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Kings' magnificent roll continues with Jonathan Quick news

HELENE ELLIOTT

Coming off their first Stanley Cup championship, the Kings lock up their star goaltender to a long-term deal. And the price ($58 million for 10 years) is reasonable enough to allow them to make other moves.

June 28, 2012|Helene Elliott
  • Jonathan Quick makes a save against the Canucks in Game 4 of the Stanley Cup playoffs.
Jonathan Quick makes a save against the Canucks in Game 4 of the Stanley Cup… (Wally Skalij / Los Angeles…)

It's almost too much to comprehend.

The Kings won the Stanley Cup for the first time in franchise history and now they have reached an agreement on a 10-year contract extension with the goaltender whose excellence carried them to the top, playoff MVP Jonathan Quick.

And not only did they secure him for a decade, starting with the 2013-14 season, they did it at a reasonable price that should give them room to upgrade their scoring on the left side through a free-agency splash or trade.

It's almost too many good things to believe for a team that stumbled through the NHL wilderness for 4 1/2 decades, unable to find and develop an elite goaltender until Quick emerged as a franchise player whose calm competence gave his teammates the confidence to go where no Kings team had gone before.

The deal, which can't be signed until July 1 because of restrictions in the current collective bargaining agreement, is worth $58 million over 10 years, with the biggest portion due in the first seven years.

The average annual value of $5.8 million is manageable enough to fit under whatever salary cap the next labor deal will bring, even if owners get the big salary decreases they're expected to pursue.

Ten years is a long time to commit to a player, but the Kings aren't duplicating the Vancouver Canucks' mistake of locking up Roberto Luongo for 12 years and $64 million in 2009, when Luongo was past 30. Quick is 26 and has won the Cup, a feat missing from Luongo's resume. The Canucks paid for what they hoped Luongo might do. The Kings are paying for what Quick has already achieved and could easily accomplish again. Big difference.

There's much to like about this extension, starting with General Manager Dean Lombardi getting it done swiftly and doing all he can to keep the core of his championship team intact.

Some pieces will change as players age or fall victim to injury, but the heart — Quick, Drew Doughty, Dustin Brown, Justin Williams, Anze Kopitar and Mike Richards — is under contract long term. Lombardi was smart to make a direct, decisive approach to Quick and avoid long negotiations that might have created distractions or bad feelings. He couldn't risk losing Quick in net or in the locker room, where the goalie is an integral piece of a group that has the great ability to self-police in times of slumps and equally impressive ability to motivate one another every day.

Quick made a strong statement by agreeing to the extension instead of waiting and using impending free agency as leverage to squeeze the Kings for more money. He wants to be here and probably took less than market value to do it.

To the elite free agents who have annually snubbed the Kings, that could send a powerful signal that L.A. is not only a worthwhile tourist stop, it's a desirable hockey destination and a place where you can win.

That's how teams become annual contenders and build winning traditions. The Kings are getting there. Again, it's almost too much to comprehend, but it's enjoyable to contemplate.

helene.elliott@latimes.com

twitter.com/helenenothelen

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