Brad Richardson became the latest restricted free agent to come to terms with the Kings on Wednesday, avoiding arbitration with a two-year deal that pays $1 million in 2011-12 and $1.35 million in 2012-13.
His annual salary-cap hit of $1.175 million is reasonable for a player who has a 14-goal season to his credit, kills penalties, adds speed to a relatively slow group of forwards, and can play all three forward positions. Richardson won 50.8 percent of his faceoffs last season, third on the team. He jelled with Kyle Clifford and Wayne Simmonds — who has since been traded to Philadelphia –during the playoffs, and his five points (two goals, three assists) in six games matched Clifford for the team lead.
According to capgeek.com, the Kings still have $10.7 million of cap room to play with.
Which leads to the question of who will be the next to sign.
It probably won’t be Drew Doughty.
General manager Dean Lombardi said that talks with the RFA defenseman would continue “maybe next week.” Doughty, who is represented by Newport Sports, could still be lured by an offer sheet from another team, which would be the first of the summer.
Several clubs can both afford Doughty and use his services. Capgeek.com lists Winnipeg, Phoenix, Colorado, Nashville and the New York Islanders below the $48.3 million salary-cap floor. The Islanders need roughly $10.5 million just to reach the floor. But Lombardi, as he has since the season ended, didn’t seem bothered by the prospect of an offer sheet Friday.
Meanwhile, he said the team is “close” to reaching a deal with restricted free-agent forward Trevor Lewis. “That’s not going to be an issue.”
Unrestricted free-agent defenseman Peter Harrold is not close to signing a new deal.
“We’ll see how things play out over the summer,” Lombardi said. “He’s such a good trouper in terms of, he didn’t get a lot of ice time but never once did not show up ready to work. He’s probably looking to see if there’s the potential for more of an opportunity. He’s certainly a guy you like to have in your organization, but I don’t blame him for looking for more of an opportunity.”
So it looks like Lewis and Doughty are expected to be the final pieces of the puzzle; Lewis would give the team 13 forwards and Doughty would be the seventh defenseman. Assuming goalies Jonathan Quick and Jonathan Bernier aren’t going anywhere, that leaves the Kings with only one roster opening, probably for a forward, going into training camp.
The list of candidates is long. Andrei Loktionov, who split last season between L.A. and Manchester before a shoulder injury ended his season, has to be considered the favorite.
If Doughty and Lewis sign, and training camp started the next day, there is your storyline.