Dean Lombardi: Might take Kings 'a while' to re-sign Drew Doughty [Updated]
Asked Tuesday if there were anything new regarding his negotiations with Doughty, Lombardi said no, and added this via email:
"I am getting the feeling on Drew that unfortunately this could take a while. As we just saw this past week free agency produces a frenzy for players at all levels. We must be judicious about not getting into this market for our own players. Therefore it is critical with Drew that the dollars reflect a fair rate of return regarding the term of the contract. We must be prepared to do what it takes to get it right."
Lombardi also said the Kings would match any offer sheet Doughty might sign with another team. It's unlikely any team would make an offer of a magnitude that would entice Doughty away, because paying him that much money would leave that team little room to pay the support players necessary to build a winner. Also, Doughty grew up a Kings fan.
A lot of crazy money was thrown around on unrestricted free agents last week, with a good chunk of it in front-loaded contracts that included early signing bonuses structured to give players a hefty payout before Sept. 15, 2012, the date the current collective bargaining agreement ends.
The Kings could be waiting on the results of defenseman Shea Weber's negotiations with the Nashville Predators, using his next contract as a comparable in negotiating with Doughty. The Predators elected to go to salary arbitration with Weber, who played with Doughty on Team Canada at the 2010 Olympics, but the Predators and Weber could also negotiate a contract before an arbitrator rules.
The Tampa Bay Lightning's talks with restricted free agent center Steven Stamkos would probably have less effect on the Kings' situation with Doughty because the two play different positions. Stamkos and Doughty were chosen first and second, respectively, in the 2008 NHL entry draft and are represented by Don Meehan of Newport Sports, which is based outside Toronto.
Lombardi and Meehan have exchanged proposals but didn't talk last week while Lombardi was in Newport Sports' offices unsuccessfully trying to sign unrestricted free agent Brad Richards.
The Kings' highest-paid player is center Anze Kopitar, who will soon begin the third year of a seven-year, $47.6-million contract that has an annual salary cap hit of $6.8 million and runs through the 2015-16 season. Kopitar formerly was represented by Meehan but is now represented by Los Angeles-based Pat Brisson.
I've contacted Meehan but haven't heard back yet. I'll provide an update later if there's any news.
[Updated at 1:09 p.m.: Meehan said via email, "There is nothing new to report concerning any further discussions concerning Drew Doughty."]
-- Helene Elliott
Photo: Drew Doughty. Credit: Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times.