Good morning from LAKI HQ, Insiders.
Several bullet-type points as free agency opens at 9:00 a.m. PT:
-The Kings have pushed very hard to try to land Joe Thornton, but it’s still unclear where exactly he will sign. His decision appears to be partially linked to Patrick Marleau’s decision, based on conversations and reports, but it’s not easy at this point to place a finger on what Marleau’s decision would be. Throughout this process, it has been slightly more likely that Thornton will sign in San Jose over anywhere else, but if he chooses to leave the Sharks, Los Angeles will have a very good opportunity to land the future Hall of Famer. Expect these decisions to be made quickly.
-I’ve never heard Justin Williams’ name linked to the Kings. I believe they’ve contacted him, but they’ve also basically contacted virtually all of the forwards who have demonstrated offensive success in the NHL and also have a pulse. The Kings have kept things a bit mum in trying to curtail leaks, but I don’t have any expectation that he will end up back in Los Angeles. I’m not expecting Jarome Iginla to re-sign, either.
–As previously reported by LAKI, highly touted goaltending prospect Cal Petersen will sign an entry-level contract with Los Angeles after choosing not to sign with Buffalo, who drafted him in the third round in 2013. This would be a major coup for the Kings, who’ve attempted a multi-level approach towards rebuilding their goaltending pipeline, and Petersen will be expected to command a wide load for AHL-Ontario. Expect this signing to be announced today.
-Earlier in the off-season the sense I had was that the Kings were planning to acquire a back-up to Jonathan Quick, but now, based on the expected signing of Cal Petersen and what I’d read in Elliotte Friedman’s column, this is a bit tougher to read, and I’m not sure if this is still the case. (I’m not getting a ton of info on this at the moment.) I still expect them to offer a tryout to someone to provide competition to Campbell at training camp.
-I’m not expecting the Kings to be in on the biggest names outside of Thornton, but their checklist should they not catch the big Shark is more or less expected to include a third or fourth line center, a winger who has the chance to play in the top-six, and a depth defenseman. That’s not to say all boxes will be checked off, and if prices get silly, there is still the opportunity to acquire assets via trade. The Kings also appear to feel confident to go into next season without any real wholesale changes as several younger players continue to grow into roles with the club.
–Jesse Cohen and I talk about this on the most recent Kings Men Podcast. We also recruited Sabres NHL.com correspondent Joe Yerdon, who provides context to the Cal Petersen saga and describes the type of goaltender the Kings will be picking up. Enjoy the audio on your Saturday morning, and please listen quickly, because much of this will become obsolete in an hour or so. Enjoy the silly season, Insiders.