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I really like Phillip Danault as a player. He is one of the best defensive centers in the NHL and he’s better offensively than given credit for; at least at 5v5 (he’s not going to give much on the man advantage).
In saying that, I don’t love the signing. Don’t get me wrong. Danault is a quality piece and should be worth the money – or at least close to it – for a few seasons. This just strikes me as the contract that should be handed out by a team ready to win. Or at least close.
Yes, LA has some good pieces. Yes, the Pacific Division is very soft. Yes, having Anze Kopitar and Danualt on the same roster should make it extremely difficult for opposing teams to score.
I just don’t think the Kings will be ready to make a lot of noise until Quinton Byfield, Alex Turcotte, and all their kids come through the ranks and start to really make an impact. And I think that’s a couple years away.
By that point, Kopitar will be 35, Drew Doughty will be 33, Danault will be 30, and so forth. I like Danault. I just don’t think he’s going to be worth this much down the road, and the Kings don’t strike me as a team ready to make the most of Danault while he’s still at his best.
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It was a little surprising to see the team bring in another center rather than a winger, given that the Kings do have many prospects up the middle. That said, we can probably assume the likes of Alex Turcotte and Gabriel Vilardi will now be transitioned to the wing instead, leaving one long-term opening up the middle in the top-six for Quinton Byfield.
I’m a huge fan of Danault’s game and I think he’s going to be an excellent addition for the Kings. He should be a great long-term fit as a middle-six center and is extremely well-rounded. Also given his age, even if we see a decline during the six-year term, it’s probably not coming until very late in the contract.
The Kings may have overpaid here but I don’t think it’s by a drastic margin. The best comparable may be Jean-Gabriel Pageau’s contract with the New York Islanders, given Pageau had similar production to Danault and also has a great defensive game. Pageau was 28 years old in the first year of his contract as well, which was for six years at a $5 million AAV.