It has been a busy day for the Los Angeles Kings and new GM Rob Blake. After trading impending free agent goaltender Ben Bishop to the Dallas Stars for a fourth round pick earlier, the Kings have announced another shrewd deal no more than an hour later: young winger Tanner Pearson has agreed to a four-year, $15MM extension to stay in Los Angeles. An impending restricted free agent, Pearson had only limited leverage, but will carry a $3.75MM AAV for the next four seasons which is a number that both sides are likely very happy with.
In a season that was an overall disappointment for the Kings, Pearson was one of the few bright spots of the campaign. The 24-year-old posted a career-high 24 goals and 44 points and took on a much larger role on the team. Pearson led the team in shorthanded scoring and shooting percentage, finished behind only stars Jeff Carter and Anze Kopitar in points and just Carter in goals and his 20 assists, +5 rating, and 124 hits ranked in the top ten as well.
Yet, with just 44 points on the year and only 101 career points through four seasons, the Kings still held a significant degree of control in negotiations and were able to lock up a valuable young asset for a very reasonable rate. Pearson, who still shows signs of growth, will be a King until he is 28 at under $4MM per year. While he will make more than fellow youngster Tyler Toffoli next year, Pearson will likely be the fifth highest-paid forward on the team despite performing like the second or third-best in 2017-18. On the other hand, his contract compares to those of New York Islanders center Anders Lee and Dallas Stars forward Cody Eakin, whose play and skill set compare favorably to Pearson as well. It appears to be a good compromise all around for Pearson and Los Angeles, and the Kings can now turn to helping Pearson and his teammates out more by adding some more speed and skill to the forward corps this off-season.