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Milan Lucic leaving the Kings after signing 7-year, $42-million deal with Oilers

Milan Lucic leaving the Kings after signing 7-year, $42-million deal with Oilers
Kings forward Milan Lucic skates with the puck while Jets defenseman Dustin Byfuglien defends him during the second period of a game on April 9. (Danny Moloshok / Associated Press)

The Milan Lucic era in Los Angeles officially came to an end on Friday as the free agent signed a seven-year deal worth $42 million with the Edmonton Oilers.

Other numbers to ponder: 81 games, 20 goals and 55 points in the regular season and a first-round playoff loss this past season for the Kings.

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Beyond that, the acquisition of Lucic was a costly gamble for the Kings. Not only did it involve sending backup goalie Martin Jones to Boston (who later was flipped to San Jose), but they also gave up a prospect and a first-round pick in the 2015 draft.

Lucic had said after the Kings' first-round loss to the Sharks that he was not inclined to explore free agency. But it is believed that term was a concern for the Kings as General Manager Dean Lombardi continued his due diligence. On Friday, Lucic in an interview with the Canadian TV network TSN (The Sports Network) made a reference to salary cap issues with the Kings.

The factors in Edmonton's favor, for Lucic, included the presence of Oilers young star Connor McDavid and GM Peter Chiarelli, who had been Lucic's general manager in Boston.

"Getting a chance to play with one of the best players that I've seen since I've been in the NHL is something that, as a player, is a lot to look forward to," Lucic said to TSN.

"Whether I'm on his line or not on his line, I think there's light at the end of the tunnel with him as far as winning. That's something that I wanted to be a part of. I know it's not going to happen overnight."

The Kings weren't in a position to make a big splash with the big names but were active in the second hour of free agency by signing a backup goalie and a couple of depth defensemen.

One was defenseman Tom Gilbert, who appeared in 45 games last season for Montreal, recording two points and averaging nearly 17 minutes of ice time per game. The other was a one-year deal for defenseman Zach Trotman, who had seven points in 38 games for the Boston Bruins last season and averaged 18-plus minutes of ice time per game.

Gilbert's deal was a reported $1.4 million for one year.

The goalie was a familiar figure — someone who started his career with the Kings' organization: the Pittsburgh Penguins' 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 Penguins.

Additionally, 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.

ESPN's Pierre LeBrun reported the Kings did so to take one last shot at keeping Lucic.

The Kings' Lombardi said in an interview with The Times on Thursday that a Greene buyout was only an option, but it didn't mean the Kings were going to take that route. Greene cleared waivers Friday.

There was plenty of additional activity in the first hour of free agency: 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. So it was something of a homecoming for Perron, who started his NHL career with the Blues.

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Two other Anaheim forwards also departed in the first hour of free agency: 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 Boston Bruins.

Twitter: @reallisa

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UPDATES:

11:22 a.m.: This article was updated with details about the Kings' signings in the second hour of free agency.

This article was originally published at 10:46 a.m.

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