What do the Buffalo Sabres, Carolina Hurricanes and Edmonton Oilers have in common?
The three teams are in the “Connor McDavid Derby,” the right to pick No. 1 in June’s entry draft, with the chance to bring a generational-type talent into the franchise fold.
Of course, that’s very much in the future. There’s plenty of losses and bumps to go before the suspense of the NHL’s draft lottery.
But those three particular teams, other than being mired at the bottom of their respective divisions, shared something else in 2014 — all managed to defeat the visiting Kings. The Sabres and Hurricanes did so in regulation and the Oilers in a shootout Tuesday night.
The Kings’ upcoming road games are against teams above .500 — Vancouver on Thursday, San Jose on Jan. 21, Boston on Jan. 31. The Kings have four road wins this season — against Dallas, Minnesota, Arizona and Ottawa.
There has been one goal by a Kings forward on this trip and it came from none other than forward Tyler Toffoli. He has a team-leading 12 goals, recording his latest on a slick breakaway effort against Calgary on Monday.
Much was made about Anze Kopitar’s slump, and the skilled center responded before the Christmas break with three points in the last three games.
Speaking of slumps, captain Dustin Brown has not scored in 12 games, rookie left wing Tanner Pearson in nine, right wing Justin Williams in seven, center Jarret Stoll in 12 and center Mike Richards in 15.
Meanwhile, the ice time of Williams has been dropping, hitting a level he hasn’t experienced since an injury-marred 2009-10 season. In Edmonton, he played a season-low 10 minutes 28 seconds, and 1:12 of that came on the power play. His previous season-low was 12:21 at Dallas on Nov. 22.
Vancouver forward Jannik Hansen was fined $5,000 on Wednesday by the NHL’s Department of Player Safety for an illegal check to the head of San Jose forward Tommy Wingels in the second period Tuesday. The $5,000 fine is the maximum allowable under terms of the collective bargaining agreement.
KINGS AT VANCOUVER
When: 7 p.m. PST Thursday.
On the air: TV: Fox Sports West, Radio: 790.
Etc.: The Canucks started well, slipped of late, but recorded a significant road win at San Jose on Tuesday night, defeating the Sharks, 3-1. Two former Kings, Brad Richardson and Linden Vey, have 18 and 14 points, respectively.