The Kings entered the free agency market in a manner entirely new for everyone from Tim Leiweke and Dean Lombardi in the front office, to Jarret Stoll on the ice. However, it’s fair to say that the Kings did exactly what they needed to do to not only spend wisely and effectively, but efficiently so they could keep the team intact for another Stanley Cup run. Let’s break it down by signing:
Jarret Stoll: 3 years, $9.75M. ($3.25 AVV)
With Stoll being a UFA, the Kings had internal options, including calling up Andrei Loktionov and moving Trevor Lewis back to center. But despite scoring just six goals in the regular season, Stoll’s value as a third line center was just too much to allow him to walk. Keeping both his ability to win faceoffs and kill penalties is huge asset for the Kings, especially when you consider he took a slight pay cut to stay in Hermosa Beach.
Dustin Penner: 1 year, $3.25M. ($3.25 AVV)
Penner was terrible in the regular season, just as he was for the Kings in 2011. However, his play in the playoffs was superb and exactly what Lombardi was looking for when he traded for Penner last February. Penner gelled on the line with Richards and Carter, and really has whetted the appetite of Kings fans and management to see how potent that line could be for a full season. Penner is the grinder, while Richards is the playmaker and Carter is the sniper, making it a perfect scoring line. Given the fact that Penner was willing to take both a pay cut AND just one-year deal to prevent cap issues that will arise next summer, the Kings got a steal by re-signing Penner. Plus, by keeping Penner and opting not to go full-bore for Zach Parise, the Kings were able to keep Simon Gagne as both a trade commodody and a potentional valuable asset to the Kings’ third line as a scorer. If Penner falters, Gagne is there to play alongside Richards and Carter, and if Penner scores, well the Kings struck gold.
Jonathan Quick: 10 years, $58M. ($5.8 AVV)
Quick wasn’t a free agent this summer, but you can’t say that signing Quick didn’t affect the Kings’ 2012-13 season, even if his contract doesn’t take effect for another 12 months. By having Stoll take less money, and opting to go after Penner, Quick’s signing was clearly the priority of the offseason for Lombardi. Not only did the Kings lock up him for 10 years starting in 2013, but did so in a rather affordable manner. The contract is front loaded, which makes it easier for the Kings to ditch Quick in the later years of his contract should he become ineffective. Also, the cap-hit is about a million dollars less than what was expected, freeing up more room for the Kings to lock up players like Slava Voynov, Trevor Lewis and Alec Martinez next season.
The Kings didn’t get Zach Parise, nor did they look at swinging a deal or throw money towards Ryan Suter. Instead, they were mindful of the salary cap and Jonathan Quick’s contract, as well retain all 20 players on the Stanley Cup winning roster. Oh, by the way, if the Kings decide to make a run at Shane Doan, they can now. Yes, that’s an ‘A’ grade, even without signing the biggest free agents. Go figure.