Wayne Gretzky's "wish list" has dwindled to one--King defenseman Marty McSorley.
Three days after the St. Louis Blues signed McSorley to an offer sheet worth $10 million, the Kings swung into action. On Monday, they took care of another Gretzky designee by signing left wing Warren Rychel to a three-year deal worth $1.6 million.
Then later in the day, the Kings swept in and beat out divisional rivals Calgary and Vancouver, reaching an oral agreement on a two-year deal worth $400,000 per season with 34-year-old forward Pat Conacher, Conacher said.
Although the Kings have the right to match the Blues' offer for McSorley, the move to re-sign the rugged Rychel, 26, could be viewed as an insurance measure should the Kings lose McSorley to St. Louis, or sign him, then trade him to another team. Certainly, the Blues' action turned out to be fortuitous for the Rychel camp.
"When (the Kings) called me Friday night, this was the last thing I thought they would do," said Tom Laidlaw, Rychel's agent.
According to Laidlaw, the Kings' offer improved dramatically. He said his client will be paid $500,000 this season, $550,000 next season and $550,000 in the option year of his deal.
Rychel, who led the league with 30 major penalties last season, scored 13 points in 70 regular-season games with 314 penalty minutes, and scored 13 points in 23 playoff games.
"We wanted Warren back all along, no matter what the circumstances were," King General Manager Nick Beverley said.
Said Rychel: "I really didn't think I'd be back with the Kings, to tell you the truth. (Negotiations) were at a crawl. I'm very surprised, but I'm very pleased."
As for McSorley, Beverley gave no indication whether the Kings will match the Blues' offer, which has set off shock waves through the league. McSorley's base contract with St. Louis is $800,000 per season, but there is a signing bonus of $5 million spread over 10 years, with installments to be paid at a rate above the prime interest rate.
One NHL executive wasn't impressed with the deal.
"Well, apparently St. Louis didn't watch the Stanley Cup finals," said Harry Sinden, president and general manager of the Boston Bruins.