The Los Angeles Kings and restricted free-agent defenseman Drew Doughty have yet to agree on a new contract, and with less than a month until NHL training camps begin, should the Kings think about trading his negotiating rights?
There's no question that Kings fans, and probably the team itself, are feeling a bit anxious as the new NHL season quickly approaches.
The Kings offered Doughty a nine-year contract worth about $6.5 million per season back in June, but it was not accepted.
Doughty finished his entry level contract last season, and scored 11 goals with 29 assists for 40 points.
It was a disappointing season considering he finished second in the Norris Trophy voting in 2010 and scored 59 points that year.
If Doughty and the Kings can't agree on a new contract before training camp, the team could trade his rights to another team.
However, it would have to be a team Doughty would consider signing with, and one that has enough salary cap room to sign him to a long-term contract.
Kings general manager Dean Lombardi has been trying his best to make Doughty a King for a long time, but it seems Doughty and his representatives aren't giving the Kings their full attention.
Lombardi said the following in a Sporting News article earlier this month:
"We talked about a number of scenarios, and I guess now it’s their move. They never really responded.”
The Los Angeles Times had a report that the Kings and Doughty hadn't even been talking much or even at all about a new contract during August, which further proves the negotiations are going painfully slow.
Doughty said in an August 17 TSN article that there is little rush to get something done.
"I guess there's really no rush," Doughty said. "Both sides, we're discussing things, and I'm sure that something is going to get done soon. I don't have a timeframe or anything like that. But I still want to be a King, and I can't wait to get something done just so it's over with."
If he can't wait to get something done, and he wants to be a King, then why is Doughty taking forever to get a deal done?
What kind of loyalty is he really giving his team and its fans?
Very little. In fact, with the disappointing season he had last year, there is no reason he should be the highest paid defenseman in the NHL, or even top three.
You could even argue that Doughty isn't even a top five defenseman in the NHL. Zdeno Chara, Nicklas Lidstrom, Shea Weber, PK Subban, Keith Yandle and Duncan Keith could all make a case for being better than Doughty.
Doughty was not a shutdown defenseman last season, he wasn't a physical presence and he was not an explosive offensive player.
Sure, he has great potential, but I wouldn't give a player massive money for many years if he has been unable to consistently show me that he can be a top player at his position.
If the Kings and Doughty have more trouble reaching a deal, they should trade his rights. The Kings would get solid draft picks and/or a good young player in return.
The team acquiring the rights would only give up quality assets to get Doughty if they knew he was willing to sign, and they'd have enough cap space for it.
If Doughty wants to be the Kings highest player, he is crazy. He is not better than forward Anze Kopitar, who leads the team with his $6.8 million annual salary cap hit through the 2015-16 season.
Doughty is a solid player, but he's not worth $7 million a season, and if he refuses to negotiate a contract that is beneficial to the Kings' ability to create a contender for years to come, then the team should trade his rights.
Nicholas Goss is a Boston Bruins featured columnist for Bleacher Report, and was the organization's on-site reporter for the 2011 Stanley Cup Finals in Boston. Follow him on Twitter for Bruins and NHL news and analysis.