One of the major items on the off-season to-do list for the Kings was accomplished Tuesday when they reached a contract agreement with young star defenseman Slava Voynov.
It is a six-year deal worth $25 million. He would have become a restricted free agent on July 5.
This, by all accounts, was a breakout season for the 23-year-old Russian, who had increased responsibility because of the injuries to defensemen Willie Mitchell and Matt Greene. Voynov had six goals and 25 points, playing in all 48 games of the lockout-shortened season.
He took another big step forward in the playoffs, scoring six goals — four of them game-winners — during the Kings’ run to the Western Conference finals. Two of his game-winning goals came in the first-round series against the St. Louis Blues.
The only other King with more than one game-winning goal in the playoffs was Justin Williams, who had two.
A market price was set for young defensemen in May when the Phoenix Coyotes signed Oliver Ekman-Larsson to a six-year contract extension worth $33 million. More recently, the Nashville Predators signed Roman Josi to a seven-year, $28-million deal.
Josi, like Voynov, is 23. Ekman-Larsson will turn 22 on July 17.
Meanwhile, there seems to be no shortage of interest in goalie Jonathan Bernier, a soon-to-be restricted free agent. He probably will be moved by the time the NHL entry draft takes place June 30.
The Philadelphia Inquirer reported that the Kings and Flyers, frequent trading partners, had spoken about Bernier. It is expected that the number of interested teams will narrow to three or four as talks intensify closer to the draft.
Bernier recently hired a new agent, signing with Pat Brisson of Creative Artists Agency. Brisson represents, among others, the Penguins’ Sidney Crosby and Kings center Anze Kopitar.
Kings General Manager Dean Lombardi has been especially busy since the team was eliminated from the playoffs June 8. Another important order of business is the future of defenseman Rob Scuderi, who is approaching unrestricted free agency. Scuderi and Lombardi had contract discussions late last week.