Luc Robitaille, the highest-scoring left wing in NHL history and one of the most popular players in the Kings’ 37-year existence, will be with the Kings for at least one more season.
Robitaille, who bounced back from a career-low effort in 2002-03 to lead the Kings in scoring last season, has agreed in principle to a one-year contract, said his agent, Pat Brisson.
Robitaille, 38, would have become an unrestricted free agent Thursday. Robitaille’s deal, worth $1.5 million, will be announced by the Kings today or Wednesday.
“Luc will remain a King,” Brisson said. “He’s not going anywhere.”
Robitaille scored 22 goals last season, including four game-winners, to help an injury-depleted team stay in the playoff hunt until the final two weeks of the regular season.
Robitaille led the Kings with 51 points and 12 power-play goals. On March 22, Robitaille’s assist in the third period against the Edmonton Oilers gave him 1,370 career points, an NHL record for a left wing.
“This is good news for us,” King General Manager Dave Taylor said. “Luc had a great year for us last year and he belongs in L.A. We hope he eventually retires as a King.”
Robitaille made $1.15 million last season with the Kings after a subpar effort with the Detroit Red Wings. Robitaille scored a career-low 11 goals in 2002-03 and tumbled to the Red Wings’ fourth line.
But he rebounded last season and picked up some of the scoring slack as forwards Jason Allison, Adam Deadmarsh and Ziggy Palffy missed a combined 211 games because of injures.
“Luc’s always had the ability to score goals and I think last year with all the injuries, he got more ice time than [Coach] Andy [Murray] originally planned,” Taylor said. “He really came through for us and he played hard. We expect him to have another good year.”
Robitaille’s return to the ice will probably be delayed by a looming owners’ lockout, but, as Taylor said, “he’s prepared to wait a year and see how it goes.”
Robitaille, drafted by the Kings in 1984, has spent 13 of his 18 NHL seasons with the Kings. He has 653 goals, also an NHL record for left wings.
“Luc’s been an L.A. King at heart on and off the ice ever since he got drafted here,” Brisson said.
With Robitaille still in the fold, the Kings have other business to tend to before Thursday’s signing deadline.
They remain far apart on negotiations with Palffy, who on Sunday rejected the Kings’ offer of a three-year, $19.5-million contract. Palffy, who made $7 million last season, becomes an unrestricted free agent Thursday if he does not sign with the Kings.
Other potential unrestricted free agents include left wing Ian Laperriere and defenseman Jaroslav Modry.