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Drew Doughty not expected to report to Kings' camp Friday

Drew3
Barring a late and surprising move, it’s unlikely that unsigned restricted free agent Drew Doughty will report to the Kings’ training site in El Segundo on Friday with the rest of his teammates.

The 21-year-old defenseman was in Canada late Thursday, according to his agent, Don Meehan. Players’ physicals are scheduled to start around 7 a.m. Friday at the Toyota Sports Center.

Meehan said he had sent correspondence to the Kings on Thursday in response to communication he received from them by email and FedEx.

“We responded after we had discussions with Drew,” Meehan said by phone Thursday.

“We’re committed to being engaged in discussions and we’re more than willing to talk. I think the next step is for the Kings to respond to our correspondence.”

Kings General Manager Dean Lombardi declined to comment on the negotiations. In his last public statement, on Sunday during the Kings’ Hockey Fest event, he said he hadn’t given up on having Doughty in camp from the start. “I don’t know if I expect it but I have hope,” he said then, adding that the two sides still had differences over length and money.

Those differences apparently have not been resolved.

The Kings started out offering Doughty a nine-year deal believed to be worth an average of $6.8 million per season -- the same average annual value as center Anze Kopitar’s contract. They might have gone above that average to lock Doughty up long term, but after the concept of a nine-year deal was rebuffed they retrenched to a maximum of $6.8 million for anything shorter.

Doughty doesn’t want to sign for nine years and lose several years of potentially becoming an unrestricted free agent. A deal of six to eight years is more likely to be the end product.

Doughty’s value is difficult to pin down. He has shown he’s a singular talent, with a second-year performance in which he earned an Olympic gold medal, and was a finalist for the Norris trophy as the NHL’s top defenseman. But he reported to camp in less than optimal shape a year ago,  suffered a concussion early in the season and needed a while to regain his timing. Defensemen with his skills and skating ability are rare, but the Kings have to factor in how he fits in their salary scale.

They also have to project what might happen if he remains unsigned and how it would affect the team in the locker room and on the ice. Doughty is a vital presence in the room besides being a dynamic player, and it wouldn’t be easy for the Kings to replace him.

We’ll keep you posted as things develop.

Also, the Kings' rookies defeated the Phoenix Coyotes' rookies, 4-3, in a rookie game at El Segundo. Jordan Weal and Linden Vey each scored once and Jordan Nolan scored twice.

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-- Helene Elliott

Photo: Kings defenseman Drew Doughty. Credit: Jason Redmond / Associated Press

 
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