On Wednesday morning, the Los Angeles Kings announced that defenseman Mikey Anderson signed an eight-year contract extension carrying an average annual value of $4.1 million.
This is excellent value for Anderson who's a staple on the Kings' top pair alongside Drew Doughty.
Anderson's developed into a premier shutdown defenseman in the league.
According to Allthreezones tracking data, just John Marino and Joel Hanley have allowed fewer zone entries leading to scoring chances. Anderson defended a significantly higher number of rushes than Marino and Hanley.
Essentially, no player is defending the rush with more efficiency than Anderson.
Anderson's also become more aggressive this season, stepping up at the red line and defensive blue line far more often.
His emergence as an elite defender has been crucial in Doughty's recent resurgence.
Doughty touched on Anderson's growth as a player.
"He's always had a good stick," said Doughty. "He's maybe improved on making some more plays. Like, he's good at making little pop plays and stuff in the D-zone, but his neutral zone puck movement I think has gotten better. He plays simple, but he's starting to make some more plays cross-ice or up the middle. When he sees them, he has the confidence to make those plays. So, besides that, he's just getting better at all the things he's already good at."
Doughty also touched on Anderson's improvement as a leader.
"Yeah, he's more vocal now," Doughty said. "He's one of the guys that helps me a lot in the room with that part of the game. He's talking, given good advice to the guys, really good at communicating about plays that maybe go wrong or go right. He's good at that. He's got that leadership quality in him that you want from a young guy. He'll be a future assistant captain on this team one day for sure.
Having a quality player and leader locked up long-term at just $4.1 million is a fantastic deal for the Kings.
He's the kind of defenseman you need to win championships.
He's a big part of what McLellan considers a "secondary leadership group" alongside players like Adrian Kempe, Phil Danault and Alex Iafallo.
This deal also gives Rob Blake one less thing to worry about this summer. A summer that will be huge for the future of the Kings as they look to take the next step and once again contend for the Stanley Cup.
Knowing you have him secured for the long-term and a manageable cap-hit will give Blake more freedom to work on other deals.
This is another homerun from Blake and should set the Kings up with a top-pairing left defensemen for a long time.