The Los Angeles Kings are still in the hunt for a playoff spot in the Western Conference and it looks like it will come down right to the wire in the Pacific Division. As the team focus is all about what’s happening on the ice, let’s take a look at what might happen with their pending unrestricted free agents in the summer.
Who should stay and who should go?
Williams has been a clutch playoff performer for the Kings both times they went all the way and won the Stanley Cup. But at 33 years of age (turns 34 in October), it might be time for the Kings to say goodbye to Williams after this season. He still has a great upside, and if the Kings make it to the playoffs, he will be one of the team’s leading scorers.
But the Kings are tight against the cap, and Williams will most likely want a two- or three-year deal at about the same money he’s making now ($3.65 million cap hit) and it might just be too much for Los Angeles.
Williams would be one of the more interesting names if he would hit the open market as he’s a proven winner, and a contender or bubble team might think that Williams is the missing piece and hand out a well-paid four-year contract. I doubt that Williams would be willing to go down in salary as he still is a productive player and that his next contract could be his last, so his time to cash in is now.
Stoll is a great third-line center and he plays his role extremely well. But is he worth $3.2 million a year? If Stoll is willing to sign a one- or two-year contract for less money, then the Kings should definitely bring him back, but anything over $2.5 million/year for a third-line pivot is too much if you’re the Kings.
Sekera looks more and more comfortable with the Kings since coming over from the Carolina Hurricanes. He’s a very skilled defenseman and has helped to stabilize the defense and let Drew Doughty catch his breath every once in a while.
Sekera’s future with the Kings most likely depends on what happens in the Slava Voynov trial. If Voynov is convicted and his cap hit and salary is just taken off the books, then the Kings should do whatever they can to sign Sekera to a new deal.
Fans might have been expecting more of an immediate impact offensively by Sekera, but getting into the Kings system and adjusting to playing in the Western Conference is obviously the first priority, and with that playing simple is usually the best way to go, but I have no doubt that his production will pick up.
Regehr is a physical defenseman that has done a serviceable job during his time with the Kings, but at 34-years old he’s on his way down. He’s never been a speedy guy, but at times he looks like a traffic cone. Regehr is making $3 million this year and that’s way too much for a strictly defensive defenseman that in an ideal world would be on your third pairing.
The Kings need to free up that cap space as they have a couple of restricted free agents that needs to be signed, so letting Regehr go is the right move to make.
Replacing a tough and physical guy like him will be difficult, but they should be able to find a cheaper and slightly younger option on the free agency market or they might look at a guy like Derek Forbort that has played well in the AHL for the Manchester Monarchs.
McBain came in as a short-term solution when Voynov got suspended pending trial and the team had problems with cap space and injuries. He did a good job coming into to the Kings during a turbulent time, and he played as well as you would expect. He’s a serviceable seventh or eight defenseman and if you can give him a one- or two-year deal at the league minimum then go for it.
McBain was on a PTO with the Arizona Coyotes during their training camp in the summer, and he looked alright during his time their, but the Coyotes had way too many defenseman to offer him a contract and opted to go with what they had in house.
General Manager Dean Lombardi has a lot of work to do during the summer, and I think he hopes that the Voynov trial plays out as soon as possible so that he gets some more clarity about the situation for next season. The Kings have a couple of RFAs in Tyler Toffoli and Tanner Pearson that deserve a significant raise, and we’ll see if they will be given long-term deals right off the bat or if they both sign bridge deals. Backup goaltender Martin Jones is another RFA that needs to be given a new deal, as he has shown that he’s one of the better backups in the league and most likely a future number one.