Fraser dipped to three goals and five points in 67 games for the Oilers last season. In 224 career NHL games he has 16 goals, 41 points and 168 penalty minutes.

According to, the Kings can buy out Fraser at a cost of $275,000 over two seasons.

Smyth, whom Lombardi said requested a trade home about two months ago, heads back to the city he called home from 1994-2007. The Alberta native scored 23 goals last season –third on the team — and his (long anticipated) departure gives the Kings their most pressing need to fill when free agency begins July 1.

Smyth is scheduled to have a conference call in Edmonton at 4 p.m. today.

Update: Dean Lombardi said that Fraser has a chance to be with the Kings in training camp and beyond. More from Lombardi in tomorrow’s editions.

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Ryan Smyth update.

The trade that would have sent Ryan Smyth to Edmonton for Gilbert Brule and a draft pick, reported as complete at one point Friday, is off.

Dean Lombardi told reporters Saturday in Minnesota that talks broke down when it became clear to the Kings’ GM that the proposed trade wouldn’t leave him enough cap space to sign a replacement for Smyth, a 23-goal scorer last season.

Lombardi didn’t get into the specific reasons why — the NHL prohibits general mangers from tampering with players under contract to other teams — but he offered some general reasons.

Given the four choices he had with the player (Brule) he was reportedly acquiring — playing him, trading him, buying out his contract or sending him to the minors — “I have to have the last three,” Lombardi said. “I’m losing Ryan Smyth here, a 20-goal proven scorer. I’m not going to get that back from any team I’m dealing with.”

Lombardi went on to say that “it’s not a money issue. Whether it’s a two-way or a one-way contract, your ability to buy out or waive, there’s certain things that have to be in place to keep that ability in place.”

That explanation seems to agree with a report on that Brule, who missed 41 games last season due to injury and illness, is still injured and therefore unable to be bought out by the Kings under the terms of the NHL’s collective bargaining agreement.

Lombardi said he’d rather not be stuck with playing Brule. “I’d rather go to the marketplace and say, ‘OK,’ like the deal I have with the other team, I’ll go and get it,” he said.

Smyth, an Alberta native, requested a trade home, so Lombardi’s “other team” is presumed to be the Calgary Flames.

This could all change by the end of the day. For now plan on reading more, along with a recap of the Kings’ draft picks, in tomorrow’s editions.

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San Jose 4, Kings 3, OT.

“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.

The hot-button issue after the game was the absence of Terry Murray and any Kings coaches in the postgame handshake, as described here and here.

I put a request out to the Kings for comment. Like the obituary, it may have to wait.

A few factoids for now:
Continue reading “San Jose 4, Kings 3, OT.” »

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Sharks 6, Kings 3.

Maybe you had forgotten about Anze Kopitar, but Terry Murray hasn’t.

The question after Thursday’s Game 4 loss was fairly innocuous –can any lineup changes be made at this point, down three games to one? — but the answer was revealing.

“I’m playing what I’ve got,” Murray said. “Kopitar’s not coming back, guys. He’s got a broken leg.”

Well, yeah. We knew that.

Maybe the more important question is, why can’t the Kings play defense all of a sudden?

They scored twice in the final nine minutes of the second period to spoil Antti Niemi’s shutout and pull within 3-2 heading into the final frame.

Yet just as the wheels came off in the second period of Game 3, when San Jose erupted for five goals to erase a 4-0 Kings lead,there was Joe Thornton and no one else, alone in the slot with all the time in the world to score the Sharks’ fourth goal.

“That was a big goal for us,” San Jose forward Logan Couture said. “That gave us the confidence back, the swagger we have on the ice.”

The Sharks scored the next two goals to make it a 6-2 game, and the verdict was unsealed: It was going to take a miracle for the Kings to save this series.

Catch all the game details in tomorrow’s editions. Here are a few notes that won’t make the paper. Some more notes and observations:
Continue reading “Sharks 6, Kings 3.” »

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Playoff adversity: Nothing new to Kings’ veterans.

Ryan Smyth has been there before.

It was Game 1 of the 2006 Stanley Cup Finals, his Edmonton Oilers against Justin Williams’ Carolina Hurricanes. The Oilers led 4-1 after two periods in Raleigh before losing 5-4. The series went the full seven games before Carolina won.

“It really set the shifting of that game, in my opinion, in their favor,” said Smyth, one of the Kings’ veteran leaders, with Williams sitting a few feet away in the team’s locker room after practice. “But we battled hard. We stayed in the series. We obviously pushed it to (Game) 7.”

Willie Mitchell has been there before, too.

Down three games to one to the Colorado Avalanche in the 2003 playoffs, his Minnesota Wild won three straight to advance to the second round.

“Sometimes individuals have to go through that in order to know how to handle it,” the Kings defenseman said. “The roles have been reversed the other way. We won 4-0 up in San Jose, it was the same thing. It’s a learning experience for some guys on this team who haven’t been through that.”

The Kings’ 6-5 loss to the San Jose Sharks in Game 3 of their first-round series Tuesday was nothing new to several of the teams’ veterans. The Kings, Chicago Blackhawks and Nashville Predators are the youngest teams participating in the playoffs (average age: 26.9).

Head coach Terry Murray complimented the older players Wednesday, when the Kings went back practice trying to put Tuesday’s debacle behind them.
Continue reading “Playoff adversity: Nothing new to Kings’ veterans.” »

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Sharks 6, Kings 5, OT.

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.”
Continue reading “Sharks 6, Kings 5, OT.” »

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Kings 3, Ducks 2.

Willie Mitchell picked a good time to score his second goal of the season.

His long slapshot, off a perfect drop pass from Justin Williams, found its way through a screen at 6:45 of the third period and broke a 2-2 tie at Honda Center. The split crowd of 17,174 voiced its mixed emotions, and the Kings clinched their sixth win in the final game of a 10-game road trip.

Anze Kopitar scored his second goal in his last 16 games, Ryan Smyth scored his 20th goal of the season, and the Kings get to come home (even though they’ve been at home the last three days) to play Minnesota tomorrow night.

Here’s the game story and here are a few details I left out:
Continue reading “Kings 3, Ducks 2.” »

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Off-day notes on Ryan Smyth, Drew Doughty, Ray Emery.

While the rest of his teammates did nothing to pad their stats, Drew Doughty was busy stealing goals from Ryan Smyth on Thursday.

Doughty was credited with his fifth and sixth goals of the season Thursday, and Ryan Smyth had his 20th and 21st goals of the season taken away, after the NHL decided that Smyth did not, in fact, deflect Doughty’s shots into the Edmonton Oilers’ net Wednesday.

Michal Handzus and Anze Kopitar are now getting the secondary assists on Doughty’s goals. Smyth goes from a two-goal night to a zero-point night. He is now mired in a two-game point drought.

Speaking of Doughty, check out this interview Taylor Hall did with TSN after last night’s game, completely downplaying the “rivalry” with Doughty that apparently is not on.

J.P. Barry, the agent for goaltender Ray Emery, said that “three or four” teams are kicking the tires on his client, who is attempting a comeback from major hip surgery that ended his 2009-10 season. The Kings are not one of those teams.

Asked in a text message this morning if the Kings had any interest in Emery, general manager Dean Lombardi replied with a simple “no.”

Although the 28-year-old Emery would seem like a bit of a risk, and the Kings have both of their young goalies under contract through 2012-13, it’s a worthwhile question. When Erik Ersberg bolted for the KHL in October, the Kings were left with no other goalies in the system with prior NHL experience. That’s a trait that NHL teams covet in their “third goalie”; assistant GM Ron Hextall said as much in an October interview. If Jonathan Quick or Jonathan Bernier went down with an injury, the most logical replacement within the organization would be Martin Jones, who turned 21 last month. Jones is having a fine season (17-5-1, 2.17 GAA, .930 save %) with Manchester and recently appeared in the AHL All-Star Game. Perhaps he’s inspired enough confidence this season to earn that emergency call-up without a second guess.

The Ducks (who are in the same position goalie-wise as the Kings) are known to be interested in Emery.

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Kings 3, Edmonton 1.

The Kings found a way to get a win, and a point in a fourth straight game, against an Edmonton Oilers team that left no excuse for a letdown.

Ryan Smyth was credited with two goals after replays showed enough evidence that his wooden stick got a piece of two deep Drew Doughty blasts. Jack Johnson had the other goal, and Jonathan Quick turned in an acrobatic (if not technically perfect) 32-save effort.

Whether this was a notable turning point for the offensively challenged Kings, or merely a solid road win against a bad team, will be revealed over the course of the nine straight road games that await.

For now, it’s worth noting that the Kings had to come from behind after a Magnus Paajarvi goal gave the Oilers (15-27-8) a 1-0 lead at 3:21 of the second period. They did so on the strength of a previously weak power play.

Smyth answered with his first goal 24 seconds later – five seconds into a power play – and scored again on the Kings’ next power play at 9:47, sliding across Nikolai Khabibulin’s field of vision as Doughty released a shot.

The Kings finished 2-for-4 on the power play after going 1-for-28 with the man advantage in their previous 10 games. Doughty finished with two primary assists and Johnson had two secondary assists, along with his deep blast past Khabibulin at 14:52 of the third period.

Edmonton went without a power-play goal in five chances against the Kings, falling to 3-for-26 on the man advantage in its last six games. Before that, the Oilers did not score a power-play goal in 11 games. It was the type of game the Kings were hoping for, if not expecting.

A few more notes:
Continue reading “Kings 3, Edmonton 1.” »

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