Keep an eye on Drew Doughty‘s contract situation.
The L.A. Kings defenseman now has only two years remaining on his current eight-year, $56 million deal and he will be eligible for unrestricted free agency at the conclusion of this contract in 2019.
Doughty has been the centerpiece of the Kings’ blue line since joining the organization as the second overall pick in 2008, winning the Norris Trophy in 2016 and helping L.A. to its hockey rejuvenation with a pair of Stanley Cup championships and another lengthy playoff minus a title in 2013.
The success of that three-year stretch has since given way to more difficult times with one abbreviated playoff appearance in the last three years. For the organization, the disappointment of missing the 2017 post-season resulted in some big changes in the front office and coaching staff, with the dismissal of Dean Lombardi and Darryl Sutter.
That’s why Doughty’s contract situation will be of particular interest as the season goes along.
“My first love will always be L.A.,” Doughty told The Hockey News.
“It’s one of the best organizations in all of sports, not just hockey. It’s unbelievable. They treat us first-class, and it’s a good place to play. Living in Los Angeles, you can’t beat it. I’d love to re-sign in L.A. But if our team isn’t going in the right direction…I want to win Cups. I don’t give a s— where I play. I just want to win Cups, and that’s the bottom line.”
The Kings were once a dominant team in the West, but the landscape has also shifted of late with the rise of the Nashville Predators, the Connor McDavid-led Edmonton Oilers and the Calgary Flames appear poised to take another step in their progression after an active summer.
It was also pointed out this summer at PHT that a number of key players for the Kings struggled last season and are only getting older, while locked into long-term contracts beyond the end of this Doughty deal in 2019.