Kings go out shopping but spend nothing
It wasn’t as if the Kings didn’t try to be one of the teams to reach headline-making deals on the first day of the NHL free-agency signing period. It just did not turn out that way.
The Kings’ phones were as busy as any team in the league, but in the end, the club fell short in its effort to lure some of the top free agents who signed long-term lucrative deals Sunday.
Two of them, forwards Scott Gomez and Chris Drury, were high on the Kings’ list but both players turned them down to sign with the New York Rangers.
“There are three type of players when you deal with free agency,” said Kings General Manager Dean Lombardi before the signing period began. “There’s fillers, there are bridges and then there are builders.”
Gomez, 27, and Drury, 30, are considered builders who decided to be part of the core of the Rangers instead of the Kings. Gomez signed a seven-year, $51.5-million contract (including $10 million next season), and Drury agreed to a five-year, $35.25-million deal (including $7.1 million each of the next two seasons).
“It’s pretty exciting,” Rangers General Manager Glen Sather said. “We ranked them both as Nos. 1, and we never expected to get both of them.”
The Kings also missed out on Daniel Briere, who left Buffalo to sign an eye-opening, eight-year, $52-million deal with the Philadelphia Flyers. Briere’s deal, which includes a no-movement clause, will average $6.5 million a season against the salary cap, with the first year paying him $10 million, including a $5-million signing bonus.
“I’m not a big fan of using this market [to build a team],” Lombardi said last week of the Kings, who had a team salary of $40,680,000 last season and so far have $27 million committed in salary for the 2007-08 season.
So now it’s Plan B for the Kings, who hope for better luck with the limited number of unsigned free agents still available.
In other NHL moves, forward Ryan Smyth of the New York Islanders signed with the Colorado Avalanche in a five-year, $31.25-million deal. Colorado also signed San Jose defenseman Scott Hannon to a four-year deal worth $18.4 million.
Other Islanders who are moving include forward Jason Blake, who signed with Toronto in a five-year, $20-million deal; forward Viktor Kozlov, who agreed to a two-year contract worth $5 million with the Washington Capitals, and defenseman Tom Poti, who also signed with the Capitals in a four-year deal worth $3.5 million per season.
Detroit signed New Jersey defenseman Brian Rafalski to a five-year, $30-million contract.
Forward Yanic Perreault, who played with Phoenix and Toronto last season, signed a one-year contract for $1.5 million with Chicago.
Atlanta signed Minnesota forward Todd White to a four-year, $9.5-million contract and Tampa Bay forward Eric Penn to a two-year deal worth $1.5 million. The Thrashers also re-signed forward Pascal Dupuis to a one-year deal.
San Jose was able to hang on to forward Joe Thornton, signing him to a three-year, $21.6-million contract extension that keeps him with the club through 2011.
Dallas signed defenseman Sergei Zubov to a one-year extension worth $5.35 million, keeping him with the Stars through 2009.
The St. Louis Blues signed left wing Paul Kariya to a three-year contract worth $18 million. Kariya, 32, was the leading scorer the last two seasons for the Nashville Predators.
Times wire services contributed to the report.