Dean Lombardi,

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.

Struggling Sabre Tyler Ennis out with upper-body injury

Tyler Ennis, James Wisniewski
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Tyler Ennis can probably relate with the Buffalo Sabres’ opponent on Wednesday, as he’s struggling almost as much as the Nashville Predators.

Perhaps some of that has to do with health?

Whether that’s the case or not, Ennis is out for the Sabres tonight, as the team announced that he’s dealing with an upper-body injury.

The Buffalo News discussed Ennis’ struggles in this article.

“I’d say he’s pressing too much. You can’t make those plays in every situation and in every point you touch the puck,” Dan Bylsma said to the Buffalo News. “ … He’s just got to simplify his game. He is a special player who can make those plays, but he can’t be trying to do it every time he touches the puck.”

He’ll need to wait a while to start getting things together, anyway.

WATCH LIVE: Wednesday Night Rivalry (Flyers-Islanders; Blackhawks-Sharks)

Ryan White, Matt Martin
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You can check out tonight’s Wednesday Night Rivalry doubleheader on NBCSN, and you can also stream them online.

Here are the handy links for the two contests.

First, the New York Islanders host the Philadelphia Flyers.


After that, the Chicago Blackhawks visit the San Jose Sharks.


Braun out with upper-body injury; Zubrus to make Sharks debut

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The San Jose Sharks will be missing a top-4 defenseman tonight when they host the defending champs from Chicago.

Justin Braun has an upper-body injury. His status is considered day-to-day.

“Brauny has been one of our unsung heroes here through the first quarter of the season,” coach Peter DeBoer told CSN Bay Area. “He’s played some outstanding hockey. So, we’re going to miss him, but it’s a great opportunity for Mueller and Tennyson and one of these guys to establish themselves. It’s a great opportunity for us to reward Dillon for how well he’s played.”

Against the Blackhawks, Brenden Dillon will take Braun’s spot on the top pairing alongside Marc-Edouard Vlasic; Paul Martin and Brent Burns will stay together on the second pairing; and 20-year-old Mirco Mueller will skate with Matt Tennyson.

Mueller has played just four games for the Sharks this season. In his last game, Thursday in Philadelphia, he received only 9:13 of ice time.

Also tonight, new Shark forward Dainius Zubrus is expected to debut on the fourth line.

Related: Sharks sign Zubrus, because DeBoer

Johansen calls trade rumblings ‘weird,’ says relationship with Torts is ‘great’

Ryan Johansen
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One day after reports surfaced of Ryan Johansen being at the center of trade talks, all parties involved from Columbus did what they’re supposed to do — downplay the situation.

You can read the denials in full over at the Dispatch, but here’s the gist:

— Johansen said the rumors were “weird” and that he’s “never seen it before.” He also said there were no issues between him and head coach John Tortorella, calling the relationship “great.”

— GM Jarmo Kekalainen wouldn’t address the report, nor would Johansen’s agent, Kurt Overhardt.

— Johansen added he hasn’t spoken to any of Columbus’ management about the trade rumblings.

So there’s that. What’s next?

At this stage of the game, it’s hard not to think about another Overhardt client, Kyle Turris.

Turris, you’ll recall, spent four (mostly) stormy years with the Coyotes before his trade out to Ottawa was orchestrated. Turris eventually told GM Don Maloney “this is not going to work out” with the club, and he was gone.

So, consider the similarities now:

— Turris was 22 at the time of the trade, with four years and 137 games under his belt.

— Johansen is 23, with five years and 291 games.

— Both had contentious contract holdouts with their respective clubs.

— Both are Overhardt guys.

— The Turris trade happened after the Coyotes went from Wayne Gretzky to Dave Tippett as head coach.

— Johansen is already on his third head coach (Scott Arniel, Todd Richards, Tortorella).

For now, these are all coincidences (or a forced narrative, depending what you think of the author).

And, of course, the one big — big — difference between the two is that, at the time of his trade, Turris wasn’t as good or established a player as Johansen currently is. Therefore, logic suggests any Johansen trade would be a lot more blockbuster-y and, therefore, probably more complex.

And as we know, complex deals aren’t easy to pull off.