It is no breaking news anymore, the Los Angeles Kings have to turn things around this summer and find a way to improve their aging roster and become a true Contender - not one that gets eliminated in four contests by the new franchise team during the playoffs... General manager Rob Blake knows he has a lot on the table. The main foremost priority will be centred around star defenseman Drew Doughty. The 28-year-old blue liner is a year away from unrestricted free agent eligibility, and while the Kings can open contract extension talks on July 1, there is a belief that they could instead choose to change the core of their team and move Doughty.
That's already a huge case to handle for Blake, but there seems to be another one that he will need to tackle this summer. Defenseman Slava Voynov has reportedly informed SKA Saint Petersburg he will not be back next season, and could try to return to the NHL despite leaving under a lot of heat and controversy, after he was convicted of domestic abuse back in 2014 when he was a member of the Los Angeles Kings. The Russian defenseman remains indefinitely suspended from the NHL over a 2014 incident that got him sentenced to 90 days in jail on a misdemeanour charge of corporal injury to his spouse Marta Varlamova.
Still, despite his domestic abuse conviction, he managed to clinch a spot on the Russian Olympic team, who ended up winning the gold medal. Back in January when the early chatter came to our ears that Voynov wanted back in the NHL, TSN insider Darren Dreger had explained on Insider Trading the many obstacles in his way.
"It's definitely a lengthy process. It first begins with the application for reinstatement. That's not expected to happen until the conclusion of his KHL season, so late April, perhaps early May. That would coincide with the expiration, the final year of his contract as well. It really gets complicated after that. There's not a lot the Los Angeles Kings, who retain his rights, can do in this process. He would have to meet with NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman as part of a hearing and it's also expected that there could be additional discipline suspension applied upon his return. And what about the immigration issues? So there's a lot he has to go through to get back into the league."
When asked about the possibility of getting Voynov back with the team, Blake was non-committal on Voynov, according to The Fourth Period's Dennis Bernstein.
"It’s so far away from the point where we have to address it.”
The Kings general manager did however state teams have called Los Angeles to ask what is happening with the controversial player.
There is no chatter on which teams might be interested in signing Voynov as of now. As Dreger mentioned prior to the Winter Games, Voynov will need to sit down with NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman and see if the suspension can be lifted or he would need to serve more time on the side line before returning to the ice as a member of an NHL team. However, according to Blake, some teams do have an interest...