The Los Angeles Kings have obviously been impressed with Austin Wagner over the last two years and have decided to reward him. The team has announced a three-year contract extension for the 23-year old which will carry an average annual value of $1.133MM. Wagner was scheduled to become a restricted free agent this offseason when his entry-level contract expired.
While the deal provides Wagner with some stability, it also represents a chance for huge excess value in the Kings eyes. Wagner has only registered 32 points in 127 NHL games but possesses blazing speed that represents a tantalizing weapon for Los Angeles.
A little over a year ago, Wagner expressed his desire and belief that he can become a perennial 20+ goal scorer for the Kings if he keeps working hard with the development staff. Those comments were followed by just a six-goal campaign (in 65 games) but were actually some marked signs of improvement. Wagner generated nearly twice as many shots on goal as the year prior while increasing his average ice time to nearly 12 minutes.
The Kings obviously still believe in the young forward, who only turned 23 in June and can provide some value on the defensive end even when he isn’t scoring.