LOS ANGELES — Rob Blake’s first big move as the new general manager of the Los Angeles Kings was to make signing of one of his key potential restricted free agents quick and easy instead of a long, drawn out process.
Indeed, after trading goaltender Ben Bishop, who would have been an unrestricted free agent on July 1, to the Dallas Stars in exchange for a fourth-round pick in the 2017 National Hockey League Draft, Blake signed left wing Tanner Pearson to a contract extension earlier today.
The four-year extension is valued at $15 million, with a $3.75 million per year salary cap hit.
Pearson indicated that negotiations went smoothly without much difficulty.
“[Talks] heated up about three weeks ago,” he said. “We were able to come to a good deal and we’re all really happy about it. There’s obviously was a bit of negotiating that had to be done, but other than it went pretty smoothly. I’m happy to be staying in L.A.”
“The main goal was to stay here, in Los Angeles,” he added. “I want to stay here long-term and we were able to come to a deal that was good for everyone and I’m happy to still be here.”
Pearson also said that he decided to focus on playing hockey during the season rather than dwell on his future.
“The contract was in the back of my mind, [but] first things first,” he said. “[I had] to help the team win and do my job on a nightly basis. When you focus on the game at hand, the contract stuff will handle itself at the end of the day, and it did that.”
Pearson took note of the changes in Kings hockey operations, not to mention the coaching staff.
“That was a pretty crazy time for everyone at the end of the year,” he noted, “It’s going to be good for [head coach] John [Stevens], a familiar face, to be there, because of the circumstances that happened. But it’ll be good to have somebody you know behind the bench who can instill the right things, and to have [Rob Blake]—he’s been around the game a long time. He’s going to do a good job there, too.”
With the spotlight shined so brightly on the Kings’ acute need to get pucks and bodies to the front of the net and the middle of the ice, Pearson was asked for this thoughts about this sticky point of contention for his team.
“When you talk about high-level areas, you’re talking about a box, from dot to do, to the net,” he said. “It’s getting to the right places and shooting pucks from there.”
“I know, last year, we took a look at where the majority of my shots were from and where the goals are,” he added. “It’s small things like that that a lot of the guys will go over and it’ll be brought to our attention when we get to camp, too.”
LEAD PHOTO: Los Angeles Kings left wing Tanner Pearson, shown here during a recent practice at the Toyota Sports Center in El Segundo, California. Photo: David Sheehan/CaliShooterOne Photography.
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