Dustin Brown apparently can thank Thomas Vanek and Dustin Penner for his six-year contract extension. Or, more accurately, the Edmonton Oilers.
With an eye on Brown's becoming a restricted free agent at the end of the season, the Kings on Friday secured the power forward, reaching a deal worth $19.05 million.
By signing Brown, who turns 23 next month and will make $3.175 million a season, the Kings avoided what happened to Anaheim in July. That's when the Oilers pitched a five-year, $21.25-million offer sheet to Penner, which the Ducks ultimately refused to match.
Kings President and General Manager Dean Lombardi, speaking at the team's practice facility in El Segundo, was asked whether this was a reaction to the Penner case, which sparked controversy and harsh words between Ducks and Oilers management.
"It is and it isn't. I mean, it is a little predictable. The Vanek thing, and this is kind of what you're talking about," Lombardi said, speaking of the seven-year, $50-million offer sheet the Oilers presented to Vanek, which the Buffalo Sabres quickly matched.
"That's the environment. That's why you did see some people move quickly on their young players to make sure they're not set up for a Vanek."
Negotiations had been going on for about two to three months, and Brown was relieved it was over. He and his wife, Nicole, are expecting a baby, a boy, in February.
"Obviously, I'm pretty excited about it. The important thing is the six years provides me security, and I know I'm going to be a King for a while," he said. "That's really what I wanted. There's security, and there's the risk of the market going up."
Brown, obviously, is an integral part of the Kings' present and future, playing on the No. 1 line with Anze Kopitar and Michael Cammalleri. He has four goals and eight points in 11 games and last season scored 17 goals and 46 points.
It's no secret Brown came into his own and his game blossomed last season once Sean Avery was traded to the Rangers in February. Avery, an agitator in the dressing room, was known for riding some younger players.
"He's going to be a big part of the Kings, part of our core," Coach Marc Crawford said. "You look at the type of core player he is -- he plays sizable minutes, he plays on the power play, he kills penalties and plays a prominent role on our top line.
"He also plays a power game, and I understand why Dean felt so strong about getting him tied up because he does so many good things for us. He won't change his game because he has a long-term contract. He only knows one way to play, and that's pretty straightforward and robust."
Lombardi spoke about the way he and his colleagues now have to operate in the marketplace and pointed to Columbus Blue Jackets left winger Rick Nash, 23, and Oilers right winger Ales Hemsky, 24. Nash was locked up in 2005 with a five-year, $27-million contract, and Hemsky in 2006 signed a six-year deal for $24.6 million.
"The climate of this system with young players now you've seen with Nash and Hemsky," he said. "In the past, you were able to let things play out a little longer, free agency at 31. This is just a function of the way the system is -- it started two years ago.
"You've got a good young player and you try to lock him up at a fair price that fits with your game plan, cap-wise, now and into the future."
vs. Edmonton, 7, FSN West
Radio -- 1150.
Site -- Staples Center.
Records -- Kings 5-6, Oilers 4-6.
Record vs. Oilers (2006-07) -- 2-1-1
Update -- No surprise. Kings goalie Jason LaBarbera is scheduled for his fourth consecutive start, and he doesn't mind the heavy lifting, pointing out he played in 62 games in Manchester last season, including 20 in a row. The Oilers, meanwhile, are coming off a 5-4 shootout victory Thursday night against the Minnesota Wild. The victory ended a two-game skid. Leading the way for the Oilers was Ales Hemsky, who had two goals in regulation as well as the shootout winner.