Roundtable: Drew Gonna Get That Money

While Rob Blake was working on a real contract, we worked on a fake one.

When rumblings of an impending deal for Drew Doughty got louder, the JFTC staff put their heads together and decided to play GM for a day. While the Kings and Doughty were in the midst of announcing an eight-year, $88 million contract for the blueliner, we were tinkering with our own contract talks.

How long do you think Doughty should have been signed for? Do you think 8 years is too long? If yes, how much term should he have gotten?

James H.: I’d love to sign him to six years but know that isn’t going to happen. I think an 8 most likely as the standard has been set for top players at his age. I don’t think 8 is too long of a deal, as Doughty will likely hold value through the term.

Eric: 8 years. Would I sign him to less in a perfect world? Sure, but I assume Doughty doesn’t budge on this, and he shouldn’t. That extra year is his reward for sticking around. (I don’t think it’s too long anyway, as I’m confident he’ll be a solid player and/or a tradeable asset even after he turns 35.)

Sarah: Is eight years too long? Probably, but there’s absolutely no way he’d accept a shorter contract. If he was going to take less years, he’d want even more money, which is probably a show-stopper for the Kings. He’s still young-ish after all — the Kings aren’t handing out an eight-year contract to someone who’s already past 30 — and even if he slows down, skating-wise, his hockey IQ is a huge part of his game.

James L.: Doughty is being groomed to become the franchise player for the Kings after Anze Kopitar gets old. So eight years is fine. The issue, however, is that Doughty has not shown enough leadership so far.

How much do you think he’s worth? (either AAV or total)

James H.: I think Drew is worth what any other defenseman in the league is getting, so at least $11 million. I’m really, really hoping he doesn’t get it.

Eric: He’s worth an $11 million AAV. (Don’t tell him I said that.)

Sarah: What they said. Welcome to your new highest paid King.

James L.: Doughty has a problem with melting down at the wrong time. His unsportsmanlike conduct penalty against Chicago in the late regular season cost the Kings the game. His head hit during the Vegas series earned him a suspension, ruining any remaining playoff hopes for the Kings. Consistency is also a factor--he has been on the ice for 5 GA against St. Louis and all 3 GA against New Jersey this past season.

What would you give him? (That’s different than what he’s worth).

James H.: I would give him free rent at Toffoli’s place and dental services for life, but this is obviously a pipe dream.

Eric: I ask him if he’ll sign for 8 years / $9.5 million AAV. He laughs in my face and tells me he should be the team’s highest-paid player. I then offer him 8 years / $10.001 million AAV while driving home the “we need you to take this deal so we can continue to build a decent team around you” point and hoping he listens. If he doesn’t I’ll throw in the extra million and tell him he can’t complain when he gets a new partner every season.

Sarah: Doughty and his camp are going to look at the contracts of players like PK Subban, Brent Burns, and Victor Hedman. (Shea Weber’s contract is an outlier and should not be counted.) And they’re going to say: “isn’t Drew better and more accomplished than these guys?” And the Kings aren’t going to have much of an argument back the other way. I think you start with the Subban contract at $9m AAV and hope you can meet in the middle from what his ask is.

James L.: Doughty has directly cost the Kings games and it is a serious problem. If Kopitar gets $10 million, Doughty should not exceed him. $9 million at most and even that’s too much.

In an ideal world, what should his cap hit be? Is that a fair AAV?

James H.: Ideally, Drew’s number falls between $9.5 - $10.5 AAV. It would mean the world to the team’s plans if he took less, but I have no expectations that he will and believe he should push for every dollar he can get (like every other player). Given his value and resume, and the contracts of others on the team, I think anything in this range is very fair.

Eric: In an ideal world, he gets ~$10.5 million. As a percentage of the salary cap, it’s right in line with Anze Kopitar’s $10 million AAV when he signed his long-term deal.

What’s a sticking point? Where do you draw the line and let him walk if he won’t comply?

James H.: If it comes out that Drew is refusing anything less than an $11 million AAV, I think the Kings should consider seeing what he’s worth on the trade market.

Eric: Don’t tell him I said this, but I don’t have a line. Part of it is that I’m an incredibly smooth talker. More of it is that letting him walk would be an enormous mistake. Most of it is that I know I’m getting fired as GM if I don’t seal this deal.

James L.: Honestly, I don’t want to be saddled with two $10M contracts like Chicago. Vegas has shown the league the new way to succeed in the NHL: less emphasis on superstars and a more balanced team in return. The third and fourth lines of the Knights killed the Kings. The Cup window has all but closed for Kopitar and company. Unfortunately management is stubborn and thinks this core still has a chance, and that is why it overspent on Ilya Kovalchuk. It would have been much better to trade Doughty for several pieces to shore up the second and third lines.

However, with the signing of Doughty appearing imminent, it has become crystal clear that the Kings will not be able to afford Tyler Toffoli and Tanner Pearson when it’s their turn to re-sign. I believe that a Max Pacioretty rental trade still has a viable chance. If the Kings get Pacioretty--one of the most dynamic, prolific players in hockey today--the Kings will be exciting to watch in 2018-19.

What do you think? Fair contract? Overpay? Will the Kings regret it when Doughty’s 35? Does it matter if they win another Cup? What if they don’t? Sound off in the comments!