Sources have told TSN that Los Angeles Kings GM Dean Lombardi has made it clear to Drew Doughty's agent, Don Meehan, that the Kings have no intention of paying Doughty more than Anze Kopitar's $6.8 million annual average salary. It's believed Doughty wants a minimum of $7 million per season, but the Kings are offering seven years at $6.8 million per, so the question is: Who's going to blink? Given the possibility of a deal not getting done before training camp opens and Doughty holding out, the temperature inside the Kings offices is rising to the point it's been suggested the Kings may pull their offer by the end of the week.
Once again, the Kings have managed to put themselves in the middle of one of hockey’s messiest offseason stories. [...] Remember, at one point, the Kings hoped to have Doughty signed prior to the start of the free-agency period [...]. Perhaps that was part of the problem. From their perspective, the Kings went big early, deciding in July that they would be willing to give Doughty a contract equal to — or actually, in total, greater than — the one they gave Anze Kopitar in 2008. They thought that would be enough. By all accounts, it isn’t.
What's funny about that -- the idea that the Kings led with their best offer -- is that, if you recall, Lombardi and Meehan were so far apart back in June that Helene Elliott referred to Meehan "blistering" Lombardi, and Lombardi executive Jack Ferriera (sp?) characterized the first meetings with the alarming quote, "Sweet Fancy Moses! They don't want to make a deal." (Okay, he didn't say Sweet Fancy Moses.)
Thus the problem. The Kings showed, in July, what they claimed (and still claim) was their best hand, and for two months they have remained adamant that they won’t budge. [...] So here we are, as one talented league pundit put it, waiting for one side to blink, and with Doughty’s side — if reports are accurate — potentially seeking $7 million a year for a 21-year-old defenseman with 239 NHL games but with a Norris Trophy nomination under his belt.
But it's mostly the term, right? Doughty doesn't want to give up UFA years, and he's too young for it to make sense to add a "tail" to the contract to bring the cap hit down.
Plus, as I said yesterday,
if Doughty is willing to hold-out because he only is getting 97% of the money he wanted ($7mm minus $6.8MM), how loyal is he likely to be when he (if he gets his way) hits UFA status in five years?
[...] The Kings aren’t nearly the same team without Drew Doughty. In the short term, his absence would most benefit rookie Viatcheslav Voynov, who would see increased reps, but Doughty’s absence would loom over the locker room.
If they're winning, it will barely register as an issue. If they're losing, yeah, then Doughty's absence would "loom."
In a season in which expectations and hopes are high for the Kings, how much of an impact would this make?
I can't remember where I just typed this -- comments section somewhere, I think -- but one effect of Doughty holding out is that the high expectations and hopes are automatically curbed. Which is a good thing. The Kings have not performed well lately when expectations were high.
Should the Kings bite the bullet, and give Doughty what he wants, or hold their line and continue the staring contest?
We're going to run some numbers on that very topic, in the next post. Stay tuned.