It’s eight more seasons for No. 8 and a huge weight lifted off the Kings’ shoulders.
The Kings took care of the most pressing question of their offseason Friday when they announced they have agreed to terms with Drew Doughty on an eight-year contract extension.
The contract, worth about $11 million annually, will lock up the franchise cornerstone defenseman through the 2026-27 season and cross off the most important item on the Kings’ to-do list.
“Drew Doughty is one of the best defensemen in the world and we are obviously excited to have reached this point in the process in which he has committed to the Kings long-term,” general manager Rob Blake said in a release.
Doughty, 28, has one year remaining on his current contract that pays $7 million annually. He publicly sought a sizable increase and cited the $9-million salary of Nashville Predators’ P.K. Subban as a starting point.
Doughty early last season left open the possibility of leaving, particularly if the Kings didn’t get back to playoff success. But he continued to state that he wanted to remain with the only NHL team he has played for and the one he rooted for as a kid. He will be the only Kings player to sign two contracts of at least eight years.
“I’ve always wanted to be an L.A. King and I want to stay an L.A. King,” Doughty said in April, following the Kings’ first-round sweep by the Vegas Golden Knights.
Blake consistently said that he would do what it took to retain the Norris Trophy winner. The bump in pay could stretch the Kings financially in the future, but Doughty is arguably the game’s best defenseman.
He became a four-time Norris finalist this spring after he led the NHL in total ice time and ice time per game at nearly 27 minutes. Doughty set career highs in assists (50) and points (60) and is two games short of tying Anze Kopitar’s franchise record for consecutive games played (330).
“He’s the best at what he does,” goalie Jonathan Quick said. “I think the way he thinks the game is his biggest strength. His ability to make plays under pressure, it helps us get out of the zone, and every time he’s out there, he’s always helping his partner, helping me, helping the forwards.”
Blake and Doughty are expected to comment Sunday when it becomes official, on the first day of free agency. Doughty is in Canada. His longtime agent, Don Meehan, did not immediately respond to a text message.