Having experienced free agency both as a player and now as a member of the Los Angeles Kings’ front office, Kings President of Business Operations Luc Robitaille can offer LAKings.com a unique perspective on the free agency period that began with such a frenzy on Sunday.
“It was really intense,” Robitaille said. “The one thing that surprised me is that I never knew how anxious and nerve wracking it is for management too. As a player you are excited and nervous, but there is just as much pressure when you are on the management end and you are trying to make your team better.
“You never know how many teams are after the same guy, there is a lot more pressure than I thought.”
The Kings attempted to make their team better by adding four free agents on Monday, the second day of free agency, signing defenseman Tom Preissing and center Michal Handzus to four-year deals; inking left wing Kyle Calder to a two-year contract and locking up left wing Ladislav Nagy for one year.
“Up front we added three guys with real good hands that can play on the power play, pk and five-on-five,” Robitaille said. “I think Handzus is the key, he can really make plays and is a real big guy who will help in our division against the Anaheims and the San Joses.
“Nagy has a lot of potential and I think he is really excited about being here and Calder has had some real good years in the past. They all complement our young guys, Kopitar, Frolov, Cammy and Brown, really well.”
On Tuesday the Kings bolstered their defensive corps, also signing Brad Stuart to a one-year deal.
“On defense we added Preissing and Stuart. Preissing was one of the key guys in Ottawa last year and adding him was big. Stuart could be the hero from the blue line for us; he is a young guy and was a first round draft pick. I think he is really going to help us.”
The signings should help the Kings in the short term as well as the long term as the team continues to build around its core group of young players.
“Dean looked at our organization and has a model,” Robitaille said. “These signings make us good next year, even better the following year and when our young guys are good in three years, we can afford to keep those guys.
“Dean and his staff had to make some key crucial decisions. It was a great experience to be a part of it.”
Robitaille, of course, has some experience with free agency as a player. Robitaille signed as a free agent with the Detroit Red Wings on July 5, 2001 and returned home to the Kings on July 24, 2003.
“I thought I could be useful giving him the player’s perspective,” Robitaille said. “I think he kind of liked my input on that, how it is on the other side.
"It was really interesting and was a great learning experience.”