The Los Angeles Kings have come to terms on a long-term extension with one of their more under-rated contributors. Defenseman Sean Walker has signed a four-year extension with the club after completing just his first full NHL season. The contract carries a $2.65MM AAV, all in base salary, with the following salary breakdown: $2MM in 2020-21, $2.25MM in 2021-22, $3MM in 2022-23, and $3.35MM in 2023-24. When the contract expires in 2024, Walker will be an unrestricted free agent.
Walker, 25, played in all 70 games for the Kings this year, logging more ice time than all defensemen but Drew Doughty. Walker’s five goals and 24 points also trailed only Doughty among club defenders. Walker is also a capable checker and shot-blocker, but his true talent lies in moving the puck and creating offense. A standout at Bowling Green State University who made an immediate impact in the AHL with the Ontario Reign as well, Walker showed in 39 games with L.A. last season that he was already ready to help at the NHL level as well. However, a major boost in per-game scoring and possession led to an increase in ice time and a role that few expected for Walker in his first full NHL season. The Kings are ow hoping that he can continue to improve and take on more responsibility over the course of his next extension.
With Walker signed long-term, avoiding arbitration, the Kings’ greatest RFA hurdle of the off-season is already complete. Only the likes of Nikolai Prokhorkin, Matt Luff, and Sheldon Rempal remain meaningful RFA’s in need of a new contract. On defense, Doughty and the Kings’ young core are all signed through at least next season. The team will have to make a call on UFA’s Ben Hutton and Joakim Ryan, but could instead opt to search the free agent and trade markets for another impact veteran to complement Walker and company.