Drew Doughty won’t be at the NHL Awards show to possibly accept another Norris Trophy, given to the league’s best defenseman, but he remains a big topic.
According to a team official, the Kings veteran, who won the award in 2016, is unable to attend Wednesday’s ceremony.
Still to be determined is whether Doughty and the Kings can work out a contract extension. Doughty has one season remaining on his eight-year, $56-million contract and the sides officially can begin negotiations July 1.
General manager Rob Blake said Tuesday that he is concentrating on this week’s draft but repeated that Doughty is the first step of the offseason.
“We’re under the understanding we’re going to do what it takes to get Drew signed,” Blake said. “That’s our understanding here.”
Doughty, 28, hasn’t been shy about wanting to be among the top-paid defensemen in the NHL and the Kings being able to stay competitive. That means an increase from his current $7-million annual salary to around $10 million or more.
Teammate Anze Kopitar, nominated for the Hart (most valuable player) and Selke (forward who demonstrates most skill on defense) trophies, smiled when asked whether he has concerns about Doughty being extended.
“No,” Kopitar said. “It’s my gut feeling.”
Kopitar said he’s done with his recruiting pitch to Doughty.
“I don’t know how much more I can do, really,” Kopitar said. “I know he likes L.A. As proud of a Canadian that he is, I truly believe he enjoys L.A., too.”
Blake declined to comment about Slava Voynov, who is expected to apply for reinstatement to the NHL after he pleaded no contest to a misdemeanor charge of corporal injury to a spouse in 2015. Voynov has asked the Los Angeles County Superior Court to dismiss the conviction, which could open the door to his return.
Voynov is not on the Kings’ reserve list but the team holds his rights and could trade him for assets. Blake wouldn’t say whether the Kings have interest in bringing him back.
“That’s, I think, a little premature,” Blake said. “I don’t think we’re in a position to comment any further. A lot of this has to take place between him, his agent and the National Hockey League.”
In addition to possible awards for Doughty and Kopitar, Jonathan Quick will accept the Jennings Trophy for fewest goals given up.