The Los Angeles Kings acquired veteran forward Kris Versteeg from the Carolina Hurricanes in exchange for 20-year-old prospect Valentin Zykov and a conditional fifth round draft pick.
Versteeg, 29, won Stanley Cups with Chicago in 2010 and 2015. The impetus behind his acquisition, learned through conversations with hockey operations, was based partly on his ability to replace some of the scoring vacated by the injured Marian Gaborik, and partly on Versteeg’s playoff history, championship pedigree and versatility. The 5’11, 176-poind forward has 16 goals and 42 points in 84 career playoff games.
“I think he gives us some depth and the ability to finish and play all positions for us. It’s important,” Darryl Sutter said. “Gabby’s out, and I think that it showed up even tonight where we’ve been using three and a half lines, basically, when you look at minutes played. Especially in back-to-backs, you need four lines, four good lines.”
In 43 games with AHL-Ontario, Zykov, the team’s second round draft pick in 2013, totaled seven goals and 14 points. The forward prospect turns 21 in May.
Previously, the Kings had their sights set on Teddy Purcell, but negotiations with Edmonton stalled late Friday when a prospect – believed to be Nikolai Prokhorkin – would not sign a contract and commit to playing in North America. Though a deal appeared to be in place, Purcell ultimately was traded to Florida for a third round pick.
The average annual value of Versteeg’s contract is $2.2-million. To make space for his arrival, the Kings moved Marian Gaborik to long-term injured reserve, freeing up cap space. That move has no bearing on Gaborik’s expected return date; he told FOX Sports West earlier this week that he expects to miss 10-to-12 weeks. Were Gaborik to return during the playoffs, there would be no salary cap constraints affecting the team.
According to financials provided by General Fanager, the Kings now have roughly $3.38M of cap space available. The trade deadline is tomorrow at 12:00 p.m. PT, but based on conversations with hockey operations, Los Angeles is not expected to be a major player on deadline day, having acquired Luke Schenn, Vincent Lecavalier in January and, on Friday, Rob Scuderi in previous trades.
“I guess the obvious thing [Versteeg brings] is experience,” said Luke Schenn, who played with Versteeg with the Toronto Maple Leafs. “He has a couple Cups and he’s very good in the playoffs. I had the chance to play with him for probably half or three-quarters of a year in Toronto, and he’s a versatile player. He can play the power play, left wing, right wing, everything like that. Obviously we’re excited to have him and add that experience.”
After having lost 4-2 in Anaheim on Sunday, the Kings will return to Staples Center to face the Montreal Canadiens on Thursday, beginning a five-game home stand.
Luke Schenn, on Versteeg’s versatility:
Who knows where they’re going to slot him in, but he can adjust. Left wing, right wing, I remember in Toronto he even played a little bit of center, too. I don’t know the plan, but he’s a good guy. He can probably add something to your power play and I’ve seen him kill penalties and everything, too. Checking role, offensive role, he’s kind of just, like I said, a very versatile player.
Schenn, on keeping things loose, and whether he’s good in the room:
Yeah, loose is a good way to put it, for sure. From what I remember, he’s good in the room like that, kind of keeps things a little bit lighter. Obviously he’s had success in a few different places where he’s played, and we’re all really excited to have him here.