LOS ANGELES—One day after the NHL Draft ended, Los Angeles Kings fans are still sobering up to the events that transpired on June 26 and June 27.
With almost no warning, the Kings traded their only first round pick in the draft along with their backup goaltender, Martin Jones, and prospect defenseman Colin Miller to the Boston Bruins in return for 27-year-old left wing Milan Lucic.
The news came as a particular surprise given that just the week prior, Jones and the Kings were supposedly “close” on a new contract agreement. One possible reason for such a deal to have fallen apart could stem from Jones wanting to have a bigger role as a starting goaltender, something he has expressed a number of times in the past.
On the flip side, the Kings acquired a potentially key player in the physical, but skilled Lucic. Kings general manager Dean Lombardi engineered his trade so that Boston would retain almost half of Lucic’ salary cap, meaning the Kings would be receiving him at a bargain price of $3.8 million.
“I think this guy’s a perfect fit for the rest of our 12 forwards right now and I think he could have a big impact on our team,” said Lombardi of Lucic in an interview with Kings correspondent Daryl Evans.
Though Lucic himself expressed he was unfamiliar with most on the Kings roster, he also admitted excitement about getting to play alongside new teammates such as Anze Kopitar and Marian Gaborik. Should Lucic prove to not be a fit with the team, he only has one year left on his contract and can be freely released at the end of the next season, if necessary.
The other big news from Friday that may have been partially overshadowed by the Lucic trade was the re-signing of Tyler Toffoli to the team. The contract extension, worth a modest $6.5 million, would allow Toffoli to play for the Kings until 2017. Toffoli, 23, is seen as a rising star in the NHL and quickly became one of the team’s most valuable offensive players in the last two seasons.
There is no official word yet on who will replace Jones as Jonathan Quick’s main understudy, but history indicates the starting goaltender from the Kings’ minor league affiliate, the Manchester Monarchs (soon to become the Ontario Reign), will most likely take the post. In this case, it is 23-year-old Canadian Jean Francois Berube.
The Kings ended up selecting 6 picks from rounds 2-7. The team’s highest draftee was 18-year-old Slovakian defenseman Erik Cernak as the 43rd overall pick. Their draft ended after selecting 20-year-old Canadian defenseman Matt Roy for the 194th overall pick.
The Kings will be back in action for the regular season Wednesday, October 7.