Not quite like Gretzky: Kings loading up for new season with former Oilers

Building a team to be a potential Stanley Cup threat can be a tricky affair. You have to mix in your homegrown talent, trade acquisitions, and free agents and hope that your head coach can put the puzzle together to be a success for 82 regular season games as well as a long playoff haul that, hopefully, winds up with 16 victories at the conclusion while the team captain skates the Cup around the ice when it’s all said and done.

For Kings GM Dean Lombardi, his offseason has seen him put together a new Kings roster that’s seen him dump homegrown and drafted talent like Brayden Schenn and Wayne Simmonds in favor of young experience in Mike Richards. He’s also helped his team’s depth by signing former Oilers captain Ethan Moreau. While Moreau figures to be an experienced grinder for the Kings, he’s not the only former Oiler on the roster.

Dubiously, the Kings also added Colin Fraser in the deal that sent Ryan Smyth back to Edmonton. While Lombardi filed a formal grievance over that deal since Fraser is injured, former Oilers like Matt Greene and Jarret Stoll have been mainstays in Los Angeles since coming over in the deal that sent Lubomir Visnovsky to Edmonton back in the summer of 2008. Dustin Penner was brought in at the trade deadline to give Anze Kopitar another big winger capable of scoring goals and he’ll get a chance to show that his poor performance since joining the Kings was just a fluke.

Greene, Moreau, and Stoll all played together in Edmonton on the Oilers Stanley Cup finals team in 2006 while Penner joined them after winning the Cup with Anaheim in 2007. All four players were teammates on the 2007-2008 Oilers that finished three points out of a playoff spot in the Western Conference. While these guys have chemistry together in different ways, having them join up on a team that, at times, looked awfully tough to beat will make for an interesting experiment. The one thing that can be said about these 2011-2012 Kings is that they know what it’s like to go all the way.

Take a look at what their forward lines and defensive pairings could shape up to be for this season:

Dustin Penner-Anze Kopitar-Justin Williams

Simon Gagne-Mike Richards-Dustin Brown

Kyle Clifford-Jarret Stoll-Brad Richardson

Ethan Moreau-Trevor Lewis-Kevin Westgarth

Drew Doughty-Willie Mitchell

Jack Johnson-Rob Scuderi

Matt Greene-Alec Martinez

The Kings will have other options to use at forward like Fraser, Scott Parse, and Andrei Loktionov with Davis Drewiske on defense as well. With Williams they have a guy who won the Cup with the Hurricanes against those Oilers in 2006 and with ex-Flyers Gagne and Richards, they’ve got guys who lost to Chicago in the Cup finals in 2010. Willie Mitchell was on the Minnesota Wild when they were swept out of the Conference finals in 2003 by Anaheim while Rob Scuderi was an instrumental piece to helping the Pittsburgh Penguins win the Cup in 2009.

When you look at all these acquisitions individually, it might make you scratch your head. After all, four guys from an Oilers team that went nowhere doesn’t look so hot. Throwing them all in the mix together with a host of guys that have won it all or lost in in the finals and you’ve got a team built to be tough and to go deep into the playoffs.

While we’ve seen the Los Angeles-Edmonton connection once before very famously in the Wayne Gretzky trade of 1988, this time around it’s a lot less profile and a bit more dubious. One thing is for sure, Lombardi hopes his L.A.-Edmonton connection can do something Gretzky never could for the Kings: Win the Stanley Cup.

Wild GM is hopeful prized prospect Kirill Kaprizov will join Minny for 2018-19 season

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With rumors on social media suggesting prized Wild prospect Kirill Kaprizov has agreed to terms on a long-term deal in the KHL, Minnesota’s general manager Chuck Fletcher has decided to clear the air.

The Wild selected Kaprizov, a five-foot-nine-inch tall forward, in the fifth round of the 2015 NHL Draft.

He had 42 points in 49 regular season games in the KHL this year — promising, if not impressive numbers for the now 20-year-old Kaprizov. He also lit up the 2017 world juniors, with nine goals and 12 points in seven games.

He was recently traded to CSKA Moscow. Despite reports of this long-term deal to stay in Russia, Fletcher, speaking to the Minneapolis Star Tribune, seemed confident the Wild will be able to bring Kaprizov into their lineup for the 2018-19 season.

From the Minneapolis Star Tribune:

“We’ve been in contact with his agent over the last couple weeks and we haven’t been made aware of anything like you’re communicating to me,” Fletcher said. “We’re operating under the assumption he’s got a year left. He’s going to play for CSKA, and then he’s interested in coming over and playing for the Wild for the 18-19 season. He’s a heckuva player. I think he’ll be ready to step in and be a good hockey player for us a year from now. That’s our expectation and our hope. We haven’t been notified of anything to the contrary.

“There was a rumor a few weeks ago of something to this effect, too, and his agent shot it down and said it wasn’t true. It’s just been communicated to us that he’s going to play for CSKA another year, and our hope he’s going to suit up for the Wild in 18-19.”

There has also been a recent report that it’s expected former Sabres general manager Tim Murray will join the Wild.

Fletcher also shot down that report for right now, saying it wasn’t “accurate,” although his full comments didn’t completely shut the door on the possibility of such a scenario happening further along down the road.

“We’ll see what the future brings, but right now, that’s not true at all. There’d be a lot of hoops and hurdles there, and it’s not even a good thing to speculate on because there’s nothing true to that at all right now. That’s not true at all.”

Related: Wild owner confirms Fletcher safe as GM

AP sources: Capitals to host Maple Leafs in outdoor game at Naval Academy

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Two people with knowledge of the situation say the Washington Capitals and Toronto Maple Leafs will play an outdoor game at the Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland, next season.

The people spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity Saturday because the NHL had not announced the event. The game is scheduled to be played March 3 at the 34,000-seat Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium that hosts Navy football games.

It will be the first NHL outdoor game at a U.S. service academy, though quite possibly not the last. The league has explored doing games at the Army’s home at West Point and at the Air Force Academy.

It’s the third outdoor game for the Capitals and Maple Leafs and the first in the Washington area since the 2015 Winter Classic downtown at Nationals Park.

Capitals-Maple Leafs at the Naval Academy will be one of at least three outdoor games next season. The Ottawa Senators will host the Montreal Canadiens in the Heritage Classic on Dec. 19, and the New York Rangers and Buffalo Sabres will play in the Winter Classic on Jan. 1 at Citi Field in New York.

NHL Network revealed on air that the league would announce a game at Navy on Monday.

Trio of Red Wings prospects ‘making a statement’ in AHL Calder Cup playoffs

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The Detroit Red Wings saw their playoff streak come to an end earlier this spring, but their farm team in Grand Rapids continues its postseason run, qualifying for the Calder Cup final.

The Griffins clinched a spot in the championship series with a 4-2 win against the San Jose Barracuda on Saturday.

It has been during this playoff run that a trio of prospect forwards seem to have left quite an impression on Detroit’s coaching staff, led by Jeff Blashill.

Tomas Nosek, Tyler Bertuzzi and 2015 first-round pick Evgeny Svechnikov have all been productive for the Griffins throughout this AHL postseason. This could help put them into the conversation for NHL roster spots in the fall, and present something of a youth movement in Detroit after years and years of chasing the playoffs.

Nosek is the oldest of the three at 24 years of age. Bertuzzi is 22 years old, and Svechnikov is only 20.

“I don’t know what all the pieces will be for us next season, but certainly Nosek made us confident he can be an effective NHL player,” said Blashill, according to the Detroit Free Press.

“Bertuzzi and Svechnikov, they are making a statement as well. They are becoming elite players in the AHL playoffs, and those are statements you want to make. We’ll look at them in camp and make our decisions based on who is going to make us better.”

The team’s general manager, Ken Holland, has in the past expressed his hesitation about a full-on rebuild, but after missing the playoffs, the Red Wings have an important few weeks ahead of them and the future of their franchise. They currently have the ninth overall pick in the NHL Draft following April’s lottery, and, after a busy trade deadline, four third-round picks, according to CapFriendly.

With six picks in the first three rounds, and 11 picks in total, Detroit should be able to help further stockpile their organization with a number of promising young prospects. It’s been suggested that the areas of concern for the Red Wings heading into the draft are up the middle and on the blue line.

Up front, all three aforementioned forwards — Nosek, Bertuzzi and Svechnikov — spent some time with the Red Wings this past regular season. Nosek and Bertuzzi each improved their overall point totals this season compared to 2015-16, and have been able to maintain a point-per-game pace in the playoffs. In Nosek’s case, he’s just over a point per game. Svechnikov had 20 goals and 51 points in 74 regular season games — his first full AHL campaign.

“Certainly part of us getting better next year is the young people on the (Red Wings) taking a step,” Holland told MLive.com. “And, hopefully, there is a player or two or three here that can push their way onto the team.”

Coyotes’ Rieder undergoes ankle surgery, expected to be out 8-12 weeks

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Tobias Rieder underwent ankle surgery after suffering an injury at the recently concluded World Hockey Championship, the Arizona Coyotes announced on Saturday.

Per the Coyotes, the operation was successful and he is expected to make a full recovery. However, the 24-year-old right winger is expected to be out eight to 12 weeks, as he goes through rehab.

With that timeline, he should be ready for training camp in September.

For the second straight year, Rieder was injured while playing for Germany in the IIHF tournament. Initially, it was reported that the Coyotes didn’t believe this latest injury was serious.

This past season, Rieder scored a single-season career best 16 goals in 80 games. He’s about to enter the final year of his two-year contract, which has an annual cap hit of $2.225 million.