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Visnovsky re-signs with Kings

Times Staff Writers

The Kings secured another piece of their long-range plan Wednesday when they signed defenseman Lubomir Visnovsky to a five-year extension worth $5.65 million a season.

Visnovsky, 31, said he is glad to make a long-term commitment to the Kings, who selected him in the fourth round (118th overall) in the 2000 draft.

“I’m very happy to get this done because it gives me a chance to focus on the new season,” Visnovsky said from his off-season home in Slovakia on Wednesday night. “I’m also very happy to be staying in L.A.... The Kings gave me my first chance and it’s the team I want to stay with.”

Visnovsky, who ranks fourth all time in goals (62), assists (176) and points (238) among Kings defensemen, missed 13 games last season because of injury, but he still finished with 18 goals and 59 points in 69 games.

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It’s this type of scoring punch that makes Visnovsky so valuable.

“Whenever you’re building a team, you’ve got to have defensemen that have an offensive dimension and can make plays,” General Manager Dean Lombardi said.

“He’s been a King from day one, which is important, and when you have a quality player like him, it’s important to keep your own. I think that signifies a commitment to continuity. I think players like Lubo make all of the players around him better because of the way he plays.”

Visnovsky, who played in his first NHL All-Star game last season and earned a reported $1.9 million, likes the off-season moves the Kings have made.

“The organization has made some good changes,” Visnovsky said, adding that there is a good chance to make the playoffs.

With veteran Rob Blake, Visnovsky and free-agent signees Tom Preissing and Brad Stuart, the Kings have a solid group of defensemen to rotate. But Visnovsky noted the Kings had signed free-agent forwards and fellow Slovakians Ladislav Nagy and Michal Hadzus, who has played alongside Visnovsky in international competition.

“I’ve played with Michal since world juniors and he’s a real good forward,” Visnovsky said, " ... and Nagy is ready to score a lot of goals for us.”

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The Kings signed forward Scott Parse to a two-year entry-level contract. Parse, 22, played in 40 games last season for the University of Nebraska Omaha and had a team-high 52 points.

NHL schedule

For the first time, the Ducks and Kings will open the 2007-08 season against each other -- and in London, another first, with games Sept. 29-30 at O2 Arena.

The games were planned long ago by Kings owner AEG, which also owns the new arena.

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The Ducks will continue on the road at Detroit, Columbus and Pittsburgh before playing their home opener Oct. 10 against Boston, where they will raise their Stanley Cup championship banner.

The Kings’ home opener is Oct. 6 against St. Louis.

Following a game against the Kings at Staples Center on Jan. 24 and the All-Star game in Atlanta on Feb. 27, the Ducks will embark on an eight-game trip that includes games against Philadelphia, the New York Islanders, New York Rangers and New Jersey.

The Ducks also play host to Ottawa on March 3 in a rematch of the Cup finals to cap a season-high eight-game homestand.

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The Kings will have a six-game homestand from Jan. 1-12, which includes a visit by Toronto on Jan. 10, and an eight-game trip from Jan. 29-Feb. 12.

Both teams will play home games against teams in the Northeast Division and visit each team in the Atlantic Division.

Every NHL team will again play 10 games outside their conference.

lonnie.white@latimes.com

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eric.stephens@latimes.com


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