Carolina Hurricanes

Still no deal between Williams and cap-strapped Kings

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Kings forward and reigning Conn Smythe winner Justin Williams said in mid-January he wanted to stop new contract talks until the offseason — but it sounds like he and the Kings didn’t leave those discussions in a very productive place.

“They have respected our position of leaving negotiations until after the season,” Williams’ agent, Thane Campbell, told ESPN this week. “That being said, they have obviously not accepted our most recent contract position.”

Williams, 33, is in the last of a four-year, $14.6 million deal with a $3.65M annual cap hit. While his points-per-game average has dipped steadily over the last five seasons, he’s still on pace for around 20 goals and 40 points and remains one of the most productive postseason players in the league, having won three Stanley Cups while racking up 78 points in 115 career playoff games.

But it sure sounds like he and Campbell aren’t ready to budge off their latest offer.

Back in January, Campbell basically said what he told ESPN this week, explaining that the plan was to hold off on negotiations… but adding that, if L.A. was to accept their demands, Williams would sign immediately.

“Our intention is to leave negotiations until after the season,” he said. “However, if they accepted our current position at any time, the deal would get done. We are not removing our last offer from the table and I believe they understand our position has little flexibility.”

The Kings and GM Dean Lombardi have been very active recently, re-signing Jordan Nolan (three years, $2.85 million) and Kyle Clifford (five years, $8 million). Lombardi also acquired Andrej Sekera from Carolina and questions have already been asked about Sekera signing an extension, not unlike what Marian Gaborik did following his trade from Columbus.

Sekera and Williams won’t be the only Kings needing a new deals this summer. Jarret Stoll will go unrestricted on July 1, and prized rookies Tyler Toffoli and Tanner Pearson will become RFAs.

‘There’s a shot’ Pearson (broken fibula) returns to Kings before playoffs

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The Kings made their big trade deadline splash yesterday, acquiring defenseman Andrej Sekera from Carolina, but that might not be L.A.’s lone enforcement for the playoffs.

Rookie scoring sensation Tanner Pearson — who still sits eighth among first-year players in goals (12) despite breaking his fibula in early January — could return to the Kings prior to the end of the regular season.

“It’s possible,” Kings GM Dean Lombardi said, per Mayors’ Manor. “We’ve seen that with a lot of these young kids. They get better fast. He’s been working really hard. That’s one thing about being young, they seem to heal quicker.

“Barring any complications, which I don’t foresee right now with the way he’s progressing, I think there’s a shot.”

Pearson, 22, suffered the injury in a game against the Jets and quickly underwent surgery. The initial timetable for return was three months, at which point head coach Darryl Sutter speculated Pearson wouldn’t be available until the opening round of the playoffs.

“Basically, after the injury, we just looked at it like he was done for the year,” Sutter said, per LA Kings Insider.

Getting Pearson back would be a huge boon for the Kings. He was a standout performer during last year’s Stanley Cup championship, scoring 12 points in 24 games as part of “That 70s Line” with Jeff Carter and fellow rookie Tyler Toffoli.

Lombardi happy to get ‘one of the better defenseman on the market’ in Sekera

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Dean Lombardi knows he paid a fairly hefty price to get Andrej Sekera from the Carolina Hurricanes. Yesterday’s trade cost the Kings’ GM a first-round pick and 19-year-old prospect Roland McKeown.

But according to Lombardi, it was a fair price, given the market.

“Certainly I would say at this point, unless there are some surprises, this was one of the better defensemen on the market,” Lombardi said, per LA Kings Insider.

“This is a reflection that he’s not only a good player, but that there’s not a lot of them out there.”

With Sekera and also Cody Franson, traded by Toronto to Nashville, no longer available, the market for rental defensemen has become even thinner than it already was. Jeff Petry. Zbynek Michalek. Jan Hejda. Those are among the top names. Maybe Kimmo Timonen is available, but he hasn’t even played a game this season.

“I don’t think you’re going to see an overwhelming number of top-four guys who are going to be available, period,” said Lombardi.

“But, I’ve been wrong. We’ve seen bigger names move in the past.”

Related: Habs reportedly offered ’13 1st-rounder McCarron to Coyotes for Michalek

Report: Habs offered ’13 1st-rounder McCarron to Coyotes for Michalek

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Interesting nugget here from venerable NHL scribe and Hockey Hall of Famer Jim Matheson, per the Edmonton Journal:

The Canadiens covet [Edmonton d-man Jeff] Petry to play with Alexei Emelin on a second defence pair in the wide-open East, where there is no clear-cut Cup contender threat. They may not want to deal their two young defencemen, Nathan Beaulieu or Jared Tinordi, in any deal for Petry.

They reportedly have offered their 2013 first-round pick, winger Michael McCarron to the Coyotes for the shutdown D [Zbynek] Michalek.

The proposed move makes sense to a certain degree. McCarron, the 25th overall pick at the ’13 NHL Entry Draft, was a disappointment in his first year in the OHL (with London) and was cut from the U.S. Team for the 2015 World Juniors.

But McCarron is still only 19 years old and, with his tantalizing size (6-foot-6, 225 pounds) still has plenty of value as a prospect. That would seemingly fit with the direction Arizona has taken lately, as the club is shifting towards a youth movement and plans to ship out some veterans prior to, or at, Monday’s trade deadline.

(And if you consider the asking price for Andrej Sekera — who, granted, might not be just a rental for Los Angeles — a prospect could be the asking price for Michalek.)

One final thing to consider: Michalek has been sidelined recently with an upper-body injury, believed to be a concussion. That could greatly affect what teams are willing to spend on the 32-year-old, especially since he’s a pending UFA on July 1.

GM Cheveldayoff to Jets: ‘We’re all-in’

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For most of his tenure with the Winnipeg Jets, general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff has been fairly passive when it comes to making trades. Even his recent Evander Kane blockbuster only happened after an alleged incident with Dustin Byfuglien.

So while the Jets’ decision to acquire forward Jiri Tlusty from Carolina on Wednesday in exchange for a third-round pick and conditional sixth rounder might be just the kind of move you would expect from a team in the hunt for a playoff spot, it is particularly noteworthy given Cheveldayoff’s history.

Cheveldayoff doesn’t want to put too much pressure on Tlusty, but he did view this as more than just a means to fill a void left by Mathieu Perreault’s significant lower-body injury.

“It is a message to the room that we’re all-in, here,” Cheveldayoff said.

The question now is if Cheveldayoff will chose to emphasize that message further by pulling the trigger on anything else. Getting Tlusty certainly helps, but the Los Angeles Kings and Minnesota Wild have bolstered their rosters as well and that’s likely just the beginning for the Jets’ rivals as we still have five days of trading left.

With a 31-20-11 record, the Jets have a four-point edge over the Minnesota Wild in the battle for a playoff spot. That being said, Winnipeg has also played in two more games.