The Los Angeles Kings have been giving out some contract extensions over the past few weeks, most notably to restricted free agents Austin Wagner and Sean Walker. However, there is still one free agent who I believe the Kings should re-sign, and that’s Ben Hutton.
In a poll I did a while back, 81 per cent of readers voted that they wanted to see Hutton re-sign with the Kings next season. I’ve gone over this a little bit in the past but I wanted to go a bit more in-depth on the possibility of re-signing Hutton.
While the Kings are fairly solid on the right side of their defense group with Drew Doughty, Matt Roy and Sean Walker, there’s some uncertainty on the left side. We can assume Mikey Anderson will start the season in the NHL, along with either Tobias Bjornfot or Kale Clague. Either way, you don’t want young prospects taking on too much responsibility right away. There’s no need to rush them into a role they’re not ready for and considering Hutton faced tougher competition this year than any Kings defenseman other than Drew Doughty (according to Hockey Abstract), he’d certainly be able to shelter the young defensemen.
Hutton is able to add offense but was also strong enough defensively and had great underlying numbers. He’s still young enough that there’s no fear of him declining, however, as I’ve said before, he’s probably not going to command more than a two-year deal. I also wouldn’t expect the price to be much more than about $2.5 million per year and considering Los Angeles has an abundance of cap space at the moment, that wouldn’t be an issue on a short-term deal.
Another key factor is that if you look around the free agent market this year, there aren’t a ton of options for a replacement. I mean, the Kings could always go after a bigger name with their cap space but giving out term with solid prospects on the way doesn’t make a ton of sense. There aren’t many defenders who could play on the top pairing but would also take a short-term deal at a low cost. The one player I see that could work would be Andy Greene (as I’ve mentioned before), but at that point, why not keep Hutton? His value would likely only go up playing top-pairing minutes, while Greene is likely going in the other direction, based on his age.
Hutton had a really solid year in Los Angeles and there would be no reason for the Kings to get cold feet about the possibility of an extension. While he may or may not be with the organization long-term, all signs point to Hutton being a great candidate for a short-term extension.
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Here's today's poll question (results and discussion will be posted in a future article):
What should Ben Hutton's AAV be if he signed a two-year extension?