It took less than an hour into the free agency period for Rob Scuderi to officially leave the LA Kings. He’s the first piece of the team’s 2012 Stanley Cup team to move on, as he’s agreed to a new four-year contract with the Pittsburgh Penguins.
His new deal has an average value of $3.375 million per season.
It was a situation that hadn’t looked promising in LA for several months. As reported by MayorsManor back in February, both sides had admitted to having preliminary conversations about a contract extension. However, by May, a deal still hadn’t been struck.
With the salary cap coming down next year and more than a handful of Restricted Free Agents still to sign, the Kings probably had a maximum of $3M available to sign the 34-year old defenseman.
Lombardi, who had gone on record as saying Willie Mitchell’s career may be over, moved quickly in May to sign newly acquired blueliner Robyn Regehr. If he wasn’t able to get him under contract, Lombardi and coach Darryl Sutter could have been looking at the possibility of starting next season without Mitchell, Regehr and Scuderi. Going 0-3 in that area wouldn’t have done much to stabilize a defensive group that has been nothing short of outstanding over the last three years.
On a more positive front, Mitchell’s status has more recently been referred to as encouraging – see here for Lombardi’s comments from just a few weeks ago.
Additionally, with the signing of Keaton Ellerby on Thursday, we’d expect the Kings to now focus their attention on trying to find offense from the left wing position.
On a side note, Scuderi was a true professional in the LA locker room. He was almost always available for comments after games – even when the Kings took heartbreaking losses, like the ones in San Jose during the playoffs. His sarcastic, dry-humor was also loved by several of his teammates – most notably Dustin Brown, who he often carpooled to the rink with.
Click here to see why Brown nominated Scuderi for the funniest guy on the team.