As per Michael Russo and Eric Duhastschk of The Athletic, the Los Angeles Kings are reportedly close to finalizing a contract extension for pending UFA defenseman Vladislav Gavrikov. The blueliner was added at this past season’s NHL Trade Deadline and while the Kings were ousted in the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, the organization liked what he brought to the team.
The two scribes write, “Assuming Gavrikov signs, it means that at least two regulars on the blue line, Sean Walker and Sean Durzi, could be trade bait. The pair start the offseason at Nos. 29 and 30 on the trade board.” Durzi, 24, would be of interest to other NHL teams. He anchored the Kings second power-play unit, can play both the left and the right side, and is on a good value contract that pays him $1.7 million next season. Walker, 28, can also play both sides, makes $2.65 million, and seems to be bouncing back from some injury concerns.
Both scribes point out that it will be intriguing to see what the Gavrikov number comes in at and what it means for the other free agents the Kings would like to sign. Specifically, if they pay too much for Gavrikov — who is rumored to be looking for a hefty raise — they would need to find room for UFA goaltender Joonas Korpisalo. How much interest the Kings have in signing him isn’t entirely clear, but if he were to leave in free agency, the club’s only other options are Pheonix Copley and Cal Petersen. That’s a questionable tandem for a team that wants to take another competitive step this season.
If the Kings really want to go fishing for a top-notch starter, (someone like Connor Hellebuyck) they would have to pay a heavy premium to unload Petersen’s contract.
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