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A man who'd be a King

July 05, 2009|Helene Elliott

Ryan Smyth didn't have to accept a trade to the Kings. The five-year, $31.25-million contract he signed with Colorado had a no-trade clause, and the Kings aren't close to Stanley Cup contention.

But the 33-year-old left wing recognized a chance to lend his leadership to a team that needs it and on Friday agreed to come here for defensemen Kyle Quincey and Tom Preissing and the Kings' fifth-round pick in 2010.

"I first want to thank the Colorado organization," he said by phone Saturday. "They gave me a great opportunity. This is a new chapter in my book and my life, being with Los Angeles. I'm pretty excited about it."

Coach Terry Murray was equally happy about the Kings' second significant move in two days, following Thursday's signing of free-agent defenseman Rob Scuderi.

"Ryan Smyth is a very good addition to our hockey club. He's got a resume that's long and very impressive," Murray said.

"He's going to bring a lot. He can score, he's able to play the game in tight spaces and he makes tremendous plays. With all the defensive schemes in the game now, you need that kind of player."

Smyth brings a cap hit of $6.25 million each of the next three seasons, though his salary will go from $6.5 million to $5.5 million to $4.5 million. He has some mileage on him -- 920 regular-season games and 81 playoff games since his NHL debut with the Oilers in 1994-95 -- but said he's fit.

His numbers support that: he had 26 goals and 59 points in 77 games last season after injuries limited him to 14 goals in 55 games in 2007-08.

"I'm hoping my body can hold up a few more years," he said. "I've been blessed to play this long and I feel I'm in great shape."

Being around the Kings might rejuvenate him. He played alongside Jarret Stoll and Matt Greene in Edmonton and said he respected the intensity of Anze Kopitar and Dustin Brown and others when he faced them.

"They have lots of energy and they were relentless," he said. "They played whistle-to-whistle, all the way for 60 minutes. I just want to add a piece to that puzzle and hopefully I can pass along some of the experience I've gained over the years."

That would include playoff experience, which most of the Kings lack. Leading them to the postseason would answer those who wonder why he agreed to join a non-elite team.

"I'd like to prove you wrong," he said. "It's all about opportunity in this game. You want to get to the playoffs and compete, and with the talent and excitement the Kings have, this will be interesting."

Murray says he expects Smyth to "set a tone" and Scuderi to impart the wisdom gained from consecutive trips to the Cup finals and a triumph last month.

"Scuderi is one of those go-to guys when it comes to the defensive part of the game," Murray said. "He's a top-four defenseman on any team. He's really brought himself along through dedication to the game.

"These were really two nice adds for us."

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helene.elliott@latimes.com

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