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Los Angeles Kings sign Swedish Elite League defenseman Johan Fransson

He’s Swedish and his name looks almost the same on paper, but no, the Los Angeles Kings didn’t sign Johan Franzen. Instead, the team signed Swedish Elite League defenseman Johan Fransson to a one-year contract. Rich Hammond shares some details about the blueliner.

Fransson became Kings property after the Feb. 2007 trade that sent Mattias Norstrom to Dallas, but Fransson had been unsigned and playing in the Swedish Elite League. Fransson, 25, is 6-foot-1, 183 pounds, and totaled 11 goals, 19 assists and 26 penalty minutes in 54 games last season for Lucea HF.

It sounds like Fransson will have a shot at making the Kings’ defensive rotation by attending training camp this summer.

The thing is, the Kings D-core is loaded with young talent already. Obviously, there’s Norris Trophy candidate Drew Doughty leading the charge, but the Kings also feature prospects and/or young starters such as Jack Johnson, Vyacheslav Voynov, Thomas Hickey, Alec Martinez, Colten Teubert, Nicolas Deslauriers and Davis Drewinskie. There might even be a player or two who was lost in that ridiculously deep group of young players.

While it won’t be easy for Fransson - or any of the second tier players in that group - the Kings benefit from considerable depth. This could allow them to recover from injuries or even trade for proven NHL players.

I think the Kings are the future ... *cough* kings of the Pacific division. They’re building their team the right way, too, with incremental improvements rather than stabs in the dark. Of course, things could change if they go after Ilya Kovalchuk as many have wondered.