Last week, Kings GM Dean Lombardi said he had no concern about Darryl Sutter leaving Los Angeles.
This week, Sutter basically said the same.
“I’m under contract until July 1,” the Kings head coach said, per the Los Angeles Times. “I have no desire to go anywhere else or do any of that. We’ll get it worked out. That’s my plan.”
While this news doesn’t come as a huge surprise, it has to be something of a relief for the organization. Nobody wanted to see the 57-year-old bench boss depart — he’s been in L.A. for the last five seasons and enjoyed a tremendous amount of success, winning two Stanley Cups.
But Lombardi was blunt in his assessment of the Kings last week. After missing the playoffs two years ago and getting bounced in five games this year, he said there were going to be some tough times ahead for everyone, Sutter included, as the club tried to figure things out.
“To get this back on track,” Lombardi said, “there’s going to be some minor punches in the gut as we fight our way through.”
He also admitted the Kings are in “uncharted waters,” and “not where we want to be.”
Reading into both Lombardi’s and Sutter’s comments, it appears next year could be one of transition. The Kings sound like they’re looking to their prospect base in AHL Ontario, hoping to bring more young players into the fold.
There are two main reasons for this. One, that group has been very successful recently, and captured last year’s Calder Cup. 2) Los Angeles doesn’t have a ton of cap flexibility heading into the offseason, and could probably use some younger players contributing on entry-level deals, or reasonably affordable contracts.
Sutter told the Times he was currently monitoring Ontario’s second-round playoff series against San Diego.
As for Lombardi — the guy in charge of the financials — he’s got a busy summer ahead. The club wants to retain power forward Milan Lucic, and is working towards a contract extension… but Lombardi said he doesn’t see a deal getting done anytime soon.
Decisions also need to be reached on UFAs like Kris Versteeg, Trevor Lewis and Luke Schenn.
RFAs Nic Dowd and Brayden McNabb also need new deals, but the really important RFA decisions come next year, when Tyler Toffoli and Tanner Pearson see their contracts expire.
UPDATE: Per the L.A. Times, it appears Sutter’s deal is done and will be announced Friday.
McLellan’s deal in Edmonton was a five-year, $15 million contract with a $3M annual salary, to give you an idea of what Sutter’s salary might look like.