The Los Angeles Kings locked up Austin Wagner a couple of days ago, extending the forward for three years at an AAV of $1.13 million.
To start, there’s a lot to like about this deal. Wagner is just 23 years old and we’ve seen that he fits well on a fourth-line, based on his style of play. Considering his age, he could stick around for a while.
The price they got him for was also slightly impressive, especially on a three-year deal. Los Angeles certainly benefitted from the fact that Wagner's production was down from last season and if he had managed a pace of about 16 goals and 28 points per 82 games again this season like he did in 2018-19, there’s no doubt that his price tag would have been higher. The price is fair and if Wagner’s production can bounce back as well, this could look like a steal, plus he'll still be a restricted free agent by the time the contract expires.
My one concern, however, is something that’s at least somewhat out of Wagner’s control, and that’s how many forward prospects the Kings have on the way. By committing money to Wagner, a bottom-six forward, it means there’s one less spot in the lineup for a prospect coming up. He could always be scratched but the fact that he got a three-year deal definitely points to the fact that it probably wouldn’t be a route the Kings want to go.
Don’t get me wrong, I think this is a really good contract for the Kings. I just question committing money and term for a player right now when we haven’t seen many other quality prospects yet, who could potentially force Wagner out of the lineup in the future. But again, that concern certainly isn’t large enough to avoid signing that deal, based on how low of an AAV is attached to the contract.
This contract is a win for the Kings.
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Here’s today’s poll question (results and discussion will be posted in a future article):