Where will Matt Moulson land?

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Since 2009, only seven players have scored 135 goals or more and as of today, only two have the potential to go to free agency.

One is Jarome Iginla — today’s UFA of the Day — who said he wants to return to Boston. The other?

Matt Moulson.

Moulson, a three-time 30-goal scorer, could be on his way to July 1 after splitting last season between the Islanders, Sabres and Wild. Agent Wade Arnott told PHT on Thursday there’s “nothing to report regarding Matt and the Wild at this time,” which suggests the 30-year-old might be ready to go to market.

If so, it promises to be an interesting trip.

Last week, Oilers GM Craig MacTavish noted “‘it’s a good year to be a UFA.” The free agent market isn’t overly deep and in terms of goalscoring wingers, Moulson is competing with the likes of Iginla, Thomas Vanek and Mike Cammalleri at the top of the class.

That’s big for Moulson as he seeks what could be the biggest payday of his professional career. A former ninth-round pick — a round that doesn’t even exist anymore — Moulson never made more than $575,000 in a single season before his breakthrough 2009-10 effort, when he scored 30 goals and 48 points. That earned him a one-year, $2.45 million extension, followed by a three-year, $9.4 million pact the season following — good money, sure, but it’s crazy to think one of the NHL’s 10 best snipers over the last five years has never made more than $3.13 million in a single campaign.

That figures to change this summer, though the age-old question applies: Does Moulson want the payday, or a chance to compete for a Cup?

If it’s the former, he should have some options coming his way. The Nashville Predators have cap space and want to add offense (GM David Poile said he’d move his first-round pick in exchange for a top-six forward). The Islanders (approximately $27 million in space) could get back in the mix and reunite Moulson with his longtime running mate, captain John Tavares.

If it’s the latter — Moulson’s 31 in November and has just 16 career playoff games — what about Los Angeles? If the Kings can’t agree to terms with Marian Gaborik, who might’ve priced himself out following his stellar Stanley Cup playoff, they could circle back to a familiar face. L.A. gave Moulson his debut in 2007 and he spent plenty of time in AHL Manchester playing with the likes of Trevor Lewis, Slava Voynov, Alec Martinez and Jonathan Quick.

Lots of options, but one thing is for certain: Moulson probably knows his exact value and where he stands in this UFA class. It’s not a difficult thing to figure out — just ask Wild GM Chuck Fletcher.

“Players have to decide whether they want to come back and then if they want to come back,” Fletcher said, per the Star-Tribune. “Usually the market is somewhat transparent.”

Milbury, Jones: Tkachuk walked the walk; Kings’ response was embarrassing

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The Los Angeles Kings got revenge on Matthew Tkachuk and the Calgary Flames on the scoreboard on Wednesday. But was that 4-1 win enough?

Mike Milbury and Keith Jones provided a lengthy “overtime” segment on NBCSN that brought about some really fascinating takes on the situation between Tkachuk and the Flames versus Drew Doughty and the Los Angeles Kings.

Watch the full video above, as it’s worth your time.

A few interesting lines if you’re (tsk tsk) skipping it:

Milbury: Believes that Doughty didn’t “do enough,” noting that star players sometimes have to stick up for themselves. On the other hand, Tkachuk showed that he can “walk the walk.”

He also gave the Kings a “C-, D+ if not worse” for their overall response. “Fight your own battles,” Milbury said of Doughty.

Jones disagreed to some extent, believing that Kings teammates won’t look at Doughty differently. But Jake Muzzin? He believes that Muzzin’s frequent defensive partner (at least over the years, maybe not this season) backing down from a fight was an embarrassment.

Spicy stuff.

For what it’s worth, Drew Doughty has one career fight (against Joe Thornton [!] in 2011-2) while Jake Muzzin’s lone bout came against Andrew Desjardins in 2012-13, according to Hockey Fights. Does that mean they shouldn’t have dropped the gloves on Wednesday? Milbury and Jones seem to believe that they should have answered the bell.

For more, check out a collection of the early violent moments and Tkachuk’s attempted shot at Doughty. The Kings win is summarized in greater detail here.

Measure of revenge: Kings delay clinching efforts for Flames, Blues

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Deep down, the Los Angeles Kings probably realize that their season will end on game 82. Still, they kept their slim playoff hopes alive on Wednesday night … and managed to spite a team they’re growing to hate.

OK, maybe the hate is almost totally focused upon Matthew Tkachuk, yet the disdain for that talented-but-tormenting rookie was palpable.

It didn’t feel like the Kings exacted physical revenge on Tkachuk, but beating his team 4-1 ranked as classic scoreboard vengeance. With that, the Calgary Flames (and by extension the St. Louis Blues) will need to wait to clinch a playoff berth.

Now, as much as tonight was about Tkachuk, the focus was also on a pugnacious player who once dazzled for the Flames: Jarome Iginla.

In what might be Iginla’s final visit to Calgary – at least as an active NHL player – he was one of the best players on the ice. His fitting curtain call included a “Gordie Howe hat trick” with a spirited fight, an assist and a goal.

Seriously, that fight with Deryk Engelland:

That goal included a bit of luck, but hey …

Iginla was named the first star of the contest, and cameras captured his big smile in enjoying a special night. For all the nastiness of that game, it was refreshing to see such a heartwarming moment.

For more on the violence, check out this post on the early stuff and this one on Tkachuk’s missed missile launch on Drew Doughty.

Kings and Canucks will square off in first NHL exhibition games in China

graphic via NHL
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It’s official: the NHL will hold preseason games in China before next season.

The league made the announcement on Wednesday night: the Los Angeles Kings and Vancouver Canucks will play two exhibitions: one on Sept. 21 (Shanghai) and Sept. 23 (Beijing). How cool is that?

“It is a privilege and an honor for the L.A. Kings to represent the National Hockey League in China as part of these two games against the Vancouver Canucks,” Kings president Luc Robitaille said. “Growing the game of hockey is something we take great pride in and it is a big priority for our hockey club and AEG as a whole. This will be a once-in-a-lifetime experience for our players and our staff, and we are looking forward to the games taking place in two tremendous facilities in two remarkable cities.”

The press conference inspired some jokes tonight.

Some of the best bits came in roping in … Kobe Bryant and David Beckham?

Alrighty then.

Click here for more details.

 

Video: Drew Doughty (mostly) avoids massive Matthew Tkachuk hit

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Hockey is such a fast sport that it’s probably not so easy to make someone your “target.” Instead, a big hit often comes down to the right combination of circumstance and timing.

Still, there’s no denying that Matthew Tkachuk is gunning for Drew Doughty (and the Kings are gunning for Tkachuk) on Wednesday.

Doughty isn’t oblivious to that notion, either, as you can see him avoid what looked like a pretty terrifying hit above.

We’ve already covered the early violence in this game, and it’s quite possible that there will be more carnage going forward. Stay tuned.