It would be safe to say that the re-signing of Justin Williams is far from imminent.
The veteran Los Angeles Kings winger becomes an unrestricted free agent this summer, and he told Hockey Central at Noon Friday that little progress has been made toward inking a new deal.
“The problem with the system we have is that teams don’t know what the salary cap is going to be yet, and they won’t know for a little bit. They don’t know what they can spend, what they can do,” Mr. Game 7 explained.
The three-time Stanley Cup champ’s current contract carries a salary cap hit of $3.65 million and expires on July 1.
The Kings have just $4.9 million in estimated cap space, according to capfriendly.com, and GM Dean Lombardi must make decisions on a number of pending free agents, including Jarret Stoll (UFA), Andrej Sekera (UFA), Tyler Toffoli (RFA) and Martin Jones (RFA).
“At this point, I love L.A. If I re-sign here, great. I’ll be part of a great team moving forward,” said Williams, 33.
“But if not, I’m going to try to restart my career somewhere else, turn the page and try to win as many hockey games as I can. I’m at a point in my career where it’s not all about money, it’s about winning for me.”
Williams scored 18 goals and added 23 assists this season, playing top-six minutes and keeping pace with his regular-season production in 2013-14. He’ll have no trouble finding a job elsewhere.
According to Kings insider John Hoven, Williams is looking for a three- or four-year deal in the $4 to $5-million range, a price that simply doesn’t fit under L.A.’s current cap restraints. Stoll, too, could price himself out of a return to the Kings.
“If they’re here, my job as a head coach is to push them, and if they’re somewhere else, I’d cheer for them. Same thing when we won. It’s got nothing to do with not making the playoffs how I feel about those guys,” Kings coach Darryl Sutter told Hoven after L.A. failed to make the post-season.
“It’s part of a big family that won two championships. Unfortunately sometimes a family has to go somewhere else to continue their careers. If there was a way for all our players to be back, I’d want them all to be back.”