It’s looking like July 27 might not be a very dramatic day for the NHL. Los Angeles Kings defenseman Alec Martinez was scheduled to be the sole player receiving salary arbitration on that day, but it didn’t take long for the two sides to agree on a two-year deal instead today. Financial terms weren’t revealed, but Martinez probably didn’t get much money.
This two-year deal is a mild vote of confidence for Martinez, but he’s not guaranteed a steady spot in the Kings lineup. Kings GM Dean Lombardi clearly values stockpiling options on the blueline, because the team’s depth chart is stacked in that position. Looking at younger, less-established defensemen alone, Martinez will probably fight for playing time with the likes of Viatcheslav Voynov, Thomas Hickey and Nicolas Deslauriers in the near future and prospects such as 2010 first round pick Derek Forbort during the life of this deal.
It seems like he has the short-term leg-up on some of those guys, though. Martinez played in 60 games for the Kings in 2010-11 after starting the season in the AHL with the Manchester Monarchs. Martinez scored 15 points in those 60 games and seems like a semi-decent (but not game-changing) offensive defenseman in a depth position for Los Angeles.
Brad Richardson ranks as the only other Kings player set for salary arbitration, but the team’s most obvious question mark remains with restricted free agent superstar Drew Doughty. Lombardi can make all the right moves (and it might be true that he has, with great contracts for guys like Simon Gagne and the fantastic value of the Mike Richards trade) but the franchise’s future will be shaped by what happens with Doughty.
We’ll keep you informed about those negotiations as the 2011-12 season approaches and the Kings hope to generate their best chance for a Stanley Cup run in a long, long time.