When the offseason began for the Los Angeles Kings last weekend, when they were eliminated from the Stanley Cup Playoffs in Game 5 of the Western Conference Finals, we already knew what priority no. 1 was going to be for them: signing restricted free agent Slava Voynov to a new deal.
As it would turn out, the Kings look like they’re already getting pretty close to doing just that. Despite interest from the KHL, as one could probably expect with any available Russian player, the Kings and Voynov are hammering out a deal and could be set to announce one soon.
Assuming that all goes according to plan, not always the safest best in contract negotiations, Voynov is expected to see a major jump in his cap hit, from six figures on his entry level deal, to as high as $4 million a year on a new long-term contract, perhaps even a touch higher than that. If what we saw in 2013 is any indication, though, he’s going to be worth every penny.
Voynov has always had the potential of being an offensive weapon from the blue line, but had to wait it out a bit to finally get his opportunity, even considering jumping back over to Russia at one point. But he built on a solid rookie campaign this year with a fantastic regular season, followed by an even more stellar playoff appearance.
His regular season saw Voynov post 25 points, a new career high in the shortened season. In the postseason, he nearly matched that production. He was a big time player for a Kings team that needed scoring anywhere they could get it. He finished with 13 points, including six goals, four of which were game-winners. He put up at least one point in each of the last four games in which the Kings were still in the postseason.
It’s pretty clear that Voynov’s intention is to return to Los Angeles, rather than head back to Russia. He’s finally found a permanent spot with the Kings and has morphed into a player that is not only an offensive weapon from the defensive side, but a capable player in his own zone as well. This payday will be well worth it for both sides.