Drew Doughty’s future with the Los Angeles Kings has been delayed as he waits a new contract as a restricted free agent. As one of the top young defensemen in the league, Doughty’s got a lot going for him and the future of the Kings’ blue line. Of course, trying to get a franchise defenseman locked up to a long term deal is easier said than done.
The market for defensemen got out of whack this summer thanks to deals given out to guys like Christian Ehrhoff (10 years, $40 million to Buffalo) and Steve Montador (four years, $11 million) so the price for a 21 year-old former Norris Trophy finalist would seem to be astronomical.
For Doughty, however, his future lies in the hands of GM Dean Lombardi and the rest of Kings management. The Los Angeles Times’ Helene Elliott has the story from L.A. about how offers are being passed back and forth between the two sides but ultimately it’s all on the Kings’ shoulders to get a deal done.
Don Meehan, who teams with Mark Guy in representing Doughty, said Tuesday he hadn’t spoken to the Kings about Doughty since June 23. Meehan said he assumed the Kings were focusing on their trade for Mike Richards and (ultimately futile) pursuit of free agent Brad Richards, but those deals are long done.
It’s believed the Kings are offering up to nine years at more than $6.5 million per year.
“I think he’d be happy to stay if we agree upon terms that are acceptable to him,” Meehan said. “And those are our instructions, to negotiate with L.A. on that basis to secure something that he’d be happy with.”
A nine-year deal like that would cost the Kings at least $58.5 million over that span. A deal like that would also keep Doughty in Los Angeles until he’s 30 and ensure that the Kings keep him locked up well into his prime and into his first few years where he could be an unrestricted free agent. To get through that the Kings would have to pay up a bit more, but on the upside they’d get the long term deal they’re looking for and find a way to help keep the salary cap hit down.
No matter how things get worked out, the Kings are going to have to do their part to keep Doughty happy and not prolong his semi-freedom as a restricted free agent. While the prospects aren’t likely that he could be signed to an offer sheet, teams never want to take a chance like that and keep him even the slightest bit available to anyone with the salary space and willingness available to make something drastic happen.