Nashville Predators v Los Angeles Kings

Smyth trade to Edmonton not done, Kings GM “I don’t think we’re closer”

The on-again, off-again deal that would send Ryan Smyth back to the Edmonton Oilers is (for the moment) off according to Kings general manager Dean Lombardi. The deal that was originally reported by TSN at the beginning of the first round at the 2011 Entry Draft on Friday would not be confirmed by the Oilers, nor the Kings.

Now we know why.

Apparently the major piece in the deal from the Kings’ point of view was not Gilbert Brule, but the cap space they’d save from buying Brule’s contract out as soon as he arrived in Los Angeles. Even though the Oilers have insisted that Brule has already been cleared to play, the Kings feel that certain assurances have not been made within the context of the trade. TSN’s Darren Dreger has the story:

“Sources say the Kings were willing to accept Brule as part of the deal with the intent of buying him out, however the collective bargaining agreement forbids teams from buying out an injured player.

Long after the conclusion of first round of the Entry Draft on Friday night, representatives from Los Angeles, Edmonton and the NHL engaged in a group discussion in an attempt to salvage the trade, but were unsuccessful.”

Clearly, this poses a significant problem for both sides. At this point, the Kings will continue to trade Smyth to a team somewhere closer to his home. Rumors before the announced trade had the Kings sending Smyth possibility to the Calgary Flames. Since the deal (as currently constructed) with the Oilers has fallen apart, Lombardi has already given a call to Flames GM Jay Feaster to rekindle talks with Edmonton’s rivals.

Even though the Kings are in the difficult position of being forced to trade one of their best wingers, Lombardi has insisted that any deal will have to work for both sides. Without the flexibility of a possibility of a possible Brule buyout, the Kings GM has stated the trade doesn’t make sense:

“To me, it was kind of simple, but it’s, OK, if something has to come back (to the Kings) to make this work, then there has to be certain things in place to allow me to run my (salary) cap. If they’re not in place, then this makes no sense. Because I have to replace this player. That’s the only urgency for me. I have to replace him. In order to replace him, whatever I’m taking back has to allow me full freedom to keep that (cap) space available. If that is not there, I can’t do this deal. And those conditions were not there. So there’s no deal.

“It makes no sense for me to lose this player and lose the flexibility. I need to replace him. That’s where it broke down. When it was clear that I couldn’t do what I needed to do with that player I’m taking back, then it’s not what the deal was based on, in any stretch of the imagination, and it certainly doesn’t make any sense for me.”

The Kings are to the point that they’ve all but guaranteed they’ll trade Smyth. Now we’re just waiting to find out where he’s going, when it’s going to happen, and who’s coming to southern California. Obviously there’s plenty more to this story and we’ll keep you updated as the soap opera continues to unfold.

Kesler believes Ducks are ‘too good to not be in the playoffs’

Shane Doan, Ryan Kesler
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It’s been 24 games for the Anaheim Ducks, more than a quarter of the season, and still they’re having trouble winning.

Friday against Chicago, they surrendered two goals in the last two minutes of regulation and lost in overtime.

Currently, the Ducks sit five points out of a playoff spot with a record of 8-11-5.

Still, forward Ryan Kesler is confident they’ll find a way into the postseason.

“If we keep playing like we are, we’re going to get into the playoffs — this team is too good to not be in the playoffs,” Kesler told The Province ahead of tonight’s home game versus Vancouver.

“We had a bad start and, to be honest, some guys weren’t ready to start the season. There’s a lot of hockey to be played and we’re ready for the challenge.”

To match the 45-30-7 record the Flames squeaked into the playoffs with last year, the Ducks would need to go 37-19-2 over their next 58 games.




Depends who you ask.

Anaheim’s playoff chances will depend a lot on how Pacific Division teams like San Jose, Arizona, and Vancouver finish. The Ducks may need to leapfrog two of those three to get in.

Yes, there’s always the chance four teams from the Pacific qualify, because it’s not like Colorado, Winnipeg, and Minnesota don’t have their problems. Even Nashville you have to wonder about lately. Heck, even Chicago isn’t assured of anything yet.

Bottom line, though, the Ducks have dug themselves a hole, and it’s starting to look a lot like the one the Kings dug last year.

In the NHL, even good teams don’t always climb out.

Related: Boudreau does the playoff math, and it’s no ‘easy task’ for Ducks

Video: Ryan Suter doesn’t seem very happy with his coach


As you can see in the video, apparently Ryan Suter doesn’t like being paired with fellow lefty Jonas Brodin.

The Wild defenseman rather openly questioned the coaching staff’s decision-making today after practice.

“Yeah, I don’t know what they’re thinking,” said Suter. “I need to play with a right-handed defenseman. To give me more options. Neutral zone. Offensively. And even coming out of the D zone, it’s not fair to put a guy on his off side.”

Suter didn’t know if the pairings were just for practice or not. The Wild play tomorrow in Chicago. Minnesota has just one win in its last seven games.

Suter also had something to say about that.

“It does no good to pout and get pissed off at each other,” said Suter. “You’ve got to come together and dig out of this. Now’s when you need leadership more than ever. It’s easy to be a coach and a leader when things are going good.”

Yeo, by the way, has not been very happy with the Wild lately.  In fact, one could go so far as to say he’s been acting pretty “pissed off.”

For example, at today’s practice:

The Star Tribune has more on what went down today.

Yeo, you may recall, went a little “nuts” during a Wild practice last season.

Goalie nods: Sparks to make NHL debut for Leafs

Garett Sparks

We already knew this yesterday, but in case you missed it, Garret Sparks will make his NHL debut in goal for the Toronto Maple Leafs tonight against Edmonton.

Sparks, 22, has been excellent in the AHL this season, going 8-2-1 with a .938 save percentage. He spent most of last season in the ECHL, where he also posted good numbers.

Sparks is getting the nod tonight because James Reimer is hurt and Jonathan Bernier has been struggling badly.

“He’s got an opportunity like lots of kids have had before him and it’s up to him to grab it,” Leafs coach Mike Babcock said, per “He’s got the [second-best] save percentage in the AHL and he’s winning all the time down there. Obviously we’re in need of some saves and we’ll have to play well in front of him for sure. But it’s an opportunity for him.”

Bernier, meanwhile, will have to sit and watch. The 27-year-old has allowed at least four goals in four of his last five starts. His save percentage has fallen all the way to .888.

Anders Nilsson will be in net for the Oilers.


Cam Ward for the Hurricanes. Henrik Lundqvist for the Rangers, who will try not to rely on him so much.

Semyon Varlamov for the Avs. Thomas Greiss for the Isles.

— The Canucks aren’t saying if it’ll be Ryan Miller of Jacob Markstrom. For the Ducks, it’ll be John Gibson.

Vigneault: ‘After three losses in a row, I think we’ve got everybody’s attention’

Alain Vigneault

Alain Vigneault has maintained for much of the season that the New York Rangers needed to play better.

The head coach said it a week ago, after the Blueshirts had beaten the Predators, 3-0, despite getting outshot, 31-19.

He’d said it a couple of weeks before that, after they’d beaten the Hurricanes in very similar fashion. (Final score: 3-0. Shots: 33-23 for Carolina.)

But as long as the Rangers kept winning, it was tough, according to Vigneault, to get the message across.

“Sometimes, the results might be going your way, so when you’re pointing out certain things, it might be a little bit more challenging for them to understand because the results are so positive,” Vigneault said, per the New York Post.

“But after three losses in a row, I think we’ve got everybody’s attention.”

Derek Stepan‘s injury — he’ll miss 4-6 weeks with broken ribs — has no doubt captured their attention as well. (Oscar Lindberg will center Chris Kreider and Jesper Fast tonight at home to Carolina.)

The Rangers also play Wednesday, in Brooklyn against the Islanders (on NBCSN).