Being a scoring forward on the Los Angeles Kings is filled with uncertainty.
If you can’t score consistently, you could find yourself non-tendered (Alexander Frolov), waived (Marco Sturm) or relegated to fourth-line duty (Alexei Ponikarovsky). Amidst this veteran inconsistency and line shuffling has been Justin Williams, who just scored his 20th goal of the season and projects to play in all 82 games. Consistent, right?
Well, Dean Lombardi and company must feel Williams can keep up his pace and stay healthy, as he signed a four-year contract which is believed to be worth 14.6 million — giving him a very affordable #3.65 million dollar cap hit. While Williams does not play with superstar Anze Kopitar, he provides another strong body on the veteran second line, blending nicely with Jarret Stoll and Ryan Smyth.
However, Williams never had a problem with scoring.
His true problem has been staying healthy as he only played in all 82 games twice in his nine-year career with the last time coming back in 2006-2007. In both of those seasons he topped 30 goals so his projection of 26 in 82 this year might be somewhat low.
By making this move, the Kings make a weak UFA market even weaker. Williams by far was the top free agent priority of this offseason with Ponikarovsky, Peter Harrold and Michal Handzus representing the remaining significant decisions.
In addition, the team eliminates most uncertainty going into the deadline, knowing exactly how much space they have to play with for next season. By locking up Williams they can now acquire a player with more than one year on their deal.
This signing makes sense, now the Kings need to cross their fingers this often-injured winger can stay healthy. If history is any indication, he has a 33 percent chance of doing so.
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