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.
No way they could sign him for four years. Defense should still be pretty good next year – if Mitchell comes back healthy, they’ll be better than this year. Getting some goals out of the left wing (and hell maybe a left wing that actually has a left hand shot – what a novel idea) should have been the number 1 goal anyway.
I dunno about that. I would’ve spent Regher+Penner money on Scuderi. Weak at D is a much bigger hole than weak at LW IMO. Regher’s immobility was exposed in the playoffs and will continue to be next season. Ellerby is a 7th defenseman at best and who knows what is going on with Martinez. There is no guarantee or even likelihood that Willie will be healthy, or that he won’t get hurt again right away with his bad knees.
John Hoven says
Here’s part of the problem with that line of thinking, it takes two sides to get a deal done. The Kings started talking to Scuderi about an extension in February, by May he hadn’t signed. At that time, they also believed there was a good chance Willie Mitchell wasn’t coming back. So, with Scuderi heading towards UFA, there was a chance they would end up losing all three of those players come July. Lombardi didn’t want to take that risk and moved to secure at least one of them (Regehr).
Now, the bigger question is this. Assume the Kings were probably offering 34-year old Scuderi a two-year deal. The Penguins gave him a four-year deal. If Scuderi came back to the Kings one last time and said, ‘Match the offer and I’ll stay’ – would you have wanted them to do it?
I wouldn’t have matched the four-year deal if I was the GM.