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Kings sign Rob Scuderi to four-year, $13.6-million deal

HOCKEY

The defenseman comes to L.A. after helping Pittsburgh win the Stanley Cup last month.

July 03, 2009|Helene Elliott

The Kings made their first venture into the free-agent market Thursday, but not for the winger they need so much.

Instead, they agreed to a four-year, $13.6-million deal with defenseman Rob Scuderi, who won the Stanley Cup with the Pittsburgh Penguins last month and hasn't yet had his day with the trophy.

Scuderi parlayed a team-leading 164 blocked shots -- and a strong postseason performance, especially in the Cup final -- into a huge raise over the $725,000 he earned last season. A native of Syosset, N.Y., he turned 30 in December. The Penguins didn't have the salary cap space to keep him or his defense partner, Hal Gill, who signed with Montreal on Wednesday.

"It's strange. You win the Cup, you win the ultimate team prize, and 2 1/2 weeks later there's already a couple of guys missing from it," he said by phone Thursday night.

"I think we all understand that's the way the business goes sometimes and it's something every team has to deal with."

Scuderi said he was sold on the Kings' future during conversations he had with General Manager Dean Lombardi and assistant GM Ron Hextall.

"Of the teams that were still offering I thought they had the most potential," Scuderi said. "I really liked their thought process and the direction the team was going and I wanted to be a part of it."

The left-handed shooter becomes the Kings' highest-paid defenseman, ahead of Matt Greene and Tom Preissing. The Kings would like to move Preissing after demoting him to the minors last season.

Scuderi should ease the workload of 37-year-old Sean O'Donnell and enable Lombardi to move restricted free agent Jack Johnson.

"He fits. He is a shut-down defenseman who breaks up plays and kills penalties," Lombardi said of Scuderi. "You can match him against tough top lines and still pair him with our good, puck-moving defensemen.

"He had a great playoffs and was a real key for that final series win. Off the ice, he is a quiet leader. He is a professional who not only leads by example but he prepares himself well."

The Kings also announced they re-signed enforcer Kevin Westgarth to a three-year contract. In addition, they scheduled a development camp July 10-12 at their El Segundo training facility, with all scheduled practices open to the public at no charge. Brayden Schenn, chosen fifth in the entry draft, is scheduled to participate. So are goaltenders Jonathan Quick, Jonathan Bernier and Jeff Zatkoff.

The pace of free-agent moves slowed Thursday after Wednesday's opening-day flood. The most prominent player to be signed Thursday was veteran winger Mark Recchi, who was acquired by Boston from Tampa Bay at the trade deadline and stayed with the Bruins for one year at $1 million. Forward Nik Antropov, who scored 28 goals last season for the Toronto Maple Leafs and Rangers, left New York for a four-year, $16-million deal with Atlanta.

The trade that would have sent Dany Heatley from Ottawa to Edmonton is on hold and might be abandoned because Heatley has refused to waive his no-trade clause.

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helene.elliott@latimes.com

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BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX

New King

The Kings signed Rob Scuderi, 30, who led Pittsburgh with a plus-23 rating, 164 blocked shots and an average of 3:47 short- handed ice time. He assisted on the game-winning goal in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup finals against Detroit. His statistics, all with Pittsburgh:

*--* SEASON GP G A Pts +/- PIM 2003-04 13 1 2 3 2 4 2005-06 57 0 4 4 -18 36 2006-07 78 1 10 11 3 28 2007-08 71 0 5 5 3 26 2008-09 81 1 15 16 23 18 CAREER 300 3 36 39 13 112 *--*

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