Former Kings defenseman Rob Scuderi signed a four-year deal with the Pittsburgh… (Jae C. Hong / Associated…)
Two impact players from the Southern California market left town Friday in what was an especially frantic opening day of NHL free agency.
Free agency giveth and taketh? It was slightly more complex than that.
For unrestricted free-agent defenseman Rob Scuderi, it was a matter of geography and family issues, causing him to leave the Kings for his former team, the Pittsburgh Penguins. Scuderi signed a four-year deal worth $13.5 million, making him the first significant member of the Kings' Stanley Cup-winning team to move on.
Free-agent dominoes helped trigger a trade between the Ducks and Ottawa, sending dynamic forward Bobby Ryan to the Senators in exchange for winger Jakob Silfverberg, prospect Stefan Noesen and a first-round pick in 2014. The pick is not lottery protected.
Ryan represented the trade of day in the NHL after the Senators watched their captain and spiritual leader Daniel Alfredsson unexpectedly leave for Detroit. After the Senators missed out on free agent David Clarkson, they went after Ryan and sweetened the offer, upping the draft choice to a first-rounder from a second-rounder.
"It was the best hockey deal I was offered," Ducks General Manager Bob Murray said. "When you're trading a guy the caliber of Bobby, you've got to get a deal that helps you now and helps you in the future."
The deal helps the Ducks become more cap compliant since the long-term, massive contracts of captain Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry kick in this season. Ryan's cap hit will be $5.1 million and Silfverberg offers a far cheaper alternative at $900,000.
Plus, Ryan scored only one more goal than Silfverberg (10) last season. Silfverberg is projected as a top-six forward.
In another move, the Ducks re-signed center Saku Koivu to a one-year extension worth $2.5 million. Murray said there was no news on the Teemu Selanne front but expected to be talking with Selanne soon.
Ryan has lived under the cloud of trade rumors, most of them sending him to his hometown Philadelphia Flyers.
"I was on high alert at the draft last week and I thought if anything was going to happen, it would happen right away," he said. "I thought we were maybe going to go into another season and deal with it then.
"I can't stress how happy I am to be past it all.… I couldn't have asked for a better place to go. I'm just happy that I can push restart. And try this whole thing again and not have to deal with it, day in and day out."
Alfredsson's move to Detroit had been the most-stunning development on Day 1 of free agency until Jarome Iginla agreed to a deal with Boston, the same place he was headed in March before he turned down the deal to go to Pittsburgh.
Ryan wisely noted that there is only one Alfredsson, who had seemed destined to stay with the Senators his entire career until uprooting for Detroit.
"I don't think Daniel Alfredsson, after what he's done the last how many years, is ever going to be replaced," Ryan said. "I'm not going to try to do that.… Replacing Alfie is not going to happen."
Besides the Scuderi news, the Kings lost another free agent and signed one. Center Brad Richardson, who had been with the organization since 2008, agreed to a two-year deal with the Vancouver Canucks. Earlier, the Kings signed defenseman Jeff Schultz, who was just bought out by the Washington Capitals.
He had watched his minutes decline in Washington after coach Bruce Boudreau was fired and had asked for a trade. His one-year deal with the Kings is worth $700,000, and he was asked whether it represented a fresh start.
"It does, for sure. That's what I wanted. I've been in Washington for six years," Schultz said. "They did a lot for me. It was just time in my career for a fresh start, a new beginning. I think going to a team like L.A. that has won, and knows how to win, could be beneficial for me."
Scuderi was looking at the last chance to play closer to home. The Kings tried hard to keep him and made him a strong offer earlier in the week. He played for the Penguins for five-plus years, helping them win the Stanley Cup in 2009, and acknowledged the decision was difficult.
"When I think of the final points that came to my decision, I thought that both teams have the ability to play deep into the spring," Scuderi said. "But Pittsburgh is much closer geographically to where I am from. And I thought at my age, I wasn't going to get this opportunity again to pull the trigger on something like this.
"My parents are still on Long Island. My wife's parents are still on Long Island. To be able to play those teams consistently and have Pittsburgh be a one-hour flight, as compared to a cross-country flight is something that I've missed over the last few years. I've missed having them be part of our lives and their grandkids lives."