In the minds of many, Steven Stamkos and Drew Doughty’s restricted free agent negotiations are inexorably linked. The two young superstars even have the same representation (Newport Sports). The thought was that once one of the two signed, the other might follow like a domino.
With the big news of Stamkos’ signing in mind, many people (Los Angeles Kings fans especially) are waiting on pins and needles for news regarding Doughty’s negotiations. Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem to be that simple; Helene Elliott reports that there’s “nothing new on the Doughty front.”
Stamkos’ deal won’t be the only barometer for Doughty
Saying that Doughty will fall in line just because Stamkos’ deal might have created some kind of “ceiling” overlooks the complications involved in the Kings’ situation. One important note is that Stamkos’ negotiations aren’t the only ones that might set some precedent for the Doughty deal. The most obvious other case is that of Nashville Predators blueliner Shea Weber.
While there are some clear differences between Weber and Doughty (age, style and overall team budget being three of the things that jump out the most), the two share the same position. That might provide more of a “road map” than Stamkos’ $7.5 million per year deal since the Lightning star is a center.
Why Doughty and the Kings are at an impasse
The latest Doughty update revealed that the Kings’ most recent offer was a nine-year deal that would total about $58.5 million, with a $6.5 million cap hit. That’s a hefty amount of money – just $1 million per year less than Stamkos will receive, with four more years of security – but rumors abound that Doughty wants to be the highest paid Kings player (Anze Kopitar’s annual cap hit is $6.8 million).
Giving Doughty close to $7 million per year might be too much for the Kings to stomach. Such an impasse might explain the disturbing finding that the two sides haven’t spoken since June 23.
The length of Stamkos’ deal might be the answer for both sides
When it comes down to it, the Stamkos deal’s term might be more of a measuring stick for the Kings and Doughty than his salary. By signing a five-year contract, Stamkos preserved his money-making future by making sure that the contract doesn’t bleed away his unrestricted free agent years. That might be the ticket for Doughty, then; take a $6-$6.5 million per year contract for a shorter term to open the doors to a bigger unrestricted free agent bounty. (Of course, the drawback for the Kings is that they would risk losing Doughty during a significant portion of his prime.)
Doughty’s situation should be interesting to follow, whether the Stamkos contract affects the negotiations or not. It’s easy to rave about Kings GM Dean Lombardi’s off-season moves thus far, but in the grand scheme of things, it all comes down to re-signing the biggest jewel in the team’s crown to a reasonable contract.
It looks like that might not be an easy task, though.