Los Angeles Kings

Is it too early to get excited about Crosby vs. Ovechkin again?

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Yes, we’ve been in this spot before.

For all the star power that the NHL boasts outside of Pittsburgh and Washington, it’s difficult to resist the siren call of a spike in the Sidney Crosby – Alex Ovechkin rivalry. It’s perfectly plausible that we’ll never get a sequel to that memorable 2009 playoff series.

With that disclaimer out of the way, let’s be honest: it’s been a while since the Penguins and Capitals were in a better position collectively to pull this off.

Serious firepower

It’s still strange to picture Phil Kessel in a Penguins uniform, firing home well-placed passes from Crosby and/or Evgeni Malkin … but would it be that outrageous to imagine Kessel chasing Ovechkin in the Maurice Richard race now? As excited as Crosby and Malkin seem to be about the acquisition, Kessel and hockey fans should be especially thrilled.

Here’s the wrinkle that makes things even more fun: while the Penguins added the biggest name, Washington’s moves likely provide the Capitals with a deeper array of weapons.

Beyond the obvious in Nicklas Backstrom, the Caps now combine seasoned newcomers (Justin Williams and T.J. Oshie) with promising youngsters (Marcus Johansson, Evgeny Kuznetsov and Andre Burakovsky) to form a frightening forward group.

Hockey’s a team sport, and Crosby – Ovechkin can only be so riveting on their own … so how about Crosby, Malkin, Kessel and Kris Letang vs. Ovechkin, Backstrom, Williams, Oshie and Washington’s bevvy of pricey blueliners? Yeah, that sounds like appointment viewing.

While they’re still young

NHL TV Awards Show
via Getty Images

As strange as it sounds, the window might be closing on this rivalry, at least as a true showcase of two players who are seriously considered two of the best alive.*

Ovechkin will turn 30 on Sept. 17, and his hair is already looking a little grayer these days. Crosby turns 28 in August and people are already wondering if he’s starting to slow down.

No, the Penguins and Capitals haven’t totally mortgaged their futures this summer, yet the complexion of each franchise changed in some resounding ways in the past few days. You never know what might happen – we’ve been fooled before – but it’s tough not to picture an epic 2016 playoff series between these two players (and teams).

If nothing else, it’s fun to think about.

* – One could quibble about where the two rank among the elite, but they’re at least up there, right?

PHT Morning Skate: Columnist says Kings should part with Voynov

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PHT’s Morning Skate takes a look around the world of hockey to see what’s happening and what we’ll be talking about around the NHL world and beyond.

Helene Elliott of the Los Angeles Times believes that the Kings should either trade Slava Voynov or terminate his contract, regardless of how everything ultimately shakes out with the league and law enforcement. (Los Angeles Times)

Speaking of departing Kings, The Royal Half bids Justin Williams a fond farewell. (The Royal Half)

Paul Martin’s heartfelt goodbye letter to the Pittsburgh Penguins (and fans) is a great read. It also might leave you yelling “Spumoni!” the next time you see Martin hemmed in his own zone. (Players’ Tribune)

How much better is Edmonton’s defense, really? (Oilers Nation)

Looking back at Martin St. Louis’ career. (Greatest Hockey Legends)

Steve Dangle views Phil Kessel’s time in Toronto as “an era wasted.” (Warning: you might want to turn your volume down before watching this.)

Speaking of Kessel, ouch:

Trade: Caps acquire Oshie from Blues for Brouwer, Copley and draft pick

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The Washington Capitals continue to load up.

After signing Justin Williams on Wednesday, the Caps have acquired T.J. Oshie from the St. Louis Blues in exchange for Troy Brouwer, goaltender Pheonix Copley and a 2016 third-round pick.

“T.J. is an outstanding skater with a tremendous skill set,” said Caps’ GM Brian MacLellan in a statement. “He is a powerful player and has consistent track record of production throughout his career in the NHL. We feel that he complements our core group nicely and can help us get to the next level in achieving our ultimate goal.

“We also want to thank Troy for his contributions to our organization on and off the ice and wish him well in St. Louis.”

Oshie has two years remaining on his five-year, $20.875 million deal, which carries a cap hit of $4.175 million. The 28-year-old had 19 goals and 55 points in 72 games last season.

With Oshie off the books, it gives Blues’ GM Doug Armstrong a little more room to work with in the on-going negotiations with restricted free agent forward Vladimir Tarasenko.

Brouwer, who has one year remaining on his three-year, $11 million deal, comes in at a cap hit of $3.6 million.

Copley went 17-4-3 in 26 appearances with the Hershey Bears in 2014-15 posting a 2.15 G.A.A. and a .925 save percentage. The 23-year-old was expected to challenge for the starter’s role in Hershey next season.

Related: Caps landing ‘affordable’ Williams a sign of the new free agency

Voynov remains suspended by the NHL after taking plea

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With Kings defenseman Slava Voynov taking a plea deal in relation to his to domestic assault charges, one of the questions raised was how it would impact his indefinite suspension from the NHL.

According to Rich Hammond of The Orange County Register, Voynov remains suspended.

“Nothing changes with regard to his status vis-a-vis the NHL. No timetables for next steps,” NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly told Hammond. “I imagine we will hear from the Player’s camp and the PA when they are ready to engage.”

The league suspended Voynov in October after he was arrested for domestic assault.

Given how the L.A. Kings handled the Mike Richards situation, it’ll be interesting to see how the club reacts to Thursday’s developments in the Voynov case.

The Kings released the following statement:

“We believe the legal system has effectively resolved this matter and the punishment is fair and just. Any act of domestic violence is unacceptable. As an organization, the prevention of domestic violence and the education of our players and employees is of paramount importance. We will continue to actively develop and implement a strategy to deliver this message. We remain steadfast in our support of the National Hockey League as they now begin their own investigative process. Until that is complete we will withhold further comment.”

The 25-year-old has appeared in 190 games over four seasons with the Kings scoring 18 goals and 81 points while averaging 21:15 in ice time. He played just six games during the 2014-15 season prior to his arrest.

Voynov takes plea, gets 90 days in jail plus probation

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Los Angeles Kings defenseman Slava Voynov will spend 90 days in jail and receive three years of probation after accepting a plea deal in relation to domestic assault charges.

On Thursday, Voynov entered a no contest plea to a misdemeanor count of corporal injury to a spouse — his wife, Martina Varlamova, who declined to make a victim impact statement.

More:

Per the OC Register, Voynov is to surrender no later than July 14 for jail time.

Today’s development nullifies Voynov’s felony domestic violence trial, which was to begin next week. In October, the Kings d-man was charged after an incident as his Redondo Beach house, with prosecutors alleging Voynov choked and hit Varlamova, and pushed her into a TV.

This doesn’t figure to be the end of the Voynov saga, though, as several questions remain:

— Will the Kings seek to void his contract, like they did with the Mike Richards deal?

— Is Voynov facing the possibility of deportation to his native Russia?

— Will the NHL lift his indefinite suspension?

More to follow…