July 1: The Kings have officially announced the contract, signing Doughty to an eight-year, $88MM contract extension. The deal will kick in for the 2018-19 season, and make Doughty the highest-paid defenseman in the league, barring an even bigger extension being signed before then.
June 29: A major impending free agent is about to be off the market, but it’s not a member of the 2018 class, but the 2019 class. When July 1st arrives and players with expiring contracts after next season are first eligible to sign extensions, Los Angeles defenseman Drew Doughty is expected to re-sign with the Kings. TSN Insider Pierre LeBrun reports that the two sides put the finishing touches on a max eight-year extension today that will be officially signed on Sunday. No financial terms have been disclosed.
The Kings are undoubtedly one of the teams that benefited the most from the massive salary cap spike this off-season. That added flexibility allowed L.A. to add much-needed scoring in the form of Ilya Kovalchuk without losing the breathing room needed to retain Doughty. For a time, many speculated that Doughty would test free agency next summer, but over the past few months the Norris Trophy-winner has made it clear that he would prefer to stay with the Kings. The team’s acquisition of Kovalchuk and continued search for talent this off-season was likely the very last boost of confidence that Doughty needed to re-up in L.A.
Doughty now joins fellow defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson of the Arizona Coyotes and center Logan Couture of the San Jose Sharks as potential superstar free agents who will instead sign on with their current teams as soon as possible. Doughty is the biggest name so far and, if previous reports prove true, will soon be the highest paid defenseman in hockey. Doughty has gone on the record as saying that he would like to be paid more than Nashville Predators blue liner P.K. Subban, who is currently the highest-paid defenseman in the league at $9MM AAV. LeBrun’s TSN colleague Darren Dreger is among many speculating that deal will land in the realm of $11MM per year over the eight years, which would make him the new top dog among defenders and the second-highest paid player in the league – at least until Erik Karlsson signs his next contract.