Kings sign goaltender David Rittich to one-year contract extension (AAV: $1,000,000)

The first domino of the offseason, Insiders!

The LA Kings have signed goaltender David Rittich to a one-year contract extension, carrying an AAV of $1,000,000 at the NHL level. The contract is a one-way contract for the 2024-25 season.

Rittich re-joins the Kings for another season, coming off a pretty impressive 2023-24 campaign in which he out-earned the contract he signed over the summer. Rittich originally committed to the organization to be the third goaltender, signing a one-year contract on July 1. Rittich began the season in the AHL, with the Ontario Reign, and was outstanding as he waited for his opportunity. It came under unfortunate circumstances, as goaltender Pheonix Copley tore his ACL during a practice in December, but Rittich stepped in and did not look back. The Czech netminder posted a record of 13-6-4, with a .921 save percentage and a 2.21 goals-against average from 24 appearances with the Kings, setting career bests in SV% and GAA.

Instant Analysis –
Coming out of exit interviews, I think there was a feeling that at least one of the team’s goaltenders would be back. The answer, for now, is that Rittich is for sure returning to the organization on a one-year extension.

First off, this is a no-risk signing for the Kings from a salary-cap perspective. The Kings are limited on what they can do this offseason from a dollars and cents perspective, but adding Rittich at a one-million dollar cap hit is extremely manageable. It allows the Kings to add another goaltender with a higher salary if they so choose. It also locks in a player who proved to be a pretty solid fit with the organization at an extremely manageable cap hit, one that he outperformed last season as well. Rittich initially signed for $875,000 and performed like a high-caliber NHL rotational goaltender. Outperformed what is expected of a backup, in my opinion, posting numbers that justified a place in a split situation. Under contract for another season, it puts one of the team’s two goaltenders into place at not much more than the league-minimum rate. Getting a player who is a known quantity at that price is a good get.

In terms of the goaltender, the Kings played Rittich in Games 4 and 5 of the playoff series against Edmonton, as well as some big games throughout the second half of the regular season. Rittich was the goaltender who won several big games coming out of the All-Star break. Without his performance in wins like Edmonton and New Jersey in those early games under Jim Hiller, the Kings are perhaps not a playoff team. He deserves credit for that. Of the 98 goaltenders to play in the NHL this season, Rittich ranked 15th in goals-saved above expected with 11.0 in total. About a half goal per game, at all strengths, when Rittich was in net. That’s good stuff.

The Kings are also getting a “character” in the locker room, as it’s been phrased throughout the course of the season. Rittich is a passionate and dialed in goaltender when he’s between the pipes, but he’s a guy who keeps things pretty light in the room. HE’s got perhaps the best nickname in existence for a goaltender, Big Save Dave, and brings a familiarity amongst the existing core.

With regards to how he fits into the larger picture, Rittich makes it seven forwards, five defensemen and one goaltender under contract with the team for next season. As noted on Monday, when you factor in those players, plus other salary-cap totals, the Kings now have $67,888,333 in committed salary-cap space as of today, using the totals presented by Cap Friendly. A good contract, which does not handcuff the team in any way moving forward. Hard to poke many holes into this one.

From the team’s official release –

Rittich, 31, split the 2023-24 campaign between the Kings and their American Hockey League (AHL) affiliate Ontario Reign. With the Kings, Rittich posted a 13-6-3 record in 24 games while establishing career-bests in goals-against average (2.15 GAA), save percentage (.921 SV%) and shutouts (3). Rittich also suited up for two Stanley Cup Playoff outings, where he accumulated a 2.56 GAA and .872 SV%. In 16 outings with Ontario, Rittich established a 7-6-3 record with a 2.63 GAA, .901 SV% and three shutouts.

The 6-4, 205-pound netminder recorded his first win as a member of the Kings on Dec. 19, 2023 in San Jose to become the third Czech-born goaltender to win a game in Kings history. In the team’s first game following the All-Star Break on Feb. 10, Rittich stopped all 26 shots faced against Edmonton to record his fifth career shutout and first as a member of the Kings. By doing so, Rittich joined Roman Cechmanek (5) as the only Czech-born goaltenders in franchise history to record a shutout for the club.

Rittich returns to the Kings having played parts of eight NHL seasons with the Kings, Winnipeg Jets, Nashville Predators, Toronto Maple Leafs and Calgary Flames. In 196 career NHL games, Rittich has accumulated a record of 92-57-24 with a 2.78 GAA, .906 SV% and seven shutouts. A 2020 NHL All-Star Game participant, his best NHL season came in 2018-19 with the Flames where he established a record of 27-9-5, setting then-career marks in wins, goals-against average (2.61), save percentage (.911%).

Originally signed as an undrafted free agent by Calgary in 2016, Rittich played in two seasons (2016-18) with the Stockton Heat of the AHL, going 22-16-5 with a 2.53 GAA, .914 SV% and seven shutouts. In four Calder Cup Playoffs games, Rittich went 2-1-0 with a 2.88 GAA and .917 SV%. The Jihlava, Czechia native has represented his home country at the 2018 IIHF Men’s World Championship, posting a 2-1-0 record with a 1.98 GAA, .900 SV% and one shutout.

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