Purcell’s ‘too good for the American League’ — could trade be coming?

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Another name to keep an eye on as the Mar. 1 trade deadline draws closer — L.A. Kings forward Teddy Purcell.

Well, technically, it’s Ontario Reign forward Teddy Purcell.

A veteran of over 500 big league contests, Purcell signed with the Kings this offseason but lasted just 12 games before getting waived, and was sent to the minors. He’s since shown extremely well in Ontario — 14 points through 12 contests — and, as head coach Mike Stothers explained, is probably too talented to be toiling in AHL.

“You can see his skill level,” Stothers said, per LA Kings Insider. “He’s too good for this league and maybe this is what he needs to get back up to the NHL but it’s almost like he’s a tweener.

“He’s too good for the American League, maybe he’s getting a little longer in the tooth in the NHL, I don’t know. But what he’s brought, it’s what everybody’s looking for. It’s a skill set. The way he hangs onto pucks. The way he makes plays.”

It’s believed Purcell’s financial situation, not his playing ability, was the reason he went unclaimed on waivers. Though his contract isn’t huge, it does carry a $1.6 million cap hit — and to hear Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman explain it, that could be why teams are opting to wait until closer to the deadline to contemplate acquiring him:

Purcell not being picked up on waivers seems purely a budget/cap decision. The Kings let it be known they were willing to trade him, as long as they did not take a contract back in return. That didn’t work.

There are so many teams tight to the cap, they didn’t have room. The Ottawa Senators have space and Purcell played for Guy Boucher in Tampa Bay, but that’s a budget issue.

It’s little consolation for him now, but I wouldn’t be surprised if someone takes a chance later in the year, when teams have more room.

As we wrote earlier, Ottawa remains in the market for help at forward. Purcell’s two best offensive campaigns came under Boucher in Tampa Bay — 51 points in ’10-11, 65 points in ’11-12 — and there is some good playoff experience on his resume. Purcell was nearly a point-a-game player for the Bolts as they advanced to the Eastern Conference final six years ago.

Stothers made it clear what the goal is for both the organization and player.

“I know Teddy wants to get back in the NHL,” he said. “We certainly hope that he can and do so in rapid fashion.”

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