The Los Angeles Kings trail 0-3 in a playoff series for the first time in 14 years, which probably explains why captain Dustin Brown — who debuted for L.A. in 2003 — is calling this his toughest time as a King.
“This is probably the most dire situation we’ve been in,” Brown said, per Mayors’ Manor. “It’s not only a test, but a learning experience.”
L.A. heads into Staples tonight on the verge of elimination to San Jose, a similar circumstance to the opening round of the 2000 playoffs, in which the Kings were down three games to none to the Red Wings — before eventually getting swept in Game 4.
To avoid a similar fate, the Kings are hoping the captain can provide a spark.
Brown will be moved to the club’s top line alongside Anze Kopitar and Marian Gaborik, head coach Darryl Sutter confirmed, and the hope is that Brown can provide a more physical element when matched up against San Jose’s red-hot first unit of Joe Thornton, Brent Burns and Tomas Hertl, which has combined to score nine points in the first three games.
“We’ve had trouble with the size of Burns and Thornton, quite honestly,” Sutter said, per CSN Bay Area.
Tonight will also provide Brown the opportunity to make amends for what’s been a forgettable season.
The 29-year-old scored just 27 points this season — his lowest total since notching five in 31 games as a rookie — and saw his ice time plummet to 16:50 per night. Through the first three playoff games, Brown hasn’t been much better. He’s scoreless against the Sharks thus far and his most notable scoresheet contribution came during a 7-2 loss in Game 2, when he racked up 12 penalty minutes.
Veteran forward Mike Santorelli, who’s appeared in over 400 NHL contests over the last eight years, is headed overseas.
Per multiple reports (see here and here), Santorelli has signed with Geneve-Servette of the Swiss League. The 30-year-old spent last season with the Ducks, scoring nine goals and 18 points in 70 games but didn’t dress for any of the club’s opening-round playoff loss to Nashville.
Santorelli broke into the NHL with Nashville but enjoyed his best years with Florida and Vancouver. He was a former 20-goal scorer with the Panthers and enjoyed a successful stint with his hometown Canucks in ’13-14, scoring 28 points in 49 games before suffering a season-ending shoulder injury.
Santorelli is the second veteran forward to sign in the Swiss League recently. Over the weekend, fellow journeyman Kris Versteeg agreed to join SC Bern.
Upon trading Kerby Rychel to Toronto at the draft for Scott Harrington, Columbus GM Jarmo Kekalainen said Harrington was “a guy we’ve watched for a while,” and a “steady, smart [and] good defender.”
Which makes today’s move none too surprising.
On Monday, Kekalainen announced Harrington signed a one-year, two-way deal (financial terms weren’t disclosed). The contract comes after Harrington split last season between the Leafs and the AHL Marlies, appearing in 15 NHL contests.
While Kekalainen was high on Harrington, the most noteworthy thing about the acquisition is it ended a long-running saga with Rychel, the 19th overall pick in 2013. There were repeated rumblings that Rychel wanted out of town, and felt stifled by Columbus’ reluctance to make him a full-time NHLer.
For a while, Kekalainen stood firm in the face of the reports, once openly wondering where they came from. But in the end, the decision was made to part ways with the 21-year-old, the son of ex-NHLer Warren Rychel.
As for Harrington, he should compete for a spot on the Columbus blueline next season. Right now he projects to be the No. 7 or 8 guy, assuming that super prospect Zach Werenski is primed for a full-time gig in the NHL, firmly entrenched in the Blue Jackets’ top six.
In other news from Columbus today, the club has also agreed to terms with AHL forward Alex Broadhurst.
One of the pieces acquired in last summer’s Brandon Saad blockbuster, Broadhurst was a key contributor to AHL Lake Erie’s Calder Cup championship this past spring, finishing second on the club in playoff assists.
Over the weekend, reports suggested that Toronto and RFA blueliner Frank Corrado were close to agreeing to a new contract.
On Monday, the two sides sealed the deal.
The Leafs announced they signed Corrado to a one-year contract, with Sportsnet reporting it to be a $600,00 pact, of the one-way variety.
Corrado, 23, was scheduled to go to arbitration tomorrow. His ask was $900,000, while the Leafs countered with a $625,000 figure on a two-way deal, and $575,000 on a one-way.
So Toronto was nearly spot-on with its valuation.
The former Canucks draftee took a while to make his Leafs debut last season — he sat 28 games after they claimed him off waivers — but when he did get into the lineup, he fared reasonably well. Corrado finished with a goal and six points in 39 games, averaging 14:27 TOI per game.
This marks the second player Toronto avoided going to arbitration with. Prior to signing Corrado, the Leafs inked center Peter Holland to a one-year, $1.3 million deal.
The Philadelphia Flyers are hoping Brayden Schenn hasn’t finished improving. The former fifth overall draft pick signed a four-year, $20.5 million contract today, after posting career highs in goals (26) and assists (33) in 2015-16.
It took a few years for Schenn, 24, to start justifying his draft position. John Tavares, Victor Hedman, Matt Duchene, and Evander Kane were selected with the first four picks that year. Oliver Ekman-Larsson was taken sixth overall.
So there was pressure.
“I think sometimes when you draft a player top five you tend to think he’s going to develop a little quicker than other guys,” Flyers GM Ron Hextall said Monday, per Flyzette. “When you look at Brayden, has he been a fast developer? I would say probably no. Has he been a slow developer? I would say probably no. He’s probably been average.
“The good thing is he’s gotten better every year and he’s a hard worker. He’s starting to figure out the intricacies of the game. He obviously had his best year to this point so hopefully he continues to build on that.”
Hextall reportedly danced around a question about Schenn being part of the “core” group, so there’s still some proving to be done. The Flyers have already committed long-term to forwards Claude Giroux, Jakub Voracek, and Sean Couturier. Wayne Simmonds and Michael Raffl have three years left on their deals, and Dale Weise signed a four-year agreement on July 1.
As for Schenn, he knows he needs to justify the Flyers’ trust in his ongoing development.
“I feel like I keep getting better and better,” he said. “I expect nothing else next year.”