Sutter said sticking with Kings was ‘clear and easy,’ but knows changes are coming

AP
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There wasn’t much debate on whether Darryl Sutter would return to coach in Los Angeles. He said it was a straightforward decision to sign a three-year contract extension.

“Clear and easy,” is how Sutter described it on Friday’s conference call. “I wasn’t interested in going elsewhere.”

The tough part, though, will come when the Kings get together next season.

If one thing has been made abundantly clear by the talks Sutter and GM Dean Lombardi have had with the media in recent days, it’s that Los Angeles will look to its farm system for some contributions at the NHL level next year.

“There’s always change — that’s a fact,” Sutter said today. “There’s usually at least five changes a season.

“We have the good fortune now of the players playing in the American League playoffs that we’ve had up and down during the season. They’re good players. That’s how you grow.”

Sutter wouldn’t give specific names, but it’s not hard to figure out who he was referring to. AHL Ontario farmhands Kevin Gravel, Nic Dowd, Derek Forbort and Michael Mersch all got games last season, while Andy Andreoff and Nick Shore made the biggest impacts, both appearing in over 60 contests.

It also stands to reason that prized prospect Adrian Kempe (29th overall, ’14) could get a look as well.

“You need those guys to make the same sort of impact that those boys [L.A.’s core players] made on our team,” Sutter explained. “We need two or three of the next group to do it now. That is key for us.”

Without reading the tea leaves too intently here, one has to wonder if the Kings — who don’t have a ton of cap space — will look to their farmhands and prospects, rather than try and ink UFAs or be active on the open market.

Which brings us to Milan Lucic.

The club wants to retain the burly power forward, and Lombardi is working towards a contract extension… but Lombardi also 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.

Add it all up, and it promises to be an interesting offseason in Los Angeles — one that started on Friday, as the Kings accomplished their first big goal of the summer.