As mentioned below, the Kings will begin their season next month with no immediate pressure to do well. They aren't really expected to make the playoffs, and should be resigned to the fact that for the first time there is a hockey powerhouse in SoCal — and it isn't them. (A sports Grand Jury should be convened to investigate that embarrassing fact, but that's a different story.) So the new regime at Staples Center can begin strategizing how to knock off the Ducks some year in the future. They began that new era today by trading a couple of veterans, Eric Belanger and Tim Gleason, to the Stanley Cup champion Carolina Hurricanes for Jack Johnson, the third player taken in the 2005 draft. He will play this season for the University of Michigan but is regarded as one of the top defense prospects in the game. The Kings also got a journeyman defenseman and former Duck, Oleg Tverdosky.
Kings GM Dean Lombardi said that he couldn't pass up the chance to get a blue chip prospect like Johnson, even at the cost of Gleason, who is still developing and might turn into a stud on defense himself for the defending champs. In the coverage in Canada, Johnson is the lede. Prominent columnist Bob McKenzie just posted a lengthy piece saying that the deal makes sense for both teams.