Slava Voynov of the Los Angeles Kings has locked up a six-year deal ensuring his talent to be available in LA until he is about age 30. As expected, the deal averages about $4 million a year, $25 million total, which were the numbers coming out of the Kings’ Insiders over the weekend.
The length of the contract is quite substantial, and with new rules in the Collective Bargaining Agreement, the offer was impossible to front load or have final-year bonuses and buy-outs. Unfortunately for the Russian defender, despite his last two seasons in the NHL, he will not be seeing $7 or $8 million a year like teammates Drew Doughty and Willie Mitchell are expected to receive next season.
Those three players are half of the Kings’ defensive corps. Jake Muzzin and Matt Greene leave one opening for one of these men:
Keaton Ellerby is a young defenseman with a reputation for strong defensive capabilities but not much offensive striking.
Alec Martinez was a solid performer two years ago but then saw his roster spot snatched up with a trade deadline addition.
Robyn Regher just signed a two-year deal with the Kings and is likely to be their depth position D-man.
Rob Scuderi, a free agent and two-time Stanley Cup Champion, is the most likely not to re-sign with the team this summer.
A typical team only carries 7-8 defensemen on their roster and most often the lesser. Though Ellerby could be sent to Manchester, he would have to wait a year to get back on the squad because of waiver concerns. It is a similar situation with Martinez. Remarkably, it was the Kings’ decision of whether to keep Voynov or Martinez that ignited the trade for Jeff Carter from Columbus last year for defenseman Jack Johnson.
It looks like over half of the cap room could be gone well before the draft. If the Kings don’t hit the salary cap too hard, they may still be able to sign Scuderi and other notable free agents rather than allow them to leave the team.
The most expensive ones on the list are Scuderi and Dustin Penner, and they are also unrestricted which means the player has no obligation to sign a matching offer from the Kings if another party shows interest. Brad Richardson, the second fastest skater on the team, is the only other unrestricted free agent in addition.
Trevor Lewis, Kyle Clifford, Jordan Nolan, Muzzin and Martinez are all restricted free agents. Out of these players, Clifford has the highest trade value and has been sought by the Vancouver Canucks for two seasons. Muzzin just wants out of his rookie deal to make some real money, which is still limited due to his age. Nolan and Martinez are the most expendable to the team, especially if they sign Clifford.
It should be said that Trevor Lewis is getting better every game. In a brief conversation with Dean Lombardi during Lewis’ season, the GM called him promising. When his speed was mentioned, Lombardi remarked, “We haven’t seen anything yet.”
If he can calm himself down when controlling the puck, he will be an elite forward. His work ethic is second to none, and he seems to keep his feet moving when he should be collapsing from a coronary episode. For all my money, Trevor Lewis is the hardest working man in the United States. The Kings should keep him until he retires.