This summer of free agency could shape up to be another one fraught with high-level pursuit for the Los Angeles Kings. Last summer, they pursued and failed to attain Ilya Kovalchuk and this summer it’s likely they’ll be in the hunt for Brad Richards. They’ve got some other business to attend to first and getting soon-to-be restricted free agent defenseman Drew Doughty signed to a long-term deal is at the top of the list.
Last season’s Norris Trophy finalist is set to cash in in a major way and with a few teams set to have a lot of cash to spend and salary cap room to play with, taking a chance on having Doughty hit the restricted market isn’t too appealing. While the Kings are set to have plenty of cap space themselves, leaving it up to other teams to set the stipulations isn’t too appealing.
Rich Hammond of L.A. Kings Insider says that the Kings are taking the steps to make sure they get Doughty taken care of on their own terms.
Within the past few days, the Kings have made a “major” offer to Drew Doughty’s agent. Lombardi has made two trips to Toronto — location of the office of Don Meehan’s, Doughty’s agent — within the past four weeks, and the Kings would like to get a deal done before the draft, if possible. Lombardi said he is certainly aware of the risk of an offer sheet to Doughty but is not overly concerned.
A major offer would likely mean that it’s a long term deal worth money that will make sure to have him be the highest paid defenseman on the team and one the top paid in the league. If you’re looking for some framework to start from you can go with the extension his teammate Jack Johnson signed during the season. Johnson signed a seven-year, $30.5 million deal, one that works out to a cap hit of just over $4.3 million per year.
While the Kings have no real threat of salary cap trouble this summer, getting Doughty taken care of is a major priority. The Kings currently have over $47 million committed to the cap with 16 players signed. With the cap believed to go up to around $62 million next season, the Kings don’t have to take the steps Nashville and New Jersey took in recent days taking Shea Weber and Zach Parise to arbitration to prevent other teams from taking a shot at signing them.
There’s no doubt that the Kings will get Doughty taken care of, the only question is just where will his salary set the bar for other young blue liners.