Odds and ends: Pionk, Sutter, Vegas - LA Kings Insider

DOWN TO TWO? I shared on Twitter yesterday that Minnesota-Duluth defenseman Neal Pionk, the 21-year-old college free agent who decided to turn pro after his sophomore season, was down to a small handful of teams he was considering signing with, and one of them was the Kings. Then, today:

That’s from a USHL scout; yesterday, Duluth television reporter Zach Schneider spoke with Pionk and said that a decision is likely coming after the weekend. Pionk, a skilled right-defenseman, has whittled a large group of suitors down to two or three teams, and Los Angeles is still one of them. There’s no sense which way he’s leaning – “right now it’s up in the air,” I was told yesterday – but Chicago has recently been a team you’d want to avoid getting into tug-of-wars with over NCAA free agents. For a pair of teams that have been pressed up against the cap in recent years, landing Pionk would be a boon for either one. The right-shot blue liner had seven goals, 34 points and a +24 rating in 42 games with the Bulldogs and turns 22 on July 29. He’s six feet tall and weighs 190 pounds and appears to be the type of skilled puck-moving defenseman who could benefit a transition game and with continued development appears to be the type of player that could find success in the modern NHL. He’d be a good get if L.A. is able to land him.

DARRYL. Via Gary Lawless of TSN 1290 Winnipeg:

Not that it would really be questioned because of the success he forged in Los Angeles and his willingness to help in John Stevens’ transition, but the base appears to have been laid for a strong relationship following his departure from the organization, and that’s important towards alumni relations and team pageantry. Given his success and Dean Lombardi’s success doing what no other coach and executive had done with the Kings, the endgame needs to be pristine ties between the team and those who blueprinted and executed two Stanley Cup runs. Sutter has always spoken highly of his employers. “I’ve been lucky to work for Mr. Anschutz, Mr. Gund, Mr. Wirtz, and Harley Hotchkiss and Doc Seaman,” he said in 2013. “I couldn’t pick in pro sports better owners. When you think about it, that’s a pretty spectacular group.”

GOLDEN DEALS? this is going to be a big story come June. Vegas, according to General Manager George McPhee, is “open for business to any teams seeking to protect their players” and will gladly take draft picks that could entice them to take or disregard certain players. Via John Wawrow of the Associated Press:

“If they want to give us draft picks to encourage us to take a certain player or leave another player alone, we’re open-minded and we’re going to listen to everyone,” McPhee said. “You usually build your team, historically, through the entry draft, so we’d certainly be interested in acquiring picks.”

Teams must submit their Protection List by 2:00 p.m. PT on Saturday, June 17. The 30 players selected will be revealed during the NHL Awards on June 21 at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. Rules of the expansion draft, via NHL.com:

* Vegas must select one player from each presently existing club for a total of 30 players (not including additional players who may be acquired as the result of violations of the Expansion Draft rules).
* Vegas must select the following number of players at each position: 14 forwards, nine defensemen and three goaltenders.
* Vegas must select a minimum of 20 players who are under contract for the 2017-18 season.
* Vegas must select players with an aggregate Expansion Draft value that is between 60-100% of the prior season’s upper limit for the salary cap.
* Vegas may not buy out any of the players selected in the Expansion Draft earlier than the summer following its first season.

REMINDER: The draft lottery is this Saturday, and the results will be revealed during live NBC coverage in the United States shortly after 5:00 p.m. PT. The Kings have a 4.5% chance of winning the lottery for the first overall pick and a 14.4% chance of earning a top-three selection.

Adrian Kempe

#9 | 6′ 2″ | 195 lb | Age: 21

Born: September 13, 1996
Birthplace: Kramfors, SWE
Position: LW
Handedness: Left


Kempe was selected by the Kings in the first round (29th overall) in the 2014 NHL Draft.

Alex Iafallo

#19 | 6′ | 185 lb | Age: 23

Born: December 21, 1993
Birthplace: Eden, NY, USA
Position: C
Handedness: Left


Iafallo was signed by the Kings as an unrestricted free agent on April 18, 2017.

Anze Kopitar

#11 | 6′ 3″ | 224 lb | Age: 29

Born: August 24, 1987
Birthplace: Jesenice, SVN
Position: C
Handedness: Left


As the 11th overall pick in the 2005 NHL Entry Draft, Kopitar became the first Slovenian to play in the NHL. Kopitar has spent his entire NHL career with the Kings, and following the 2015–16 season, was named the Kings’ captain. Noted for both his offensive and defensive play, Kopitar was awarded the Frank J. Selke Trophy as the best defensive forward in the NHL in 2016.

Drew Doughty

#8 | 6′ 1″ | 195 lb | Age: 26

Born: December 8, 1989
Birthplace: London, ON, CAN
Position: D
Handedness: Right


Bio: Doughty is a Canadian defenceman who was selected second overall by the Kings in the 2008 Draft. Doughty made his NHL debut in 2008 as an 18-year-old and was named to the All-Rookie Team. He is a two-time Stanley Cup champion with the Kings, a two-time Olympic gold medallist with the Canadian national team, and a Norris Trophy finalist.

Jeff Carter

#77 | 6′ 4″ | 215 lb | Age: 31

Born: January 1, 1985
Birthplace: London, ON, CAN
Position: C
Handedness: Right


Carter began his hockey career playing in the Ontario Hockey League in Canada before joining the AHL and playing for the Philadelphia Flyers. He was then traded to the Colombus Blue jackets before joining the LA Kings in 2012, where he has since won two Stanley Cups with the Kings.

Jonathan Quick

#32 | 6′ 1″ | 218 lb | Age: 30

Born: January 21, 1986
Birthplace: Milford, CT, USA
Position: G
Handedness: Left


Bio: Quick is the current goaltender for the LA Kings and was selected by Los Angeles at the 2005 NHL Entry Draft. Previously, Quick was a silver medalist with USA at the 2010 Winter Olympics. He’s won two Stanley Cup championships with the Kings, along with being the most recent goaltender to be awarded the Conn Smythe Trophy as the Most Valuable Player (MVP) of the 2012 Stanley Cup playoffs.