Milan Lucic, as expected, signs with Edmonton
All the talk about NHL belt tightening and cost containment turned out to be just that — talk.
The action started early on the opening day of NHL free agency — think Black Friday at the mall — and by the time the first hour passed, teams had spent $335 million on free agents.
As expected, free agent power forward Milan Lucic signed with the Edmonton Oilers on Friday, a seven-year deal worth $42 million. Helping the Oilers edge the likes of Montreal was the presence of Edmonton’s star-in-the-making, Connor McDavid, and General Manager Peter Chiarelli, who had been Lucic’s GM in Boston.
Last year’s acquisition of Lucic proved costly to the Kings. Not only did it involve sending backup goalie Martin Jones to Boston (who was later flipped to San Jose) but they also gave up a prospect and a first-round pick in the 2015 draft.
Because of salary-cap constraints, the Kings added players around the fringes, the most prominent being Teddy Purcell, a former King who started last season in Edmonton and finished with the Florida Panthers as a trade-deadline rental.
Purcell, 30, signed a one-year deal worth a reported $1.6 million, according to reports, and will get a chance to revive his career where it began nearly a decade ago.
The Kings additionally signed a backup goalie, two depth defensemen and a marginal forward (Michael Latta), who played in 43 games for Washington last season. Tom Gilbert is a defenseman who appeared in 45 games last season for Montreal, recording two points and averaging nearly 17 minutes of ice time. Gilbert, a right-handed shot, is a considered a competent passer and puck mover.
The other addition on defense is Zach Trotman, who had seven points in 38 games for the Boston Bruins last season and averaged 18-plus minutes of ice time. Kings Assistant General Manager Rob Blake noted Trotman’s strengths, via email: “Right shot with upside.” Gilbert’s deal was $1.4 million for one year, and Trotman’s one-year agreement was for $650,000.
The goalie is a familiar figure who started his career with the Kings’ organization, Jeff Zatkoff. TSN reported he signed a two-year deal worth $900,000 per season. Zatkoff was drafted by the Kings in 2006, played for their minor league affiliate and has appeared in 35 NHL games, all with the Pittsburgh Penguins.
The Kings opted not to buy out the contract of veteran defenseman Matt Greene, according to the team’s hockey operations department. They put him on buyout waivers Thursday with the aim of possibly clearing salary cap space. Kings GM Dean Lombardi said in a previous interview with The Times that a Greene buyout was only an option but didn’t mean the club was going to take that route.
“Even though we have space this year, we’re cognizant that we’ve got to be careful,” Lombardi said of the Kings limited salary-cap space. “You want to try to keep that upper tier together. Every time we sit down, it enters into the equation. There’s a lot of moving pieces.”
Defenseman Jamie McBain, who played parts of two seasons for the Kings, agreed to a one-year, two-way contract with the Arizona Coyotes.
Among the more prominent moves league wide: Bruins forward Loui Eriksson went to the Vancouver Canucks, St. Louis forward David Backes to the Boston Bruins, New York Islanders forward Kyle Okposo to the Buffalo Sabres and Chicago forward Andrew Ladd to the New York Islanders.
The loss of the two Blues, Backes and Troy Brouwer, who went to the Calgary Flames, created openings and needs for St. Louis. The Blues promptly signed Ducks forward David Perron to a two-deal worth $7.75 million. It was something of a homecoming for Perron, who started his NHL career with the Blues.
“My heart has always been in St. Louis,” Perron told Jeremy Rutherford of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “I took it very hard when I got traded, had some pain.”
Two other Anaheim forwards also departed: Jamie McGinn signed with the Arizona Coyotes and Chris Stewart went to the Minnesota Wild. Goalie Anton Khudobin, who appeared in nine games with the Ducks this past season, signed with the Bruins.
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