If you’ve been following along closely over the last six months, you’ll easily recall that MayorsManor has reported on numerous occasions that one of GM Dean Lombardi’s top priorities in 2014 has been to find a shutdown defenseman. Since the loss of Rob Scuderi last summer, and knowing Willie Mitchell had only one year remaining on his contract entering the 2013-14 season, finding somebody to fill that slot has been of paramount importance. Lombardi looked at a myriad of deals throughout the season, but once it became apparent they weren’t going to be able to pry a top-notch player like Shea Weber or Dan Girardi free from their current teams, Lombardi went the youngster route. In an admitted costly trade, Lombardi dealt two of his prized prospects for Buffalo’s Brayden McNabb back in March. As mentioned when we first broke that story, the Kings view him as the best defenseman not playing in the NHL over the past two seasons.
According to our sources within the team, McNabb will be given every opportunity to earn a spot playing alongside Slava Voynov coming out of training camp. Although he’ll likely platoon as part of the Kings second D-pairing to start the season, if he hasn’t earned that spot by January 2015, look for Lombardi to once again hit the trade market and actively look to acquire a shut down defenseman.
Earlier today, the Kings signed McNabb to a new two-year deal that will pay him $625,000 in 2014-15 and $675,000 in 2015-16.
The 23-year-old left-handed shot was originally selected in the third round of the 2009 NHL Draft by Buffalo. He has 37 games of NHL experience with the Sabres, but has primarily been in the AHL – including 14 games with the Kings’ AHL affiliate in Manchester after the trade. It is believed his shot is underrated, but what the Kings love about him most is his toughness. Because people love comparables – and Kings fans are now beginning to see why we used to refer to Jake Muzzin as “Willie Mitchell light” – think of McNabb as being a younger, better skating version of Matt Greene.
Additionally, the Kings also signed 23-year-old forward Andy Andreoff to a new one-year contract today.
MayorsManor had him listed 8th in our most recent rankings of the Kings Top 10 prosects (linked here) and we expect him to make the opening night roster this coming season.
Andreoff’s new contract is a two-way deal that will pay him $550,000 in the NHL and $60,000 in the AHL (with a $67,500 guarantee). It is important to remember though, in order for Andreoff to be sent to the AHL, he would first have to clear waivers – and we don’t see that as a possibility.
If Kyle Clifford was once viewed as Wayne Simmonds 2.0 when he was breaking into the league, you can certainly think of Andreoff as Clifford 2.0. Yet, there are some notable exceptions. While they both share a love for the physical side of the game, Andreoff can play center or wing, and likely has a better scoring touch.
This past year in Manchester Andreoff posted 35 points (11 goals, 24 assists), a team-leading 133 penalty minutes and a plus-5 rating over 76 regular season games. He was originally selected by the Kings in the third round at the 2011 NHL Draft.
Both players were in Los Angeles for much of the Kings’ recent Stanley Cup run, serving as members of the Black Aces.
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