Kings defenseman Drew Doughty in action against the Tampa Bay Lightning… (Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles…)
AEG, the Kings' parent company, fast-tracked the construction of an NFL stadium in Los Angeles but so far has been unable to get restricted free agent Drew Doughty under contract.
As expected, Doughty didn't attend the Kings' Hockey Fest on Sunday at Staples Center. General Manager Dean Lombardi said he would soon talk to his boss, Tim Leiweke, who will discuss with owner Philip Anschutz how far the Kings will go to secure the 21-year-old defenseman.
Players are due in El Segundo on Friday for pre-training camp physicals and will take to the ice Saturday.
"I still have hope he'll be here Friday. I don't know if I expect it but I have hope," Lombardi said after fielding questions from a crowd of about 3,000. "It's better than no hope."
Lombardi said he spoke to Doughty's agent, Don Meehan, three times last week and agreed they won't comment publicly. But when asked what the problem is, Lombardi responded quickly.
"You can figure out the problem. It's how much and length," he said. "That's the two issues. … There's a couple of variables."
He said they haven't discussed no-trade or no-move clauses. He also said he might speak to Doughty directly to convey his commitment to winning and willingness to pay Doughty fairly.
A report last week by Nick Kypreos of Canada's Sportsnet network said Doughty rejected a nine-year, $61.2-million offer. However, that was proposed early in negotiations and is longer than Doughty wants.
Team captain Dustin Brown said players returning to town "want to get him here as soon as possible." Brown added, "I have confidence that they'll figure it out. He's not going to not play for us."
Center Anze Kopitar, who underwent surgery in late March after breaking his right fibula and tearing a ligament, said he has been skating a month without pain but feels discomfort because of swelling. He will try stretching his skate boot to alleviate that.
"The doctor said it takes up to a year to get the swelling down and that's normal so I'm not concerned with that," he said.
Center Colin Fraser, whose surgically repaired right ankle is the focus of a grievance filed by the Kings against the Edmonton Oilers, was freed from his protective boot about 10 days ago and might skate this week. He's not allowed to run or jump and is unlikely to fully participate in camp from the start.
"It's coming," he said. "It doesn't feel 100% but it's getting close. … I'm hoping to skate this week but that doesn't mean I can just jump right into scrimmages. I'm going to need a few skates to learn how to play hockey again. It's been six months since I've even looked at my skates."
The Kings contend the Oilers misrepresented the extent of Fraser's injury before sending him to Los Angeles in the Ryan Smyth trade. Both teams have filed positions with the league. Jeff Solomon, the Kings' vice president of legal affairs, said the process is "in the home stretch. … We hope to have some finality in the next few weeks."