Kings, Ducks not expected to be major players in free agency

A few teams will throw millions of dollars at prized free agent Brad Richards when the NHL’s free agency period begins Friday at 9 a.m., but the Kings said they plan to focus on “mid-range” wingers and the Ducks intend to look for third- and fourth-line help.

Kings General Manager Dean Lombardi is well-positioned to delve into the free-agent market because he has more than $16 million in salary-cap space next season, though a large chunk of that will go toward re-signing restricted free-agent defenseman Drew Doughty. Other teams can sign Doughty to an offer sheet, but the Kings would have the right to match any offer and it’s certain they would.

Lombardi said that in acquiring center Mike Richards from Philadelphia last week for Brayden Schenn and Wayne Simmonds the Kings had “made our big move.” But the departure of Simmonds, a right wing, and Ryan Smyth, a left wing who wanted to return home to Edmonton, will push Lombardi to at least wade into the market.

“We won’t be a major player,” he said.


The Kings aren’t likely to re-sign winger Alexei Ponikarovsky, an unrestricted free agent, but their plan for unrestricted free-agent defenseman Peter Harrold is unclear. If they re-sign center Michal Handzus, he would have to accept a limited role given the Kings’ new depth up the middle.

Ducks General Manager Bob Murray said he won’t re-sign unrestricted free agents Jarkko Ruutu, Brad Winchester, Andreas Lilja and Ray Emery. Unrestricted free-agent right wing Teemu Selanne, who will be 41 on Sunday, underwent arthroscopic surgery last week and postponed a decision on his future until later this summer.

Emery helped the Ducks reach the playoffs after starting goaltender Jonas Hiller developed vertigo symptoms, but he remains something of a risk. If he isn’t signed by mid-July, Murray said he might look at Emery again.

Murray also said Hiller has improved. “He left a message for me the other day and said he’s doing great,” Murray said.