Justin Williams came up aces throughout the Stanley Cup playoffs for the Los Angeles Kings this year leading the Kings to their second Stanley Cup in three years, winning the Conn Smythe for Playoff MVP along the way. Williams is under contract for next season for a very reasonable $3.5 million, but will be a free agent next summer with teams lining up for his services. Dean Lombardi needs to do everything in his power to prevent this from happening.
Williams isn’t exactly a kid as he’ll be 33 years old in October, but he still has plenty of hockey left to play. A bump in pay would be in line as he has done nothing but great things since arriving in L.A. at the 2009 trade deadline. With teams giving out erroneous contracts at will I think there’s enough understanding between the Kings and Williams that a mutually beneficial contract can be worked out.
A three to four year deal worth between $4-4.5 million would allow Williams to make a little more money than his current contract is worth, while giving the team a proverbial “hometown discount”. Members of championship teams need to make sacrifices to keep their core intact and at times salary is one of those.
Former Los Angeles Lakers Head Coach Pat Riley outlined the “disease of more” that keeps great teams from sticking together. Players want more money, more minutes and more star power and the dynamic of the team is adversely affected. If the Kings can avoid falling into this predicament they’ll remain the class of the league.
By all accounts Williams is happy in L.A. and would surely continue his role on a contending team and end his career in the City of Angels. Locking him before he hits the market, preferably before the season even begins, can ensure this wish becomes reality.