There are plenty of NHL general managers on the hot seat today, but if there’s one contending manager who might be trying the patience of his fans, it would be Dean Lombardi of the Los Angeles Kings. We doubt that this move will quench that thirst, but the Kings did make a big move (only from the inside) today by signing forward Justin Williams to a four-year, $14.6 million extension according to Bob McKenzie.
It’s unclear at this point how the salary years will be stacked, but his annual cap hit will be $3.65 million per year beginning in the 2011-12 season. This signing signals a small raise for the winger, as his previous cap hit was $3.5 million.
In a way, Williams might be the prototypical Kings winger. The former Philadelphia Flyers draft pick can skate, score goals and plays a versatile game, but there’s one huge caveat: he’s notoriously injury prone.
While he’s having a great season this year (20 goals and 29 assists for 49 points in a stunning 62 games played, 100 percent of the Kings’ contests), he only played in 49 games last season, 44 in 08-09 and 37 in 07-08.
The Kings are a team noted for their star-crossed history with talented players who cannot stay on the ice, so it’s disturbing that they’re placing such a big part of their future on such unstable ground. Can they really trust that one healthy season (in a contract year no less) is a more reliable indicator of the future than the previous three?
It would be great if Williams plays most of the available games in those seasons. Yet much like Marian Gaborik and former Kings forward Pavol Demitra, his most ideal existence might be in the world of video games, where that injury problem can simply be turned off.