With the 2017 NHL free agency opening July 1, the Los Angeles Kings can move on the next phase of revamping their roster and continuing their offseason transformation. A lack of scoring plagued the Kings during the 2016-17 season with ownership moving quickly to promote Rob Blake to general manager and John Stevens to head coach.
Both Blake and Stevens expressed the importance to become more aggressive with the puck and capitalize on scoring chances. As such, it should come as no surprise the Kings aim to target playmakers. Their initial discussions naturally led to Joe Thornton with whom the team has contacted, according to Jon Rosen of LA Kings Insider:
Since NHL teams were allowed to communicate with pending unrestricted free agents on Sunday, the Los Angeles Kings have been in contact with San Jose Sharks center Joe Thornton, LA Kings Insider has learned from multiple sources.
Despite contact, cap space may be in issue in luring the center away from San Jose. The Kings are projected to have nearly $10 million in cap space following contract extensions for Tanner Pearson, Tyler Toffoli, and Andy Anderoff. Only four defensemen are currently signed for the 2017-18 season which would impact contract discussions.
In all likelihood, fielding interest from Los Angeles could also be seen as a negotiation tactic for Thornton who will likely be signing his last NHL contract. The 19-year veteran is currently second among active players in points.
His past season was his worst since his second year in the league after recording just 50 points in 79 games played. Furthermore, Thornton will be coming off torn ACL and MCL injuries but should be ready to play come October.