Thread: News Article: Kings Look Set for a Big Deal
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07-01-2010, 04:31 AM
Ziggy Stardust
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Kings Look Set for a Big Deal,870209.column
The Kings are poised to make the biggest splash in the NHL's shallow free-agent pool.

All signs indicate the Kings will lead the pursuit of dynamic left wing Ilya Kovalchuk when the free agency period begins Thursday at 9 a.m. Pacific time. They're among the few teams with enough salary-cap space and resources to afford him and a bright enough future to lure him, though they're hoping he won't try to break the bank.

Kovalchuk, 27, turned down offers of $101 million over 12 years and $70 million over seven years from the Atlanta Thrashers before they traded him to the New Jersey Devils in February. But in a league generally split into big-market teams near the cap and teams that stay near the salary floor for budgetary reasons, there may not be much bidding for the two-time 50-goal scorer.

General Manager Dean Lombardi declined to comment Wednesday on the Kings' plans. However, Tim Leiweke, the Kings' governor and the chief executive of their parent company, AEG, said last week that while he's proud of the Lakers' five titles under the company's banner, winning the Stanley Cup is his ultimate goal.

"The foundation of AEG is the Kings and until we win the Stanley Cup our job is not done," he said. Toward that end, he said, "If the right guy is there next week we're going to fill a hole."

Noting the Kings' improvement they made the playoffs last season for the first time since 2002 and tied a club record with 46 victories he said they're primed to make a significant move.

"We could have added major free agents two years ago and it wouldn't have mattered," Leiweke said. "Now you look at our team and the job Dean has done and there's a lot to get excited about."

The Kings, who are also expected to pursue a top-four defenseman, freed cap space by letting Alexander Frolov go. Frolov's agent, Don Meehan, said Wednesday the Kings hadn't made his client an offer and that Frolov, who made $4 million last season, will become an unrestricted free agent.

The Kings are also expected to let Jeff Halpern, Fredrik Modin and Raitis Ivanans walk away. Lombardi said last week he had talked to defensemen Sean O'Donnell, also about to be an unrestricted free agent, but they hadn't agreed on O'Donnell's playing a reduced role next season. Their plans for Randy Jones are unclear.

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