Among the Kings myriad of roster issues needing to be addressed over the next two months is what to do with pending unrestricted free agent forwards Jarret Stoll and Justin Williams. Both were critical pieces to the team’s two Stanley Cups. However, given the salary cap issues facing GM Dean Lombardi, there likely won’t be room to keep both of them.
Williams is believed to be looking for a 3-4 year deal in the $4 million per season range. Barring some serious trades of current roster players, the Kings just don’t have that type of cap space available next season. As such, the 2014 Conn Smythe winner is expected to be playing in a different uniform come October.
The Stoll situation is a little trickier, but at least he seems to understand his spot on the team would be changing, especially as young Nick Shore is penciled in as third-line center moving forward.
Kings Jarret Stoll on possible return "I would come back in any role"
— Dennis Bernstein (@DennisTFP) April 11, 2015
There could potentially be a fourth-line center role available to Stoll, but it would have to come at a greatly discounted rate – likely, one-year at around $1-1.5 million.
Following the Kings exit interviews at Toyota Sports Center earlier today, Anze Kopitar, Dustin Brown, and coach Darryl Sutter spoke about what life might be like next season without Stoll and/or Williams…
Kopitar on the thought of possibly playing next season without those two forwards:
“Obviously you want to see everybody come back just because we just gel as a group. We became really tight. It’s going to be tough if the guys don’t come back. With Willy and Stolly and whoever the case may be…I love the guys and it’ll be tough to see them go, but I guess when you look at the bigger picture, it is a business. They have to do what they think is right for them and we have to respect their decision and it sounds like I’m not going to like them anymore. [laughter] It’s just going to suck that if that happens, we won’t be playing together. “
Kopitar on where Stoll makes the biggest impact:
“Everywhere. He’s one of those louder leaders. You can definitely hear him everywhere. That’s probably the exact opposite from me and Brownie. But that’s the thing that makes this group special. Everybody can just be themselves and go about their business and be so close to everybody. It’s special. If you miss a couple guys, it’ll be a tough one to swallow, but that’s the way it is.”
Brown on the thought of some current roster players not returning next season:
“It definitely goes through your mind as part of being part of that group, as much as you want everyone to stay, it’s easy to see people come in , but it’s hard to see people go. It’s the nature of the business, unfortunately with how things work, but it’s not an easy thing to think about, especially when we didn’t finish this year the way we wanted to. It’s also about trying to refocus on what we need to do to be playing.”
Brown on where Stoll’s influence felt most:
“I would say probably in the room. He’s a very vocal guy. He brings a lot of energy. He has a really good attitude and that’s probably the biggest thing for us is we have a lot of guys who are really positive in the room and that goes a long way when things get hard, to try to stay upbeat, because we’ve found out it’s your attitude that makes the difference in pulling yourself out of it. We’ve been able to find ways to do it. This year we fell a little short but it wasn’t from a lack of our attitude or any of that sort of thing and he’s huge in that part.“
Sutter on the potential loss of several players from the 2014-15 roster over the next few months, including Stoll and Williams:
“If they’re here, my job as a head coach is to push them, and if they’re somewhere else, I’d cheer for them. Same thing when we won. It’s got nothing to do with not making the playoffs how I feel about those guys. It’s part of a big family that won two championships. Unfortunately sometimes a family has to go somewhere else to continue their careers. If there was a way for all our players to be back, I’d want them all to be back. That’s the way I feel.
Sutter on where Stoll’s biggest contribution is – the locker room, the bench, the ice:
“I think all of the above. I don’t think that’s changed. His role hasn’t changed one bit since we won our first championship here. He may have had a different role prior to that, or in Edmonton, but his role here doesn’t change. Guys get older and their roles change and minutes change and all that, that’s natural. You don’t get retirement contracts any more. There’s a salary cap and there are good teams and the league is too close. I think with Stolly, [he] missed all of training camp. Say what you want, our goal in this last training camp was to get him in [just] one game. So you think what the last few years [have done] in terms of a toll on him. He had hip surgery, and then he had the medical issues. It wasn’t an easy year for Jarret by any means when he got hurt again. Those guys are all the same to me. You can leave 23, and it wouldn’t bother me if it was the same 23 [players].”
MayorsManor correspondent Jonathan Davis recorded additional audio with Kopitar – where he reflected on a down season and shared thoughts regarding his potential contract extension coming up this summer – in an article posted here. Additionally, we have a plethora of interesting comments provided by Dean Lombardi at yesterday’s end-of-season media session – see the links down below.
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