Rob Scuderi

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Michalek, Condra, Scuderi among notable vets on waivers

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NHL clubs continued to shuffle their decks today in advance of Tuesday’s roster deadline, which resulted in several older, familiar names on the waiver wire.

A quick rundown:

— Arizona waived longtime blueliner Zbynek Michalek. Michalek, 33, is in the last of a two-year, $6.4 million deal with a $3.2M average annual cap hit, and averaged just over 17 minutes a night in 70 games last year. This move could mean that Jakob Chychrun, the 16th overall pick at this year’s draft, will make the Coyotes’ opening-night roster.

— Just one year after signing a three-year, $3.75 million deal with the Bolts, Erik Condra is on waivers. The 30-year-old winger was a disappointment last season, with just 11 points in 54 games, and appeared to be in a battle for a roster spot throughout the preseason. With reports that GM Steve Yzerman is close to signing star RFA Nikita Kucherov, it’s possible Condra’s contract is buried in the AHL to squeeze a few extra dollars under the cap. Assuming Condra clears waivers, that is.

Rob Scuderi, heading into the last of a four-year, $13.5 million deal that’s been passed around like a hot potato, has been waived by Los Angeles. The 37-year-old originally signed the deal with Pittsburgh, but was then traded to Chicago, and then again to L.A. (the Pens retained most of his salary). Last year he suited up for all three teams, going goalless with 10 points in 63 games. He also appeared in all five of the Kings’ playoff games in an opening-round loss to San Jose, averaging 19:20 TOI per night.

Other notables:

— Calgary dumped tough guy Brandon Bollig, who has one year left on his three-year, $3.75 million deal.

— The Habs did the expected and waived goalie Mike Condon. Condon lost his backup gig to Al Montoya.

— Columbus exposed Gregory Campbell to the wire, with the 32-year-old midway through his two-year, $3 million deal. This comes after Campbell played all 82 games last year, scoring 11 points.

— In addition to Condra, the Bolts also waived Cory Conacher. Conacher was brought back to the organization this year after spending some time in Europe, in the hopes of rediscovering chemistry with head coach Jon Cooper.

Related:

Isles waive Parenteau in surprise move

Jets put Pavelec on the wire

Looking to make the leap: Derek Forbort

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This is part of Los Angeles Kings day at PHT…

The Kings have one of the most experienced, veteran rosters in the NHL with some pretty big contracts in place. That combination usually means there isn’t a lot of room for new blood to break into the lineup. One younger player that should be competing for a roster spot this season is going to be the team’s 2010 first-round draft pick, defenseman Derek Forbort.

He finally made his NHL debut for the Kings last season, appearing in 14 games where he recorded two points (one goal, one assist) and posted some pretty dominant possession numbers in limited playing time.

Given his age, the fact he will be eligible for waivers this season, and that he really doesn’t have anything left to prove in the American Hockey League, this is going to be a big training camp for Forbort to potentially earn a spot on the NHL roster.

Standing in his way is going to be the fact the Kings have quite a few defenders locked into roster spots on the blue line, while they also have some veteran players looking to earn playing time on the blue line. He’s also trying to make a roster that tends to lean toward more experienced players when it comes to playing time.

Even though the defense is pretty crowded at this point and a roster spot is going to be tough to come by, it wouldn’t be the worst thing for the Kings to work in a little bit of youth on their blue line, especially when it comes to their third pairing where the options right now include Rob Scuderi, a player who is clearly a shell of his former self and played for three different teams a year ago, and Matt Greene, a player that is coming off of a 2015-16 campaign where he played in just three games.

They also veterans Tom Gilbert and Zach Trotman competing for playing time.

Defense in the NHL now is as much about skating ability and moving the puck as it is about playing well in your own zone, and a lot of the veteran guys they have competing for those depth spots don’t really fit that mold. You need players that can handle defensive roles, but you can’t anchor your team with players that don’t have the speed and mobility to keep up in today’s game. If the Kings decide to stick with Scuderi or Greene in those depth spots, they might be running that risk. Plus, they probably don’t want to risk losing a younger asset that could still have a future like Forbort to waivers for no return.

Kings to buy out Greene’s final two years

The Los Angeles Kings freed up some cap space today, placing veteran defenseman Matt Greene on waivers for the purpose of being bought out.

Greene, 33, had two years left on his contract, which carried a $2.5 million cap hit. His buyout will cost the Kings an $833,333 cap hit in each of the following four seasons.

Greene was a part of both the Kings’ Stanley Cup titles in 2012 and 2014, but appeared in just three games in 2015-16 (shoulder surgery).

The Kings now have just five defensemen signed to one-way contracts for next season: Drew Doughty, Alec Martinez, Jake Muzzin, Rob Scuderi, and Brayden McNabb.

Let’s take a step back and admire Penguins’ remarkable run of trades

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You could call one of the playoffs’ hottest trios “The HBK Line,” yet you could also consider them “the line that trades built.”

Considering how integral Phil Kessel, Nick Bonino and Carl Hagelin have been to the Pittsburgh Penguins’ run to the 2016 Stanley Cup Final, it’s easy to forget that none of them have even hit their anniversary in the Steel City just yet.

As a refresher:

That’s impressive work by itself, yet the Penguins reinvented themselves with a variety of other trades that can be graded good-to-great.

Rob Scuderi was once a key defensive defenseman, but he’s seen better days; Trevor Daley ended up being a superior fit before his unfortunate injury.

Justin Schultz has his own issues, yet he’s probably been worth the look for a third-round pick. The Penguins also acquired two blueline fixtures on March 2, 2015: Ian Cole and Ben Lovejoy.

This isn’t to say the Penguins are flawless in this and other approaches. The Lovejoy move didn’t always look great. The Maple Leafs may “win” the Kessel trade in the long run.

Even so, the big picture is remarkable. As much as the organization can thank the draft for building its core in the likes of Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Kris Letang, trades took the Penguins to the next level.

(Especially if you consider replacing Mike Johnston with Mike Sullivan as a “trade” of sorts.)

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The San Jose Sharks enjoyed their upgrades through free agency

Kings lock up Brayden McNabb for two more years

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The Los Angeles Kings have an interesting summer ahead of them, but before tackling the bigger questions they got one significant task off their plate by signing defenseman Brayden McNabb to a two-year extension, per the Kings’ PR Twitter feed.

McNabb was eligible to become a restricted free agent after completing his two-year, $1.3 million contract. His new contract will come with an annual cap hit in the $1.7-1.75 million range, according to LA Kings Insiders’ Jon Rosen.

The 25-year-old blueliner primarily played with Drew Doughty at even strength over the course of the 2015-16 campaign, but to call him a first-pairing defenseman would be a bit misleading. McNabb certainly saw his role increase substantially in 2015-16 when compared to the previous season, but he ranked fourth among Kings defensemen in terms of minutes per game with 18:48. It’s worth adding that McNabb was used considerably more in the first half of 2015-16, but he saw his role decline significantly as the season progressed, in part due to the acquisitions of Luke Schenn and Rob Scuderi.

McNabb was also limited to 14 points, down from 24 in 2014-15, but the 6-foot-4, 216-pound defender utilized his size by being a physical presence. Although sometimes he was aggressive to a fault as his 92 penalty minutes demonstrates.

This can ultimately be seen as a bridge contract and if he continues to develop he might be in line for a much bigger payday once this deal is done.

The Kings now have five defensemen signed to one-way contracts and two more blueliners — Schenn and Jamie McBain — that are eligible to become unrestricted free agents. Los Angeles is also facing the possibility that it might lose Milan Lucic if he tests the open market.