Kings’ Brayden Schenn has no structural damage in knee
The best news that might emerge from the Kings’ rookie camp arrived Friday, before the first prospect took the ice in El Segundo.
According to General Manager Dean Lombardi, an MRI exam performed Friday on the knee of prized prospect Brayden Schenn showed no structural damage, leaving Schenn’s status day to day.
Schenn, a contender to center the second line, hurt his knee Tuesday while practicing with his junior team. The mishap sparked rumors he would be out weeks or months, which apparently isn’t true. Lombardi said Schenn will continue treatment and rehabilitation and will be reevaluated daily.
The rookie camp will feature two practices a day through Monday before the Kings send a team to Phoenix for two rookie games against the Coyotes. The Kings’ Hockey Fest will take place Saturday and will feature autograph signings, panel discussions and a question-and-answer session with Lombardi and other club executives.
During that session Lombardi will have a chance to explain his pursuit of free agent Ilya Kovalchuk, who turned down the Kings’ $80-million, 15-year offer to sign with the New Jersey Devils for $102 million. And sign with the Devils again, for $100 million, after his first contract was voided.
Kings fans debated whether Lombardi was improving or endangering the franchise — and then whether failing to land Kovalchuk was a betrayal or a blessing. Those are questions only time can answer.
As far as Lombardi is concerned, his biggest question was answered Friday with the upbeat report on Schenn.
“The key is no structural damage,” Lombardi said. “There’s a chance of him skating the first day, but he’s not going to know how it feels until he gets out there.”
Injuries will prevent defensemen Colten Teubert (thumb) and Viacheslav Voynov (shoulder) from participating in rookie camp, tough luck for them with at least one roster spot available while Matt Greene recovers from shoulder surgery.
But that will give Thomas Hickey, the fourth overall pick n 2007, and free agent Jake Muzzin greater opportunities to win a job.
Lombardi said Hickey, plagued by shoulder and ankle injuries last season, is ready to make an impact. “He’s had a great summer, and with the commitment he’s made he’s given himself a chance,” Lombardi said.
Among the forwards, Schenn, 2009 second-round pick Kyle Clifford and smallish center Andrei Loktionov are expected to get long looks in rookie camp.
“The hard part about projecting is there’s always some surprises and always some disappointments,” Lombardi said. “If someone had asked me two years ago if Wayne Simmonds would make the team I’d have said they were crazy.”
The Ducks, trying to rebound from a non-playoff finish and the retirement of defenseman Scott Niedermayer, are facing many questions as their rookie camp opens Sunday in Penticton, Canada.
Their biggest headache is re-signing restricted free agent winger Bobby Ryan. Their conflict is over length more than money — he wants short, they want long — and negotiations seemed to bog down late in the week after a revival.
Speedy winger Emerson Etem of Long Beach and fellow 2010 first-round pick Cam Fowler, a promising defenseman who has a chance to open the season with the Ducks, highlight the roster for the five-team, round-robin tournament. The Ducks need some good news out of it or could face a long season.