In a Cross Checks Blog post on Thursday, Pierre LeBrun of ESPN.com wrote about several topics that are of particular interest to Kings fans.
In addition to explaining the delay on the Kings’ expected cap relief in the wake of Slava Voynov’s indefinite suspension, LeBrun also provided an update on the parameters of contract negotiations between Alec Martinez and Los Angeles.
Jake Muzzin recently signed a new deal that will pay him $4 million a season starting next year. The sense is the Kings would like to get Martinez below Muzzin’s $4 million AAV; the Martinez camp have comparables that suggest he’s worth $4 million or more — at least on the open market.
Martinez wants to sign an extension and remain with the Kings, no question about it, but the knowledge that he could score big on a weak July 1 UFA market is something that’s a reality, in case talks don’t progress.
Martinez politely declined to speak on behalf of the negotiations following today’s practice, saying “it’s the reason why you have an agent.”
“Let them take care of that stuff so I can worry about playing hockey. I don’t really think about it,” he said.
When asked whether the circumstances of playing for the Kings and living in the South Bay were ideal for a professional hockey player, he offered what amounted to be a strong affirmation.
“I think that the biggest thing is the group of guys. At the end of the day we’ve got a really good group of guys in here,” Martinez said. “Obviously L.A.’s the only thing that I know being drafted here, but talking to guys that have played in other places, they say that we’ve got something special here, and I’m a believer in that. There are probably not many teams [where] you get all the guys hanging out together at once. I think maybe the South Bay has a little bit of something to do with that and the fact that everyone’s just geographically really close to each other, just a bike ride away. But it’s also a testament to what management has done in bringing in good guys and good players and guys who get along. Obviously it’s a great group to be a part of.”
The Kings are walking a tight financial tightrope, given that Jarret Stoll, Justin Williams and Robyn Regehr are due to become unrestricted free agents on July 1, while Kyle Clifford, Tanner Pearson, Tyler Toffoli, Jordan Nolan, Andy Andreoff and Martin Jones will be bound for restricted free agency. Current Manchester Monarchs Nick Shore and Jordan Weal will also need new (and less expensive) contracts, and there is a good chance they would factor into the team’s future plans as well. They’ll have a very rough ballpark of $13-18 million dollars to spend on their free agents – the salary cap is tied to league revenues, which are rising and should exceed this year’s $69M cap by some margin – and given that Anze Kopitar is eligible to negotiate a new contract on July 1 that would begin in the 2016-17 season, the Kings’ prudence in such contract negotiations will surely be an asset.
Last year, the team chose to enhance its defensive depth by acquiring Brayden McNabb from Buffalo at the trading deadline. Given that Martinez is 27 years old and that there is a question whether there are players in Manchester capable of stepping into the 19:10 time on ice per game that Martinez has averaged thus far in 2014-15, his re-signing is among the team’s high contractual priorities this season.
Martinez has two points (1-1=2), a plus-six rating and a 54.2% Corsi-for rating in 11 games this season. Selected in the fourth round in 2007, he has 57 points (24-33=57) and a plus-29 rating in 214 career games.