One piece of Dean Lombardi’s summer chemistry project is now complete. With defenseman Slava Voynov agreeing to a six-year, $25 million deal, the Kings’ GM can now move on to other pieces of the puzzle.
First though, a few notes on Voynov.
Originally selected by LA in the second round of the 2008 NHL Draft, Voynov has been playing pro hockey in North America now for four seasons. However, much like his coach, Darryl Sutter, he’s yet to spend a full 82-game season with the Kings.
After two years in Manchester (AHL), he came to camp in September 2011 looking to earn an NHL job. Then-coach Terry Murray constantly praised him and he was one of the last roster cuts that fall, as there just wasn’t a place for him yet on a deep LA blueline. When he was initially sent back to the AHL, Voynov was told by Murray and Lombardi he ‘was an NHL player’ and his time was coming soon.
Sure enough, the Kings did find room for him though a series of call-ups and – as has been well documented – he was finally given a full-time gig following the trade of Jack Johnson to Columbus.
Over his rookie season of 2011-12 Voynov collected 20 points (eight goals, 12 assists) in 54 regular season games. He backed that up by playing in all 20 games of the post-season, en route to the team’s first Stanley Cup in franchise history.
According to Lombardi, Voynov’s agent had requested the team allow him to return to Russia during the NHL lockout (to play in the KHL) – something that was not approved. Instead, the 23-year old once again suited up for the Kings’ AHL affiliate in Manchester, where he posted 16 points (seven goals, nine assists) in 35 games.
When the NHL resumed play in January, Voynov was arguably the Kings top offensive weapon among the defensive core.
Now, for the next six years he looks to be penciled in on the team’s second D-pairing, behind Drew Doughty and his partner. He’ll also see plenty of time on the power play.
The big question is, who will Voynov be partnered with?
Lombardi has a number of other contracts to be worked out, including decisions on Restricted Free Agents like Keaton Ellerby, Jake Muzzin and Alec Martinez.
Applying Voynov’s $4.16M cap hit to the Kings’ payroll, they have already committed $56.76M of the allowed $64.3M salary cap for next season. Meaning, Lombardi only has $7.54M left to spend at the moment… and needs to sign/slot eight more players to field a 23-man roster.
Here’s a rough line-up card using only guys under contract (ignore any debate about line combinations for the moment):
Dustin Brown – Anze Kopitar – Justin Williams
Mike Richards – Jeff Carter – Tyler Toffoli
Dwight King – Jarret Stoll – [open, LW3]
[open, LW4] – Colin Fraser – [open, RW4]
Robyn Regehr – Drew Doughty
Willie Mitchell – Slava Voynov
[open, D5] – Matt Greene
Three healthy scratches (none signed at the moment)
Will there be enough money left over to re-sign Scuderi? Is Mitchell coming back?
If the answer to either question is no, where does Lombardi turn?
A full analysis and explanation of the Kings salary cap situation and options can be found here. It’s a must read for any Kings fan.
Lombardi’s latest update on Willie Mitchell - June 2013
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