The Drew Doughty sweepstakes have ended a year before they were slated to begin. The Los Angeles Kings announced Friday that they have agreed to terms on an eight-year contract extension with their prized defenseman.
The deal will reportedly be worth an average annual value just shy of $11 million, and will keep the perennial All-Star in LA through the 2027 campaign.
Doughty, who was slated to become an unrestricted free agent on July 1, 2019, becomes the Kings’ highest paid player and the wealthiest blue-liner league wide — until Erik Karlsson inks his next contract, at least.
Coming off a career-best 92-point campaign in which he won the Selke Trophy as the league’s best defensive forward while earning himself a Hart Trophy nomination, Kopitar will remain the highest-paid player in franchise history until Doughty’s extension kicks in next season.
It’s a move Kings Vice President and General Manager Rob Blake is ecstatic about.
“Drew Doughty is one of the best defensemen in the world and we are obviously excited to have reached this point in the process in which he has committed to the Kings long-term,” Blake said in a statement via the team’s website on Friday.
“This is great news for our organization and our fans and we will comment further once the contract has been signed and formally announced.”
Doughty joins Dustin Brown, Jonathan Quick, and Kopitar as core pieces who have signed deals of eight years in term or longer with the Kings in the past six years. Brown inked his $47 million extension in 2013, Quick re-upped at 10 years, $58 million in 2012, while Kopitar signed an eight-year, $80 million dollar offer in 2016.
Doughty’s new contract, though necessary, plunges the Kings even deeper into salary cap purgatory and will force the team’s brass to work some magic over the next couple of years in order to put a competitive team around him and Kopitar. LA will owe north of $50 million per season to a group of eight aging veterans by the 2020-21 campaign.
The Kings now have ~$54M in 2020-21 cap space tied up in:
38 year old Ilya Kovalchuk
36 year old Dustin Brown
36 year old Jeff Carter
36 year old Dion Phaneuf
35 year old Jonathan Quick
33 year old Anze Kopitar
33 year old Alec Martinez
31 year old Drew Doughty
— Dimitri Filipovic (@DimFilipovic) June 29, 2018
Whichever direction the Kings front office decides to go with this core going forward, it’s clear Doughty will continue to be a huge part of any potential Kings success as he has been since being drafted by Los Angeles with the second-overall pick in 2008.
He finished seventh among all blue-liners with 60 points in 82 games last season and played a crucial role in each of the Kings’ Stanley Cup victories in 2012 and 2014. Doughty was awarded the Norris Trophy as the NHL’s best defenceman in 2015-16.
The 28-year-old has amassed 102 goals and 422 points with a 54.9 percent Corsi while averaging over 26 minutes of ice time per game during his 10 seasons in LA.