The Los Angeles Kings have a lot of their plate for this summer, despite having finally proven that they could get back to the postseason this spring, though they were quickly eliminated by the Vegas Golden Knights. General manager Rob Blake knows that a lot has to be done to be a true Cup conform and 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 informed SKA Saint Petersburg he will not be back next season, and is expected 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.
Back in April, Blake had barely commented the return of the former King, trying to be noncommittal to the defender.
"It’s so far away from the point where we have to address it," he had replied.
However now, the Kings GM's approach appears to be different. According to Aivis Kalnins, the prominent KHL insider, the "Kings would be open to signing Voynov to an NHL deal but they are unlikely to get involved with the process prior to that." It is well known that Voynov would have to meet with the League and commissioner Gary Bettman as part of a hearing where there could be additional discipline suspension applied upon his return.
Kalnins also noted that Blake recently told Russian media that it's too early talk about a possible contract until the legal issues have been taken care of. However it has been reported that Voynov's agent has been in touch with the NHL in the last few weeks.
That is quite the change for the Kings, who might be in need to bolster their back end after all... The New York Rangers were also reportedly interested in landing Voynov, but no move has been done on their part, as the team is still looking for a new head coach for next season.