Two days after an uninspiring performance versus San Jose, the Los Angeles Kings will be getting an injection of youthful enthusiasm tonight versus Arizona.
Coach Darryl Sutter confirmed today that Jordan Weal will make his NHL debut at Staples Center.
“It’s really exciting,” Weal told LA Kings Insider. “A lot of work has gone into getting to this part of my career, and the hard work’s just going to continue. It’s going to keep going, and I’m trying to do as much as I can in this game and keep improving from this game moving forward in trying to solidify a solid spot in the lineup.”
The 70th overall pick in 2010, Weal had 69 points in 73 games last season for AHL Manchester.
The $3.7 million cap hit represents a nice pay bump for Despres, who’s in the last of a two-year deal that pays $900K annually. A former first-round pick, Despres was acquired by the Ducks from Pittsburgh at last year’s deadline in exchange for Ben Lovejoy, a move that was widely questioned.
Probably because the guy that made it, Pens GM Jim Rutherford, admitted it was a mistake.
“If I had a chance to make that trade today, as we speak, I wouldn’t make it,” he told the Tribune-Review in late May. “I knew at the time, over time, the trade would certainly be in Anaheim’s favor. But at the time we made it, and the reasons we made it for, I still feel it was the right thing to do.”
Despres, 24, has shown well in Anaheim since the deal.
He had six points in 16 games last year while averaging just under 19 minutes per night, and was a big part of the club’s run to the Western Conference final, scoring seven points in 16 playoff games with his TOI going over 20 per.
Lovejoy, meanwhile, looks like he’ll be a bottom-pairing guy on a Pittsburgh defense that isn’t especially deep. He played just 16:28 in Thursday’s season-opening loss to Dallas; only Brian Dumoulin played less.