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RFA watch: Ball back in Drew Doughty’s court after Kings refine contract offer

Aug 30, 2011, 10:45 PM EDT

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Drew Doughty Getty Images

Last week we took a look around at what was going on with some of the biggest names left to be signed as restricted free agents and perhaps the biggest one out there is Kings defenseman Drew Doughty. Doughty and Kings GM Dean Lombardi have been trying to work out a deal with their star defenseman all summer long but have found the going tough.

After all, the Kings would likely want to get Doughty signed up to a long-term deal to make sure they don’t have to go through this song and dance again anytime soon as well as to cut into part of Doughty’s years as an unrestricted free agent (which begins at age of 27). After rumors of offers ranging in years from three to five to seven to even nine years for a contract for Doughty to stay a King, the Kings and Lombardi have opened things up a bit more for Doughty to make a decision.

Helene Elliott of the Los Angeles Times caught up with Lombardi today finding out that there are offers of varying lengths for Doughty and his agent to consider.

Lombardi said he spoke Monday with Doughty’s agent, Don Meehan, and made an offer that “codifies what we’ve been talking about for a while.” Lombardi said the offer includes “different lengths for him to consider,” likely six to eight years.

“Everything’s been amicable. We’re waiting to hear back from them. They said they’d get back to us in a day or two,” Lombardi said. “So in terms of distance, I’ll probably have a better handle on that when we hear back.”

The number of years in those offers for Doughty make a world of sense considering that superstar forward Anze Kopitar is due to become an unrestricted free agent in five years and Doughty’s fellow young defensive stud Jack Johnson is free in seven years. If the Kings were going to have Doughty and either Kopitar or Johnson become unrestricted free agents in the same year, they’d be dealing with a world of pain on their wallets and might be faced with making even more difficult decisions because of it.

Getting a deal done with Doughty hasn’t exactly been a worry for Los Angeles and while training camp is just a couple weeks away, that’s still a lot of time to get a deal done. As it is, Los Angeles wants to do right by themselves and to not get on Doughty’s bad side in negotiations. Avoiding a potential hold out or problems in future negotiations would go a long way towards the Kings hanging on to their 2010 Norris Trophy finalist for a long time. Giving Doughty a pair of options they like should help speed up the process to getting Doughty locked up for a long time and save tough negotiations for another time well down the road.

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