EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- Los Angeles Kings forward Tyler Toffoli knows how quickly things can change in the NHL. He has gone from Stanley Cup champion to out of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, and now he has lost the linemate who helped him have his best NHL season.
The biggest news to come out of free agency for the Kings was the departure of left wing Milan Lucic, who signed a seven-year contract reportedly worth $42 million with the Edmonton Oilers on July 1. Lucic and Toffoli played much of last season on the same line, with center Jeff Carter, and Toffoli scored an NHL career high 31 goals with 58 points and led the League with a plus-35 rating in 82 games.
Toffoli, 24, and the Kings will face Lucic at least five times this season.
"It's tough," Toffoli said Monday at the Kings' youth hockey camp. "He's a great player, a great guy to have in the room. But he's moved on and we're going to have to play against him and play hard against him."
Toffoli was helping out at the camp where kids ages 5-15 had free rein on Los Angeles' practice facility, which is normally teeming with fans and recreation league teams.
The only forwards Los Angeles could sign in free agency to offset the loss of Lucic were Teddy Purcell and Michael Latta, and the Kings will have to lean on prospects Nic Dowd and Michael Mersch to emerge during training camp.
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It's the latest challenge for the Kings, up against the NHL salary cap after two Stanley Cup championships, in 2012 and 2014. Their elimination in the Western Conference First Round of the playoffs to the San Jose Sharks came after they led the Pacific Division for much of last season.
"I think this year, especially, we all have to come in and earn our spots," Toffoli said. "After the past two seasons, it's a disappointment for us. We know what we had, especially last year. We let ourselves down."
Los Angeles did make other news off the ice. Kings coach Darryl Sutter agreed to terms on a two-year contract extension with a third-year option on May 13. Center Anze Kopitar was named captain, in place of Dustin Brown, and won his first Selke Trophy. Defenseman Drew Doughty, likely to be an alternate captain, won his first Norris Trophy.
To Toffoli, the awards were further proof that the Kings have perhaps the best foundation in the NHL with Kopitar, Doughty and goalie Jonathan Quick. Toffoli, who outscored Kopitar by six goals in the regular season, is a huge part of the Kings' future, assuming they can sign him to an extension before his contract expires next summer.
Toffoli has become a face for the Kings in community events. Last summer, he and Carter hosted Special Olympics athletes from Barbados and Macedonia at the practice facility. Last month, he made an appearance at the Nickelodeon "Kids' Choice Sports Awards," and on Friday he will participate in the Los Angeles Dodgers' Kings Night.
Before taking the ice at the youth camp, Toffoli took individual photos with each camper. He knows what it means because he remembers skating with former Toronto Maple Leafs players at camps when he was growing up in the Toronto area.
"I want to go out there and help out as much as I can," he said. "When you see the kids and how excited they get and even their parents come in seeing their kids with me and some of the other guys, it's a good feeling. It makes us pretty happy."