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After the Kings celebrate, signing Jonathan Quick is top priority

The Conn Smythe winner could become a free agent after next season, but the Kings figure to offer him a big extension and he sounds willing to stay.

June 12, 2012|By Lisa Dillman

On the day after the Kings' improbable Stanley Cup victory, President and General Manager Dean Lombardi was juggling the past, the present and the future.

That's what you have to do in the NHL these days. The time to celebrate championships is incredibly short. The NHL entry draft is just over a week away in Pittsburgh, and from there Lombardi will be doing his utmost to get goaltender Jonathan Quick signed to a lengthy contract extension.

Quick won the Conn Smythe Trophy as the playoffs' most valuable player and he will be in Las Vegas next week as a finalist for the Vezina Trophy, awarded annually to the NHL's best goaltender.

After winning the Stanley Cup on Monday night, Quick dismissed talk about the Conn Smythe, but said how happy he was to a part of the Kings. That, hopefully for the Kings, will translate into a willingness to sign with the organization that gave him his start five years ago.

"I think the attention the team's going to get is great," said Quick, 26. who became the third American-born player to win the Conn Smythe. "That's something we have been looking for in this market for so long, is to get that attention toward hockey.

"It's just an honor to be on this team. I'm glad to be a part of it."

With a championship now on his resume, Quick has moved to the forefront of NHL goaltenders, and as such probably will ask to be paid accordingly. Quick has one year left on a contract that will pay him $1.8 million for the 2012-13 season, after which he could become an unrestricted free agent. The Kings logically will move heaven and Earth to prevent that from happening.

Under collective bargaining rules, negotiations for a contract extension can open after July 1. It isn't beyond the realm of possibility that Quick's camp will ask for a contract comparable to the bar set by the seven-year, $49-million deal that goalie Pekka Rinne signed with the Nashville Predators last summer.

The NHL's collective bargaining agreement is set to expire Sept. 15, and there has been speculation that the salary cap could eventually shrink if the parameters of the deal change. For now, the cap has been set at a working number of $70.3 million.

Any extension for Quick wouldn't kick in until the 2013-14 season, which gives Lombardi time to create necessary cap space to get the deal done.

The Kings are in a unique position heading into the 2012 draft. In the past, they have stockpiled picks. Between 2006 and 2009, they drafted 38 players. Most recently, Lombardi has used picks to acquire players — and he did it just before the trade deadline in February, sending a No. 1 to the Columbus Blue Jackets along with defenseman Jack Johnson for Jeff Carter.

The Blue Jackets have an option on that pick. They can use it either this year or next. Considering the Kings are slotted 30th in the first round, after winning the Stanley Cup, there is a chance that Columbus could defer the pick until next year, on the grounds that it cannot get any worse.

On the other hand, the Blue Jackets also have the first pick in the second round, 31st overall, and could package the two choices together in order to move up in the first round.

The NHL draft runs over two days (June 22-23), which makes the 31st pick highly prized because one highly rated prospect or another often slips through the cracks on the first night. Columbus does not have to inform the Kings of its intention to use the selection or not use it until two picks beforehand.

Three other regulars on the Stanley Cup winner — centers Jarret Stoll and Colin Fraser, plus winger Dustin Penner — are all unrestricted free agents this summer. Among the three, the Kings will try hardest to re-sign Stoll, who played a pivotal role for them in the playoffs, mostly in a defensive role.

lisa.dillman@latimes.com

twitter.com/reallisa

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