It seemed obvious that the Los Angeles Kings wanted to make some big moves this offseason in an effort to jumpstart their rebuild. They made a significant move on Wednesday by signing free agent center Phillip Danault to a six-year, $33 million contract.
That comes out to a salary cap hit of $5.5 million per season.
Along with Danault, the Kings also signed former long-time Vancouver Canucks defenseman Alex Edler to a one-year deal.
Let us focus on Danault here because he is the by far the more impactful signing. He was one of the more sought after players on the open market this summer given his outstanding two-way play at center, and signing him was always going to be expensive.
[Related: Every free agent signing by all 32 NHL teams]
Over the past four years in Montreal he has become one of the league’s elite defensive, shut down centers while also having enough offensive ability to chip in around 50 points. That combination is pretty rare and makes him an extremely valuable player. He was always going to get a significant contract in free agency, it was just a matter of where it was going to be.
Now we know it is the Kings.
He will almost certainly slow into the second-line center spot behind Anze Kopitar, giving the Kings a pair of outstanding two-way centers to roll out every night. Given that Kopitar can still play at an exceptionally high level that should give be a nice foundation to build on on the short-term.
The Kings’ other big move this offseason was to acquire Viktor Arvidsson from the Nashville Predators in exchange for a couple of draft picks.
Los Angeles also still has one of the league’s best prospect pools.
Edler does not figure to be much of a difference-maker anymore, but his contract (one year, $3.5 million) carries very little risk and would seem to indicate that the Kings only view him as depth on the blue line and not a major contributor.
Still, the fact they spent big money on Arvidsson and Danault, while bringing back all of their other veterans, indicates that the Kings intend to try and compete for a playoff spot this season. In that division they might actually have a chance.