If aging Kings seek hope, they only need to look to the Sharks


This is part of Los Angeles Kings day at PHT…

Look, the Los Angeles Kings are more or less stuck with what they have.

In some ways, that’s not such a good thing.

Dustin Brown bitterly gave up his captaincy, but his onerous contract is still on the books through 2020-21. Jeff Carter is 31, sometimes a scary age for a sniper. Marian Gaborik probably counts as “an old” 34, considering his troubling history of injuries.

The team is dragging along some problematic contracts, especially if you’re among those who believe that Jonathan Quick is overrated.

So, yeah, there are some problems.

On the other hand, the Kings only need to look to the team that booted them from the first round to see how quickly negative buzz can turn to a deep playoff run.

Many in the hockey world largely gave up on the San Jose Sharks, possibly expecting the team to blow up by trading aging stars like Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau. While the team was a pre-season favorite for ages, they weren’t atop many lists for 2015-16.

Perceptions seem a lot sunnier in San Jose after their surprising run to the 2016 Stanley Cup Final, older players and all.

Let’s take a look at a few other reasons for optimism in Los Angeles:

  • They’re not that old: Sure, there are signs of fatigue, but plenty of guys are at or near their prime ages.

Drew Doughty, somehow, is just 26. Anze Kopitar has plenty left in the tank at 28. Jake Muzzin remains worthy of more accolades at age 27, while Tyler Toffoli still has room to climb the ranks of forwards at 24.

Most of the team’s key players are veterans, but not GRIZZLED veterans.

  • The West isn’t necessarily at its best: Look, the Western Conference is still foreboding, yet it’s taken a slight step back.

The Blackhawks seem to suffer a painful loss or two every off-season. St. Louis made some tough free agent decisions. The Stars are paying more than $10 million for paltry goaltending, and so on.

It’s not outrageous to picture a scenario where the Kings win that battle of attrition.

  • They find a strange way of sneaking under the radar: Let’s not forget that the Kings ranked third in the Pacific Division heading into the playoffs before both of their Stanley Cup victories.

They went years without making the playoffs (2002-03 to 2008-09), went two straight postseasons in which they were booted in the first round, then won their first-ever Cup.

Their only division title was the Smythe, everyone. This is a team that’s at its best when it isn’t quite the favorite.


Do these ideas erase all the misgivings about the Kings? No, but the point is that stranger things have happened in California.

Canucks’ Ilya Mikheyev to have season-ending knee surgery

Ilya Mikheyev
Bob Frid/USA TODAY Sports

VANCOUVER, British Columbia — Vancouver Canucks right wing Ilya Mikheyev is set to have season-ending surgery on his left knee.

Canucks general manager Patrik Allvin said Friday night the 28-year-old Russian forward tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee in the team’s first preseason game Sept. 25. Mikheyev will undergo surgery next week and is expected to be ready for training camp in the fall.

Mikheyev was originally listed as week-to-week with the injury and played 45 regular-season games, finishing with 13 goals and 15 assists. He scored in his final appearance Friday night, a 5-2 home victory over Columbus.

Mikheyev signed a four-year, $19 million contract as a free agent last summer.

Maple Leafs’ Matthews out at least 3 weeks with knee injury

Nick Turchiaro/USA TODAY Sports

Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews will miss at least three weeks with a sprained knee.

The team announced the reigning MVP’s anticipated absence Friday, two days after Matthews was injured in Toronto’s victory against the New York Rangers.

Matthews is expected to miss at least six games and could be out for a few more. The timing of the injury coinciding with the NHL All-Star break and the Maple Leafs bye week prevents this from costing Matthews more time out of the lineup.

After being voted an All-Star by fans, Matthews is now out of the event scheduled for Feb. 3-4 in Sunrise, Florida. The league announced Aleskander Barkov from the host Florida Panthers will take Matthews’ place on the Atlantic Division All-Star roster.

Matthews, who won the Hart Trophy last season after leading the NHL with 60 goals, has 53 points in 47 games this season.

Caufield opted for surgery with Habs out of playoff race

caufield surgery
David Kirouac/USA TODAY Sports

MONTREAL — Montreal Canadiens winger Cole Caufield said Friday he wouldn’t be having season-ending surgery on his right shoulder if the team were in playoff contention.

But with the Canadiens near the bottom of the Eastern Conference standings, the 22-year-old Caufield said he decided to have the surgery to protect his long-term health. The procedure is scheduled to be performed by Dr. Peter Millett on Wednesday.

“I didn’t want to stop playing,” Caufield said. “I had a couple tests done to look at it more clearly but, in the end, like it could’ve been one more fall and it could have been even worse.”

Caufield, who leads the Canadiens with 26 goals in 46 games, had three different medical opinions on his shoulder before concluding that his season was over.

“I think they’ve seen a lot more than I have and they know the differences and what they like or don’t like about it,” he said about the medical opinions. “Long term, I think this is what’s best but for sure it was tough to sit out that game against Toronto on Saturday night.”

Caufield initially felt the injury in an awkward fall during Montreal’s 4-2 loss at Dallas on Dec. 23. He said his right shoulder popped, and he replaced it himself.

Caufield felt it again in the Habs’ 4-3 loss at Nashville on Jan. 12. The club announced on Jan. 21 that Caufield would miss the rest of the season.

Caufield is nearing the end of his three-year, entry-level contract and will be a restricted free agent this summer.

All-Star Matty Beniers to miss next 2 games for Kraken

matty beniers
Joe Nicholson/USA TODAY Sports

SEATTLE — Seattle Kraken rookie All-Star Matty Beniers will miss the team’s final two games before the All-Star break after taking a big hit from Vancouver’s Tyler Myers earlier this week.

Seattle coach Dave Hakstol said after morning skate Friday that Beniers would not play Friday night against Calgary or Saturday against Columbus. Hakstol did not speculate on Beniers’ availability for next weekend’s All-Star Game in Florida.

The team has not specified what kind of injury Beniers sustained from the hit. He was barreled over by Myers away from the play early in the second period in Wednesday’s 6-1 victory over Vancouver. Myers was penalized for interference on the play. Beniers returned briefly for one shift later in the period but did not play in the third period.

Beniers is Seattle’s lone All-Star selection this season. He leads all rookies in goals (17) and points (36), and is fifth in total ice time for rookies.

Seattle also placed defenseman Justin Schultz on injured reserve and recalled forward Max McCormick from Coachella Valley of the AHL. Hakstol said Schultz is improving but there’s no timeline on his return.