Two or three months ago, I don’t think anyone would have batted an eye if I said that the chances of Dustin Penner or Jarret Stoll re-signing with Kings were about zero. We would have been talking about which rookies might make the team (e.g. Tyler Toffoli, Linden Vey, Jake Muzzin?), would Gagne return from his concussion, what should be done about the logjam at defense, and — given the way things were going before the trade deadline — was Dustin Brown the right captain for this team?
What a difference a few weeks (and blockbuster trade and a historic playoff run) can make.
We didn’t know that Dwight King and Jordan Nolan would be recalled and, even more surprising, that they would change the identity of the team. We didn’t know that Jack Johnson would be shipped off for Jeff Carter and that this would be a big boost to team…defense. We didn’t know that trade rumors would light a fire under Dustin Brown, turning him into a Conn Smythe candidate. And, probably most significantly where next year’s roster is concerned, we didn’t know that Dustin Penner and Jarret Stoll would erase their sub-par regular seasons with clutch playoff performances capped by series-clinching OT goals that will live on in Kings lore forever.
Penner, Stoll, Colin Fraser and Scott Parse are UFAs this summer. And — uh oh — Dwight King is an RFA. Dwight King will no doubt get a huge raise, I’m guessing to around $2 million. Colin Fraser deserves to get a new contract, and I think he’ll get one; also around $2MM, I think. Parse is likely to walk, and I fully expect him to fill nets for someone else. He has always been one of my favorite prospects, but I’m afraid the writing is on the wall for him in LA.
Now, Penner and Stoll. Let’s pretend you want to re-sign them. Stoll is 30, Penner will be 30 in September. If it weren’t for the playoffs, they would be in for a pay-cut. But now? I don’t think Lombardi can re-sign those guys and not reward them. I’m going to pull a figure out of my hat. $4MM/year for two years each. I don’t know if that’s too high or too low.
Re-signing those four guys — Penner, Stoll, Fraser and King — gives the Kings a cap-hit of $64.5MM. I don’t know whether the cap will go up or down, or will go down accompanied by a salary roll-back, or whatever. But I’m pretty sure the Kings can make those numbers work. And the 2012-13 Kings would end up looking pretty much exactly like this year’s post-deadline Kings. With a handful of significant differences.
Brown – Kopitar – Williams
Penner – Richards – Carter
Gagne – Stoll – Lewis
King – Fraser – Clifford
Scuderi – Doughty
Mitchell – Voynov
Martinez – Greene
Quick – Bernier
No room for Toffoli or Loktionov (or Vey, or Moller or Holloway). Kind of a log-jam of bottom-six big-bodies (Nolan, King, Clifford), which probably means Kevin Westgarth is out of a job. Richardson could become the Davis Drewiske of forwards. And Drewiske? Another year of not playing? I guess. Oddly, when I look at that line-up, it’s not a young team anymore. Not old, either. But seasoned, and — I hesitate to say it — in its prime.
And there are still two full seasons of Dustin Brown at $3.1MM. Is that the best deal Dean Lombardi ever made? I guess I’ll save that for another post…