Rob Scuderi leaves Kings to return to Penguins

It came with little surprise when former Kings defenseman Rob Scuderi decided it was time to leave Los Angeles and sign a deal that would bring him closer to home.

Scuderi, who is from New York and spends his summers in the Boston area, signed a four-year deal with the Pittsburg Penguins on Friday that will pay him a reported $3.375 million per season.

Scuderi won his first Stanley Cup with the Penguins in 2009.

“I think to me it was just the geography of the equation, and at this stage of my career,” Scuderi told TSN. “I’d like to be a little closer to my home and to my parents and in-laws. It came down as a family decision. I thought L.A. tabled a very fair offer, and I wasn’t going to leave Los Angeles to play for another team in the Western Conference. So it had to be an East Coast team, and it wasn’t a very long list. Pittsburgh wasn’t even on it, because I didn’t think that they would make me an offer, and then when it came down to it and they offered, I was very intrigued by the possibility. I get to go to a place that I’m familiar with. The management, the coaching the area — it just helps me make a smooth transition, because now that my children are older, that’s important to me.”

The loss of Scuderi is both significant both on and off the ice. He has the ability to settle a game down on the ice with his solid defensive play and is a calming influence inside the lockeroom.

With the loss of Scuderi the Kings made a move to try and compensate by signing former Washington Capitals first-round draft pick defenseman Jeff Schultz. The Alberta native shouldn’t be hard to spot on the ice. At 6-foot-6 and 230 pounds he will be an imposing figure on the Kings blueline and fits the big mold that the Kings always seek.

With the loss of Scuderi and Willie Mitchell’s status still in question, Schultz helps fills a void left by Scuderi. He is a strong stay-at-home defenseman who led the NHL in plus/minus during the 2009-10 season at plus-50. During the 2011 Capitals’ playoff run, he set a post-season record by being on the ice for 119 consecutive minutes without the Capitals being scored upon.

The Kings also officially parted ways today with forward Brad Richardson. Richardson signed a two-year deal on Friday with the Vancouver Canucks for just over $1 million per season.

A great player to have in any lockeroom, he can play all three forward positions, and kills penalties while providing speed and grit to the Canucks lineup. 

As of Friday night, the status of Dustin Penner was still unclear. The Kings still have a little over $5 million in cap space with four players left to fill the roster. Regardless, for Penner to remain an L.A. King it would require a significant pay cut.

Stay tuned.