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Kings lock up blueliner McNabb to two-year, $3.4-million deal

The Los Angeles Kings have their blueline filled out for the 2016-17 campaign with the signing of Brayden McNabb to a two-year deal worth a reported $3.4-million. McNabb, 25, posted two goals and 14 points while playing on the Kings’ second and third pairings in 2015-16.
The Hockey News

The Hockey News

Brayden McNabb has been a steady, reliable, second- or third-pairing defender for the Los Angeles Kings over the past two seasons, and he’s been rewarded for his steady development with a new two-year deal.

The Kings announced Friday they have signed McNabb, who was set to become a restricted free agent, to a two-year contract. While the Los Angeles didn’t release any details of the deal, the Los Angeles Times’ Lisa Dillman reported the contract will see McNabb, 25, earn $1.6 million in 2016-17 and get a raise to $1.8 million in 2017-18, which means he’ll carry an annual cap hit of $1.7 million.

McNabb’s offensive stats won’t exactly blow anyone away — he scored two goals and 14 points in 2015-16 — but that he’s able to effectively slot into both the second and third pairings makes him a valuable asset on the Kings blueline. This past season, he averaged nearly 18:48 in ice time per game. He wasn’t a major factor on either the power play or penalty kill, especially after the Kings’ acquisition of Rob Scuderi, but McNabb does take a regular shift when Los Angeles is down a man.

In a Kings system that has been one of the best at driving possession, McNabb has been one of the better Los Angeles rearguards at possessing the puck. Per Puckalytics, McNabb has a 57.7 percent shot attempts for percentage over his 152 games as a King, meaning when he’s on the ice, Los Angeles is getting the bulk of the shots on goal.

With McNabb under contract, it seems less likely the Kings will find a spot for one of their younger blueliners such as Kevin Gravel or Derek Forbort to make the full-time jump to the NHL next season. Forbort played 14 games this past season and Gravel saw action in five, but Los Angeles now has six full-time NHL blueliners locked up for the upcoming campaign with both Luke Schenn and Jamie McBain slated for unrestricted free agency.

McNabb’s contract leaves the Kings with only $3.72 million to work with in cap space, according to CapFriendly. If the salary cap stays flat — and deputy commissioner Bill Daly has cautioned the cap could stay “relatively flat,” according to Sportsnet’s Chris Johnston — that likely means barring any creative cap work the Kings will be saying goodbye free agent forwards Kris Versteeg and Milan Lucic this summer.

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