Going into this year’s post season the Los Angeles Kings are in a bit of a bind. Money is tight and there are several key players that need to be resigned. General Manager, Dean Lombardi is going to have his work cut out for him once July 1st hits and contract negotiations and signings can happen.
At the moment the Kings have just over $9,000,000 in cap space. The big signing of the offseason will have to be Tyler Toffoli as he is set to become a restricted free agent. Toffoli will likely grab a sizable chunk of change, locking up more of that cap space. The rest of the forwards like Justin Williams, Jarrett Stoll and Nick Shore will all play out. But that’s not what we’re focusing on here.
Where Lombardi will have to put in some extra time is the Kings’ blue line. The Kings already lost Robyn Regehr to retirement and both Andrej Sekera and Jamie McBain will become free agents at the start of free-agency. Assuming the forwards are set, Lombardi’s main focus should be on the Kings’ defense.
Here are four blue liners that Lombardi should consider bringing into Los Angeles.
1. Andrej Sekera
Bringing Sekera back to Los Angeles is the ideal situation. The Kings grabbed Sekera from the Carolina Hurricanes at this year’s trade deadline, but got just a taste of what Sekera brought to the table during his 16 games with Los Angeles before his MCL injury. Sekera is coming off of a four-year contract worth $11 million with a $2,750,000 cap hit, one that he signed with the Buffalo Sabres.
Lombardi has to hope that Sekera will be open to a discount price to stay in Los Angeles and play with fellow countryman Marian Gaborik. If the Kings can convince Sekera to stay in Los Angeles they would avoid a lot of headaches. But, if Sekera decides to test the free-agency the remaining blue liners on this list might be able to fill the hole.
2. Jeff Petry
Petry was supposed to be the big blue liner available at the deadline back in March. Petry is seen as a mobile puck-moving defenseman, with a big body and even bigger offensive upside. Petry was eventually moved from Edmonton to the Montreal Canadiens at the deadline and played a major role in the Canadiens’ playoff run.
Now Petry’s contract is expiring and the Kings should try to slide in and bring Petry to Los Angeles. The Kings were apparently in on bringing Petry into town at the deadline, but eventually grabbed Sekera instead. Well, four months later the Kings might have another chance at Petry wearing a Kings sweater.
Much like Sekera the Kings will have to talk Petry into taking a bit of a pay cut because he can likely get more money elsewhere. But if there is anyone that can work a little magic and get his guy it is Lombardi.
3. Francois Beauchemin
Signing Beauchemin could kill two birds with one stone. Beauchemin would bring 12 years of NHL experience along with him which would fill the veteran spot left by Regehr’s departure, and Beauchemin would be able to jump into a top two defensive pair with the Kings. Beauchemin is a solid stay at home defender, much like Regehr, and has a booming shot.
At 34-years-old, Beauchemin is on the back-end of his career and is coming out of a contract that saw him earn $3,500,000 a year over the last three years. A new contract with the Kings shouldn’t break the bank. Come free agency, the Kings should try to lure Beauchemin away from the Anaheim Ducks, up the I-5 and into Staples Center.
4. Mike Green
Green might be the Golden Ticket when it comes to defensemen in the free-agency this summer. Green is coming off of a three-year contract with the Washington Capitals where he carried an average cap hit of $6,083,000 a year. Green is an offensive defenseman that can quarterback a power play and find the back of the net.
This is probably the longest of long shots for the Kings. There will likely not be enough money to bring in a guy like Green and with players like Drew Doughty and Jake Muzzin the Kings likely don’t need a player like Green. But sending a message Green’s way and maybe planting a seed wouldn’t hurt anyone. You know, the whole throw the fishing line out and see what bites strategy.
Of course all of this depends on money. The first domino will be Toffoli. Once Toffoli is locked up and we know how much money he will be making over the next couple of years the rest of the pieces should fall into place.
Eric received his BA in Journalism from California State University, Northridge. Eric has contributed to RinkRoyalty.com, Buffalowdown.com and California Rubber Magazine.