September 29, 2011
The term is eight years. The money, evidently a sticking point late in the negotiation, is $56 million, according to Bob McKenzie of TSN. The player is defenseman Drew Doughty(notes), the team is the Los Angeles Kings, and this tense standoff between the two is finally finished just over a week before their season begins in Stockholm.
The Kings announced they had reached a verbal agreement with Doughty on Thursday night on a multiyear contract. According to TSN, it's an eight-year term with a cap hit of $7 million per season, making Doughty the highest-paid player in cap dollars on the Kings.
(UPDATE: The actual dollars via Helene Elliott of the LA Times are $6M, $6.5M, $6.7M, $7.0M, $7.1M, $7.45M, $7.6M, $7.65M. She reports there isn't a no-trade clause, which is very interesting.)
Please recall an earlier report that GM Dean Lombardi had declared Doughty would not make more than center Anze Kopitar's(notes) annual salary of $6.8 million. Score one for Camp Doughty, which had been seeking $7 million annually throughout the process and previously rejected a nine-year deal with a $6.8 million annual hit.
But, ultimately, the term makes this a win for Lombardi. Eight years brings this deal three years beyond Kopitar and one year beyond defenseman Jack Johnson(notes). One suspects this is a trade-off: The Kings pay him more than Kopitar, he commits to a franchise-player deal that runs through 2019.
He's now the third-highest paid defenseman in the NHL behind Shea Weber(notes) of the Nashville Predators ($7.5 million, and more next summer) and Brian Campbell(notes) of the Florida Panthers ($7.143 million). His cap hit matches that of Jason Spezza(notes), Jarome Iginla(notes) and Joe Thornton(notes) for 14th-highest for all NHL players (via Cap Geek).
The deal comes days after Kings CEO Tim Leiweke gave an extensive interview to the Los Angeles Times about Doughty's demands, the negotiations and the damage the stalemate was causing. From The Fabulous Forum in Monday, Leiweke said:
"We want Drew to come back. I want the animosity to disappear. I want our fans to take a deep breath here. Let us finish this off. It's just a business decision. If we get Drew done in the next week we should welcome him back with open arms here."
On Thursday night, Rich Hammond of L.A. Kings Insider asked Leiweke about the contract and what it means for the franchise:
"I feel good about the fact that we have someone that has the vision that Dean has, long-term, and is keeping the nucleus together. But he's also smart, and he knows eight years is eight years. And this kid is 21 years old. He's going to 29, and still in his prime, when he's done with this contract. That's a good thing for the franchise. The guy that isn't mentioned here, [owner Phil] Anschutz, he has broken the bank here. We are sending a very strong message to our fans. We're committed to winning, and we just proved it again.
"When you look at the commitments that we made this summer, when you add this to Mike Richards(notes) and his long-term deal, and Jack Johnson and the commitment we tied up there, and then going out and adding Simon Gagne(notes), we spent more money this summer than in the history of this franchise."
At the center of that nucleus, for the next eight years, is Drew Doughty. Was this the right term and value for him? (UPDATE: Doughty had a phone press conference and Hammond has the quotes; sounds like not missing the team's European trip meant something to Doughty.)
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