The LA Kings have landed unrestricted free agent forward Phillip Danault on a six-year contract with an AAV of $5.5 million.
As MayorsManor first reported on Twitter, the deal also has a No Trade Clause (NTC) for the first few years, then a Modified NTC for the final two.
Danault comes with seven years of NHL experience after originally being drafted by the Chicago Blackhawks 26th overall in the first round of the 2011 Draft.
He only played 32 games in the Windy City before spending the bulk of his career in Montreal. With the Canadiens, the Victoriaville native played more than five seasons and was often one of their better defensive forwards. In total, he’s recorded 199 points in 392 NHL games.
The signing could put LA’s Opening Night lineup something similar to this:
Iafallo – Kopitar – Arvidsson
Kempe – Danault – Brown
Athanasiou – Vilardi – Andersson
Moore – JAD – (Forward 12)
We explored this idea, as well as which forwards will round out the roster, in a detailed article linked below.
Here’s what we’ve been able to learn thus far:
— Of all the UFA forwards out there, LA was most interested in a center. They already had the addition on wing in Arvidsson. In Danault, they get a player who is solid defensively and can take some of the pressure off of Kopitar playing such a heavy workload, especially on the penalty kill.
— Danualt gathered most of his points 5×5 the past few seasons, an area the Kings needed help.
— He gets a lot of votes for the Selke Trophy; he’s just not a power play guy. The Kings will certainly be tougher to play against with him at center. They can add scoring along the wing in future years, either via internal candidates or through free agency. It’s much more difficult to add centers like Danault via free agency. The signing isn’t just about this year. It’s a depth move for the future too.
— What LA also likes about this deal is it allows Vilardi and Byfield to grow into their roles. When either is ready for the 2C, Danault can drop down to 3C.
— For the 2021-22 season, Byfield will either play 3C (with Vilardi moving to wing) or start off with AHL Ontario, as discussed here. Until he’s ready for heavy minutes on a full-time basis in the NHL, they have an insurance policy in Danault that allows them to field a roster worthy of contending for a playoff spot.
— The Kings continue to be intrigued by Tkachyov, their newest Russian forward. They’re not sure what he’ll do in camp and if he can earn an NHL roster spot. However, they knew he had little chance to line up alongside a very young NHL center. The signing of Danault gives him a better chance at legitimately fighting for a spot.
— Wagner and Grundstrom could end up as the waiver casualties in all of this. And JAD being waiver exempt does give them another option. Meaning, he could start the season with AHL Ontario while they sort out all of these bottom-6 players.
— From what we understand, the Kings were at about $2.5M in their previous offers to Athanasiou. They knew they were close before the qualifying offer was due, so they qualified him to block other teams talking to him. They landed at $2.7 today and signed the deal. They like the player. He fit in nicely to the team, the system, and was better defensively than he’d been advertised.
— Vilardi to wing is an option. Turcotte is most likely moving to a more regular role on the wing. As we’ve noted several times, he looked really good there in the second half of the season with Ontario.
— Perhaps the best part about the Danault deal is it gives the Kings plenty of options moving forward. When that young LD1 becomes available, they have the picks and prospects to make that trade.
— Edler is a bridge for depth. More on that signing posted here.
AAV will be 3.5M https://t.co/dAO5NZEsOw
— John Hoven | The Mayor (@mayorNHL) July 28, 2021
— This completes their big three items on their summer shopping list, a top six forward (Arvidsson), a middle six forward (which was preferably a center, hence Danault), and a depth defenseman (Edler).
— As we understand it, the general plan among Kings management is to continue to add in about two young players each season. Nobody is in a hurry to force feed rookies into the LA lineup.
— FWIW: Lias Andersson will be on the hunt for a new number, as Danault will likely take 24.
LA GM Rob Blake on the Kings Signing Danault, Edler, and the Plan Moving Forward
Even With AA Deal Close to Final, Kings Could Add a Forward and Make it All Work
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Douglas Sun says
I thought they would go for a scoring winger, but as I think about it I see the value in getting Danault. Freeing Vilardi from the insistence that he’s a center may help him as it seems to have helped Kempe. Shoot the puck!
I’m a little surprised at the term, but he should be a useful player for the length of the contract, and it will probably be tradable once the salary cap starts going up again. It’s just that 6 years makes you a core player, not a bridge.
I’m a little concerned that it’s now Grundstrom’s turn to get caught in the numbers game. I still think he could develop into something like a poor man’s Tomas Sandstrom, but he needs a little more time and a chance to play. Lizotte is going to get squeezed, too.
Happy with the moves today. Blake is being patient and methodical. Can’t help but think line projections seem like an early 2000’s Andy Murray-ish line-up:
Deadmarsh (Iaffalo) -Allison (Kopitar) – Palffy (Arvidson)
Smolinski (Kempe) -Stumpel (Danault) – Murray (Brown)
Hope we can get that playoff luck this year!
Milton Barcos says
After drinking from the cup, the team has regressed due to Dean Lombardi handing out of contracts to contributing but marginal players in Brown Stoll, and Green. Finally Blake is able to get out of cap hell, but what does he do, spend it on another marginal player to the tune of a 5.5M AAV. It’s bad cap management to spend on a defensive forward that has only scored above above 10 goals for a few seasons. Now the he’s projected as the 2C. I would have rather spent the cap via a trade versus a bad cap signing. The fact that is that Kings need scoring and adding another bottom 6 player is a waste of the cap flexibility.
Douglas Sun says
Scoring 0.6 points/game and winning 54% of face-offs against the other team’s top guys does not make you a mundane bottom-6 forward in today’s NHL. Yes, the Kings overpaid a bit and I’m not entirely comfortable with the NTC. But that comes with the territory when you’re dealing with the top UFAs in any given year.
Besides, it sounds to me like this is not just about adding Danault’s raw numbers. It’s also about helping Kopitar by taking some of the responsibility for taking draws and defending the other team’s top forwards off of his shoulders.
Nick Petropoulos says
Obviously you did not watch the playoffs and do not understand what Danault is as a player.
Or worse : you did watch the playoffs and did not understand what you were seeing.
I like the new additions & the filling of holes Rob & Lue have pinpointed as their views for our LA Kings future. There are plenty of opportunities for all of our young snipers to take advantage now & prove them selves worthy to grab a steady position on this 2021-2022 roster. Experienced new veterans to provide how to prepare & get to the next level. Didn’t have to give up any of our young core in trades and leaving the door open to see which ones will take their opportunity and step into the lime life of the NHL. And when it comes time headed for the trading deadline next year to strengthen this club for the playoffs we have all the young assets to acquire more veteran help Rob & Luc have a boat load to do so. Can’t wait for next season because it’s going to be great getting back in the saddle again. GO KINGS GO! ♥️ LA KINGS all the way. Built for now & strong for the future. ♥️