The club’s latest move came Friday, as it struck a two-year contract extension with pending restricted free agent Kurtis MacDermid. The 26-year-old defenseman will earn $875,000 of annual average value in the deal, which will keep him in Los Angeles through the 2021-22 season.
During three seasons with the Kings, MacDermid has 13 points in 90 games and a minus-14 rating. His 45 games this season were a career-high, as was his 13:43 of average ice time. After dressing in only 29 of the first 52 games of the campaign, MacDermid was in the lineup for all but three games in February and March, including appearances in each game of the Kings’ seven-game win streak before the season was suspended last month.
MacDermid was one of 11 players in the Kings organization set to become a restricted free agent this summer, in an off-season that will see the team’s rebuild enter a new stage. After shipping away five veterans before February’s trade deadline, including defensemen Derek Forbort and Alec Martinez, the Kings’ roster for next year is likely to trend younger and include few set roles from the start of the season.
MacDermid, who will be on a one-way contract, could have the chance to increase his role on the blue line.
The 6-foot-5, 235-pound former undrafted free agent is one of the biggest, most physical players on the Kings’ roster. He got in five fights this season, squaring off with fellow heavyweights such as Milan Lucic and Nicolas Deslauriers twice.
“That’s something I need to do,” MacDermid said on Feb. 12, after one of his fights against Lucic helped spark the Kings to a win over the Calgary Flames. “Sometimes, the game needs some of that. That’s all I’m looking to do, get a little boost for the boys, get things rolling.”
Over the second half of the season, however, other areas of MacDermid’s game began to materialize as well. In that same win over the Flames, he scored a goal and added an assist to earn a “Gordie Howe” hat trick. His ice time went up in the 11 games that followed, with coach Todd McLellan playing him almost 15 minutes per game and putting him on the ice for more penalty kill and late-game situations down the stretch.
Bringing back MacDermid made sense for the Kings, beefing up their defensive pairings for next season and adding potential flexibility for the league’s expansion draft in 2021. But it offers MacDermid an opportunity as well.
McLellan had described the end of this season as a de facto evaluation period for players such as MacDermid, younger faces with some experience trying to stake a spot in the Kings’ long-term future. MacDermid will now have a couple of extra seasons to cement his impression.