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Kings Step Up for Conroy

L.A. signs former Flame center to a four-year, $12.6-million deal, hoping he can help the team reach next level.

July 07, 2004|Mike Bresnahan | Times Staff Writer

The Kings took a decisive step toward restocking their roster by signing free-agent center Craig Conroy, who was side by side with Jarome Iginla in the Calgary Flames' playoff run that ended last month in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup finals.

Conroy signed a four-year, $12.6-million contract Tuesday with the Kings, bringing credentials as a two-way player who was second on the Flames in playoff scoring and has twice been a finalist for the Selke Trophy, given annually to the league's top defensive forward.

Conroy, 32, joked that he wasn't the biggest sports name to make headlines in Los Angeles in recent days but said he is ready to contribute to a team that needs playmaking and scoring.

"I want to come in and help to try to get it to the next level, to get to the playoffs like we did in Calgary and maybe this time win something," Conroy said.

The Kings get a skilled playmaker and solid penalty-killer who will center either the No. 1 or No. 2 line, depending on who else might be acquired.

Conroy had six goals and 11 assists in 26 playoff games for the Flames, but he became dissatisfied afterward when he was offered only a two-year contract. Conroy, an unrestricted free agent, opened up discussions last week with the St. Louis Blues, New Jersey Devils and the Kings.

A former checking-line center, Conroy's offensive numbers improved dramatically in a little more than three seasons in Calgary. He was put on a line with Iginla and scored 188 points in 247 games with the Flames.

His numbers dipped during the 2003-04 regular season -- he had only eight goals and a team-high 39 assists in 63 games -- but he rebounded with a strong playoff effort.

Conroy, who made $2.2 million last season, had a plus-12 rating, third among all playoff participants, and helped the No. 7-seeded Flames advance to the finals for the first time since 1989.

"What he went through with Calgary, that kind of experience is going to be very valuable for our team and particularly our younger players," King General Manager Dave Taylor said. "The energy, the passion he brings to the rink ... we think that will be a tremendous boost for our team."

Conroy, 6 feet 2 and 197 pounds, had his best season in 2001-02, when he had 27 goals, 75 points and was a finalist for the Selke Trophy.

Conroy's signing was the first for the Kings since the free-agency period began last Thursday. The Kings had shed $22.7 million in salary from last season's payroll after they did not re-sign Ziggy Palffy, Jason Allison, Adam Deadmarsh, Ian Laperriere, Jozef Stumpel and Jaroslav Modry.

"We certainly hope we can add some more pieces," said Taylor, who spoke with Palffy's agent Monday without any movement on either side. " ... If there are other deals like this one [with Conroy] that make sense, we would do it."

The Kings have also spoken to the agents for forwards Pavol Demitra, Paul Kariya, Glen Murray, Petr Nedved and Alexei Zhamnov, among others.

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