As was reported yesterday, the Kings and Matt Greene have agreed upon a four-year contract extension that will keep the 31-year-old signed through the 2017-18 season. The deal has not been signed and is not official at this point.
Darren Dreger reported earlier today that the average annual value of the contract was 2.5 million dollars, a figure that represents the same amount LA Kings Insider had learned of. With 2.5 million allocated to Greene, the Kings would have roughly 10.6 million dollars to assign to a combination of unrestricted free agents in Marian Gaborik, Willie Mitchell, Colin Fraser and Jeff Schultz, and restricted free agents in Dwight King, Linden Vey and Brayden McNabb, according to CapGeek.com. Signing Gaborik to an extension is obviously the team’s top priority in advance of July 1, while the futures of Mitchell, Fraser and Schultz appear unclear. The estimated space is based on a 71.1-million dollar salary cap; it is expected that the cap will jump from 64.3 million dollars in 2013-14 to above 70 million dollars in 2014-15.
While a four year contract appears to be a long window for Greene, who has totaled 43 games while battling injury over the last two years, he is valuable in serving a well defined role as a team leader and a third pairing right-handed defenseman who logs important minutes on the penalty kill. His Corsi-for percentage was 1.3% higher than the average player on the Kings, a top possession team, though he started 56.6% of his shifts in the offensive zone. Leading all right-handed Kings defenseman with an average of 2:41 of shorthanded ice time per game, he has been a central figure in Los Angeles’ ability to etch out an identity as a stingy defensive team with quality penalty killing.
Greene was particularly good during the Kings’ 26-game playoff marathon. After re-entering the lineup for Game 7 against San Jose, he missed only one game the rest of the way and turned in fine performances in each of the club’s three Game 7s. With two assists and a plus-five rating in those three games, Greene also contributed a 68.5% Corsi-for performance in the ultimate games against San Jose, Anaheim and Chicago. When he was on the ice against Chicago in Game 7, 20 of 24 shot attempts were directed at the attacking net, and while he was on the ice against New York in Game 5, 24 of 33 shot attempts were directed at the attacking net. It’s a small sample size – and Greene isn’t going to be any type of possession whiz – but he certainly continued to prove his worth during the most important games of the season this past spring when he was a preferred option over Robyn Regehr, a similar (though lefthanded) defenseman who missed most of the final three rounds due to a knee injury sustained against Anaheim in Game 1.
There’s also the factor of loyalty, which forms a strong bond between General Manager Dean Lombardi and the players who have not only won with the team but have been integral in upholding the club’s burgeoning culture. Greene is one of those players, and though there isn’t a statistic that measures such an intangible, the intangible does exist. As an alternate captain, he was relied upon so much for his presence in the room and extracting every iota of will and hustle out of himself and his teammates that he was often sent out for warm-ups and played a role in the dressing room even before games in which he would not play. For a team that drew widespread recognition for its constitution and ability to remain confident in the face of adversity or deficits, that goes a very long way.