On Sunday, July 1, the Los Angeles Kings agreed to terms with left wing Dustin Penner on a one-year contract worth $3.25 million. The team has now re-signed Penner, Jarret Stoll, and Colin Fraser this offseason while locking in goaltender Jonathan Quick to a 10-year extension.
I like what Kings general manager Dean Lombardi has been doing thus far in free agency. He's keeping his current team together for one more season, but he's also preparing for the future by not committing to certain role players long-term. That allows Lombardi some flexibility for both this offseason and next summer. If the 2012-2013 Kings struggle, then he'll be free to make plenty of changes next July.
Yet there is one more move that I wish would happen if possible: the Kings need a scorer. I'm not talking about a 100-point player or anything like that; I'm looking for someone who can give the team around 40 points next season. Then again, there aren't a lot players available in free agency that I believe could be counted on for those 40 points. So what should the Kings do? Should they count on Penner maintaining his playoff form when the new season starts? After all, the Kings are hoping that a one-year deal will motivate him to earn another contract.
"We want to make sure he's committed to the effort we saw the last two months and not the player prior to," Lombardi said when asked about Penner's new deal. I have to believe that Penner will give a better effort for the Kings since they showed some faith in him with the new contract.
However, even if Penner doesn't work out, there's another player with the potential for 40 or more points on the roster: Simon Gagne. The only problem with Gagne is that we have no idea if he can stay healthy for the entire season. I have no doubts that he is still capable of contributing to this team, but how can the Kings be assured that he won't be on injured reserve for most of 2012-2013?
With the somewhat shallow talent pool available in free agency and uncertainties within the Kings roster, I'm not sure what the club can do to find some added scoring. Maybe the team is better off standing pat and waiting to see if Gagne or Penner can step up next season. Or maybe the Kings' top players will pick up the slack. Either way, I don't think there are any other moves the team can make this offseason unless, by some miracle, it signs Zach Parise.
Derek Ciapala has been a Kings fan since the late 1980s. His favorite Kings moment is when they beat the New Jersey Devils in six games to win the 2012 Stanley Cup Championship. You can follow him on Twitter @dciapala or on Facebook.