Los Angeles Kings: Will team bring back any free agent defensemen?

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Los Angeles Kings Ben Hutton
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Of the three defensemen on the NHL roster, will the Los Angeles Kings retain any of them?

While the Los Angeles Kings are one of the teams boasting the most available salary-cap space, don’t expect general manager Rob Blake to spend big this offseason. Next year will primarily be about calling up the highly-touted prospects and identifying where they fit on each line, both offensively and defensively. However, the Kings have three defensemen on the NHL roster subject to free agency this year.

Ben Hutton will be an unrestricted free agent, and the 27-year-old is projected to receive a handsome payday in the form of a five-year contract with a $4.3M AAV per Evolving Hockey. The former fifth-round pick of the Canucks scored four goals with 12 assists and a +5 rating in 65 games this past season.

In terms of value, Hutton was good for an aggregate of 6.7 goals above replacement (GAR) this season, which put him in the 80th percentile for defensemen. However, the 2019-2020 season was a career-year for him, as he recorded a 1.2 WAR, despite having a -0.6 WAR for his career.

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Source: Evolving Hockey

That’s a massive financial commitment to a player who played well in a contract year and could potentially regress to the play of the previous four seasons. There could be a scenario where the Kings and Hutton agree to a two or three-year bridge contract at a much lower AAV, but if he (Hutton) is looking to cash in, it’s best for Blake to walk away.

Keep in mind that Hutton recorded a -4.3 GAR with the Canucks last year and has a career 48.9 percent Corsi, buoyed by a 55.8 percent Corsi during the 2019-2020 season. Which version would the Kings be getting in his next contract?