The L.A. Kings went into the offseason with an extension for defenseman Drew Doughty as their top priority.
As of Sunday afternoon, mission accomplished.
The 2016 Norris Trophy-winning blueliner inked an eight-year deal with the Los Angeles Kings worth $88 milion ($11M AAV) that will kick in after the 2018-19 season and go through the 2027 season.
"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," said L.A. general manager Rob Blake said via a team-released statement. "This is great news for our organization and our fans and we will comment further once the contract has been signed and formally announced."
Doughty, 28, is coming off a season in which he put up a career-high 60 points with a personal-best 50 assists and continuing his regular season games played streak to 328. He was the No. 2 pick in the 2008 draft, and ranks second in franchise history among defensemen to Blake in goals, assists and points. The cornerstone d-man has a pair of Stanley Cup wins on his resume (2012 and 2014) in addition to two silver medals (2010 and 2014).
The Kings now have their top forward, defenseman and goalie all locked up through at least the 2022-23 season, with netminder Jonathan Quick being the first one up. Center Anze Kopitar, the 2018 Selke Award winner and a finalist for the Hart Trophy, is under contract through 2023-24. Along with Doughty, they are the only players in team history to sign deals of eight years or longer.
L.A. also got a jump on free agency, signing forward Ilya Kovalchuk to a three-year deal during the NHL draft weekend. The sniper spent the last five seasons in the KHL after last playing in the NHL with the New Jersey Devils in 2012-13. His latest NHL contract will carry an AAV of $6.25 million and had a no-movement clause.
"The most important thing is that the team is really good with a great core of guys who have already won," Kovalchuk said. "They know how to win and that is my goal, to win the Cup. I want to help the team be better and try to accomplish that goal."
With Doughty off market, the once defense-rich free agent class of 2019 continues to lose star power. Arizona Coyotes defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson agreed to an eight-year extension made official on Sunday worth more than $8 million per season while Tampa Bay Lightning blueliner Ryan McDonagh signed a seven-year deal worth an AAV of $6.75 million per season as well on Sunday the biggest name remaining is Erik Karlsson, the Ottawa Senators d-man who is likely due a contract with maximum term and money, though it remains to be seen if he'll stick in Ottawa. With the franchise mired in a rebuild and facing several big obstacles (both on- and off-ice), Karlsson's status continues to be that of the offseason rumor mill.
Doughty, meanwhile, gets to stay in L.A., which he had always wanted, though he had made it clear he wasn't opposed to figuring out his market value well ahead of time in a November interview with The Athletic.
"I always wanted to be an L.A. King and I want to stay an L.A. King,” he told NHL.com in April.
At his $11 million cap hit, Doughty will have the second-highest AAV in the NHL starting in 2019-20, behind Oilers center Connor McDavid's $12.5 million and tied with newly-minted Maple Leafs center John Tavares, but ahead of Montreal goalie Carey Price and Blackhawks forward Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane, all at $10.5M. Kopitar and Sabres forward Jack Eichel are next highest at a $10M hit per season.