June 3, 2018 | 5:46pm ET
KINGS EYEING SCORING WINGER THIS SUMMER
Phil Kessel, right wing
The Los Angeles Kings plan on exploring the trade market for a top-six scoring winger and could be evaluating numerous options over the coming weeks.
Kings GM Rob Blake expressed interest in Montreal Canadiens captain Max Pacioretty during the season, but as TFP was first to report, Blake was not interested in moving top prospect Gabe Vilardi in a package.
The Kings and Canadiens had discussed deals involving wingers Tanner Pearson and Tyler Toffoli as separate centerpieces, but talks fizzled.
It’s possibly, and likely, the Kings reach back out to Habs GM Marc Bergevin about Pacioretty this month, though it’s unclear if Montreal has changed its mind on a possible return, especially with the club expected to draft a winger with the No.3 selection in this month’s NHL Draft.
In addition to Pacioretty, the Kings have also been linked to Mats Zuccarello of the New York Rangers, unrestricted free agent Ilya Kovalchuk, and Pittsburgh Penguins sniper Phil Kessel.
During Friday’s “Insider Trading” segment on TSN, Bob McKenzie reported the Kings were among the teams interested in Kessel, who could be dealt this off-season.
Kessel, 30, has four-years remaining on his contract, which comes with a $6.8 million salary cap hit. He also owns an eight-team trade list, and while it’s unclear if the Kings are one of those clubs, the fact McKenzie reported their interest may suggest they’re a team he’d be willing to go to.
Blake is expected to continue to explore the trade market this summer, whether a deal gets ironed out this month or not.
The Kings have roughly $4.25 million in available salary cap for next season, but that will increase once the cap itself, currently at $75 million, goes up to as much as $82 million.