EL SEGUNDO, Calif. – Kevin Westgarth believes he can be more than an enforcer, and the Los Angeles Kings think he is right.
The Kings signed Westgarth to a US$1.45-million, two-year deal on Monday, keeping the physical forward under contract through the 2013-14 season.
Westgarth won his first NHL job as the Kings’ enforcer last season, recording three points and 105 penalty minutes in 56 games. He also played in two post-season games against San Jose, and the experience left him hungry to evolve into an NHL regular.
“I’m ecstatic to extend my time here,” Westgarth said after a training camp workout. “It’s a really special group of people who are going to do some great things in the next couple of years.”
The 27-year-old Princeton product signed with the Kings as a free agent in 2007, working his way through the minor-league system before cracking the Los Angeles roster a year ago. He has developed a friendly rivalry with Anaheim enforcer George Parros, who’s also a former Princeton player.
Early in the summer, Westgarth married Meagan Cowher, a former Princeton basketball player and the daughter of former Pittsburgh Steelers coach Bill Cowher.
Westgarth said he spent the rest of the summer preparing for camp, reaching new goals in conditioning and strength while working on his “all-around game.”
“I feel better than I ever have before, by a long shot,” Westgarth said. “It’s a lot easier (going into camp) just being around the same group of guys again. You get to know the guys a lot better and just get a little more confident.”
Westgarth has been skating on the Kings’ prospective fourth line with Brad Richardson and Trevor Lewis during the first few days of camp.