The Los Angeles Kings decided against buying out Mike Richards, they signed Marian Gaborik to a seven-year deal and locked up Matt Greene.
All those moves were made in the interest of keeping the Kings’ Stanley Cup-winning team intact, but their cap situation would only allow for them to go so far. It looks like 37-year-old defenseman Willie Mitchell will be the odd man out as the team doesn’t feel they have the space left to sign him, per LA Kings Insider.
The Kings are close to the ceiling, but that likely wasn’t the only consideration. They already have six blueliners signed to one-way contracts now that Matt Greene is under contract and that doesn’t include restricted free agent Brayden McNabb, who might start the season with the team.
It’s also believed that Mitchell wants a two-year deal, which might have made the Kings nervous given his age. It would have also complicated matters next summer as Kyle Clifford, Tanner Pearson, and Tyler Toffoli will all need to be re-signed at that point.
Matt Greene didn’t win an NHL award on Tuesday. But he’s coming off another Stanley Cup championship and has just signed a four-year contract extension with the L.A. Kings.
According to Capgeek.com, the deal comes with a $2.5 million cap hit, although the details are not fully confirmed yet.
Greene appeared in 20 playoff games for the Kings, recording four assists. He was also named the team’s Most Inspirational Player, named in honor of the late Ace Bailey, at the conclusion of the regular season.
He endured injuries again this season, one of them believed to be an upper-body injury. He was also evaluated for a concussion in January, and was in and out of the lineup through the end of the season and first round of the playoffs.
The Kings and Greene had been closing in on a new contract, with the rugged defenseman headed for unrestricted free agency this summer. He is coming off a five-year, $14.75 million deal.
It’s looking like Matt Greene will be sticking around Los Angeles for a while.
Jon Rosen at L.A. Kings Insider reports Greene and the Kings have agreed on a four-year extension to keep the 31-year-old defenseman in the fold. He’s coming off a five-year, $14.75 million deal and would’ve been an unrestricted free agent on July 1.
Greene was part of the Kings’ third defensive pairing with Alec Martinez during the Stanley Cup Final this year and provided the toughness and physicality as opposed to Martinez’s more skillful game.
Greene has been with the Kings for six seasons since being acquired along with Jarrett Stoll in a trade with the Edmonton Oilers in 2008 in exchange for Lubomir Visnovsky. Safe to say the Kings won on that deal.
The Los Angeles Kings are in a difficult position when it comes to Marian Gaborik. They clearly would like to bring him back after acquiring him at the trade deadline sparked their offense and he proved to be one of their most effective players in the 2014 playoffs, but they are limited by their proximity to the salary cap ceiling.
They have reportedly offered him a three-year, $15 million contract, which would be a pay cut for Gaborik and probably less than he would make on the open market. So the question is if Gaborik would be willing to take less to stay with a team he just won the Stanley Cup with.
In that regard, a recent statement by Marian Gaborik’s agent, Ron Salcer, should give Kings fans some hope.
“I think Marian enjoyed, not just the time here, but everything about the experience,” Salcer told the Los Angeles Times. “I think to continue that is something he would like and the team would like. So I would hope we could come to a meeting of the minds and get that done.”
It’s worth adding that if the Kings successfully re-sign Gaborik, then that will likely negatively impact their chances of re-signing defensemen Willie Mitchell and Matt Greene.
The Colorado Avalanche are coming off of a breakout season that pushed the question from if they can make the playoffs to what steps can they take to close the gap between them and the championship Los Angeles Kings.
One thing they might do is add a complimentary defenseman to help give their team the depth it needs to play at that level.
“We’re not that far away on defense,” Avalanche coach Patrick Roy said, according to the Denver Post. “You look at (Erik) Johnson, who had a really good year, we have (Tyson) Barrie, who played really well at the end of the season, and we have Nick Holden, who we think is a solid defenseman.
“Are they where (the Kings are)? The answer is no, but now the (question) is, ‘Who are we going to add?’ You cannot just add the top players. You have to have a great mix, and you look at some teams as a model, and I think L.A. is a good example. If we could get the good mix — stay-at-home, physical defensemen playing with high-skill defensemen — I think that’s the approach that we’d like to have, and I think we’re heading in a pretty good direction.
“I think the future of our franchise on the defensive side of the game is a lot better than people think it is.”
Colorado might even target Willie Mitchell or Matt Greene to help close that gap as one or both of them could end up on the unrestricted free agent market after winning the Stanley Cup with the Kings.
Meanwhile, the Avalanche are also trying to retain pending unrestricted free agent Paul Stastny and re-sign restricted free agent Ryan O’Reilly while staying within their budget parameters.