NHL's struggling Penguins, doormat Kings swap wingers

AFP
Pittsburgh's Carl Hagelin, right, was traded Wednesday to the NHL's Los Angeles Kings (AFP Photo/Will Newton)

Pittsburgh's Carl Hagelin, right, was traded Wednesday to the NHL's Los Angeles Kings

Pittsburgh's Carl Hagelin, right, was traded Wednesday to the NHL's Los Angeles Kings (AFP Photo/Will Newton)

Los Angeles (AFP) - Swedish left wing Carl Hagelin, who helped the Pittsburgh Penguins win two Stanley Cups, was traded Wednesday to the National Hockey League-worst Los Angeles Kings for left wing Tanner Pearson.

The exchange is aimed at helping the Penguins, NHL champions in 2016 and 2017, escape a funk that has seen them stumble to five losses in their past seven games and the Kings escape the NHL cellar with only five wins in 17 starts.

"This could be the start of more changes. We'll see how it goes," said Penguins general manager Jim Rutherford, who inked a three-year contract extension Wednesday.

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"The way things have gone, it's obvious that we had to make a change. I feel bad. Hagelin is a popular guy. I like him a lot personally... but changes are necessary."

Hagelin, 30, has one goal and two assists in 16 games this season after 10 goals over 81 contests last season. In 504 career NHL games the Swede has 89 goals and 136 assists.

"Our team is obviously not in a position that we are comfortable with in terms of how we are playing," Kings general manager Rob Blake said. "This is a change to our lineup that gives us an additional amount of speed."

Pearson, a 26-year-old Canadian in his sixth NHL campaign, has one assist in 17 games this season and had 15 goals in 82 games last season. He has 69 goals and 75 assists in 325 career games with the Kings, having helped them take the Stanley Cup in 2014.

The Penguins lost 4-2 at Eastern Conference doormat New Jersey on Tuesday, sliding to 7-6 with three over-time losses to stand seventh in the eight-team Metropolitan division.

"I just think we're in a funk now," Rutherford said. "We're a fragile team. We're struggling. But for the most part, I still believe in this team."

Penguins forward Patric Hornqvist said the trade sends a message to the players.

"This is part of the business. If you don't play well there are going to be changes," Hornqvist said. "Obviously, he sent a big message to the group. We have to be better."

The Kings, 5-11-1, lost their third in a row Tuesday with a 5-1 home defeat to Toronto. They have the fewest points with 11 and fewest goals with 34 in the NHL this season. They are 1-3 since firing coach John Stevens 10 days ago and replacing him with Willie Desjardins.

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