One of the first big decisions for new Kings GM Rob Blake has been made.
Per Mayor’s Manor, Los Angeles opted for the eight skaters and a goalie format for its expansion protection list: Forwards Anze Kopitar, Jeff Carter, Tyler Toffoli and Tanner Pearson; defensemen Drew Doughty, Jake Muzzin, Alec Martinez and Derek Forbort; and goalie Jonathan Quick.
It’s not a huge surprise the two were exposed. Both have rather onerous contracts — Brown, 32, carries a $5.875 million cap hit through 2022, while Gaborik, 35, is locked in through 2021 at $4.875M per.
In April, L.A. announced that Gaborik underwent an “in-depth medical procedure for a chronic issue related to his left knee.” The surgery means he’ll be questionable for the start of training camp, and could miss some time to start the year. Gaborik struggled through this past season, scoring just 10 goals in 56 games while missing extensive time with a foot injury suffered at the World Cup.
Brown hasn’t experienced such health issues — he’s missed just two games over the last three years — but his production has tailed off. He posted back-to-back 11-goal seasons in ’14-15 and ’15-16 and, prior to this year, had his captaincy taken away and given to Kopitar.
The gritty winger did bounce back with improved numbers, scoring 14 goals and 36 points this season. But he’s clearly not the impact player he was earlier in his career.
On defense, the Golden Knights could make a play for Brayden McNabb. The 26-year-old carries a $1.7 million cap hit appeared in 49 games last year, this after playing a career-high 81 in ’15-16. McNabb missed extensive time with a collarbone injury in ’16-17, and also sat as a healthy scratch.