Kings’ Pearson in line for a hefty raise

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With 22 goals this season, Tanner Pearson has already broken his previous career mark of 15.

And given he’s a pending restricted free agent, it should be an interesting contract negotiation with the Los Angeles Kings, whenever the two sides get down to talking.

Among Kings, only Jeff Carter has more goals (30) than Pearson does. Tyler Toffoli, with 12 goals in 46 games, is third on the team, and he needs a new contract, too.

For now, Pearson says he’s focused on helping the Kings make the playoffs.

“That matters the most right now,” the 24-year-old said, per LA Kings Insider.

But looking ahead to the summer, GM Dean Lombardi may have to shed salary in order to get Pearson and Toffoli locked up. It certainly doesn’t help that veteran wingers Dustin Brown and Marian Gaborik are taking up more than $10 million in cap space combined.

With the expansion draft looming, and with so many teams looking for help on the back end, Lombardi could always explore trading Jake Muzzin or Alec Martinez to free up cap space.

Granted, then the Kings would have to replace one of those veteran defensemen, and that’s always a risk. But they’ve got some young guys in the system who could possibly fill the void.

Regardless of what Lombardi decides, it’s going to be a fascinating summer in Los Angeles — especially if the Kings miss the playoffs.