LOS ANGELES – The Los Angeles Kings have agreed to terms on a five-year contract extension with defenseman Lubomir Visnovsky, Kings President/General Manager Dean Lombardi announced Wednesday. Per club policy, terms of the agreement were not announced.
“Whenever you’re building a team you’ve got to have defensemen that have an offensive dimension and can make plays," Lombardi said. "He’s been a King from day one, which is important, and when you have a quality player like him, it’s important to keep your own. I think that signifies a commitment to continuity. I think players like Lubo make all of the players around him better because of the way he plays. That’s what good defensemen do and that’s why defensemen are important.”
Visnovsky, 31, has played in 417 games over six seasons with the Kings (2000-07) and he ranks fourth all-time in goals (62), assists (176) and points (238) by a Kings defenseman. Originally selected by the Kings in the fourth-round (118th overall) in the 2000 NHL Entry Draft, the 5-10, 188-pound native of Topolcany, Slovakia, set a career high with 18 goals for the Kings this past season, represented the Kings at the 2007 NHL All-Star Game and was named the club’s Outstanding Defenseman at the end of the season.
Visnovsky finished the 2006-07 season with 58 points (18-40=58) in 69 games. His 58 points led all Kings defensemen for the second consecutive season and his eight power-play goals ranked second among Kings defensemen and fifth overall on the club. In addition, Visnovsky set career highs for shots (159), shooting percentage (11.3) and time-on-ice average (24:27, led the team) while finishing second on the team in takeaways (37) and third in blocked shots (107).
Visnovsky is the only defenseman in club history to ever lead his team in scoring for a season after recording a career-high 67 points with the Kings in 2005-06. His 67 points represented the fourth-highest single-season total ever produced by a Kings defenseman. In addition, Visnovsky, the only defenseman in the NHL to lead his team in scoring that year, was named the club’s Most Valuable Player and Outstanding Defenseman after tying for fourth in scoring and assists among all NHL defensemen. Visnovsky also led the Kings (and set a career high) with 50 assists and he paced the team with a time-on-ice average of 23:16 per game and with 41 power-play points (10-31=41). Visnovsky’s 10 power-play goals ranked second on the team and his 80 games played tied for second on the club. In addition, his hat trick at Dallas on Nov. 2, 2005, was just the fifth hat trick ever recorded by a Kings defenseman (Rob Blake, Steve Duchesne, Dominic LaVoie and Ian Turnbull are the others).
Visnovsky played for HC Slovnaft Bratislava (Slovakia Extraleague) and finished second on his team and 12th in the league with 38 points (13-25=38) in 2004-05 (the NHL’s lockout season). He scored 12 points (2-10=12) in 14 postseason games and earned Best Player honors while leading his team to the league championship.
Selected as the Kings Outstanding Defenseman at the conclusion of the 2003-04 campaign, Visnovsky finished second in scoring among Kings defensemen with 29 points (8-21=29) even though injuries limited him to just 58 games. Five of his eight goals came on the power play (led all Kings defensemen) and he finished second on the team with an average of 24:02 of ice time per game.
Visnovsky finished third in scoring among Kings blue-liners with 24 points in 2002-03 while averaging 19:20 of ice time per game, and in 2001-02 he finished fourth in scoring among Kings defensemen with 21 points (4-17=21) while averaging 16:14 of ice time per game. Two of his four goals that season were game winners.
Visnovsky led all rookie NHL defensemen in scoring with 39 points (7-32=39) in 2000-01 and his 39 points ranked fourth among all rookies while his 32 assists ranked second best overall. Visnovsky also ranked third among rookies with a plus-16 rating and he was the third Kings rookie to ever be named to the NHL’s All-Rookie Team (joining Blake and Duchesne). In addition, Visnovsky was named the Kings Best Newcomer at the end of the season.
Visnovsky last skated for his native Slovakia at the 2006 Winter Olympic Games, and the three-time Olympian also participated in both the 2002 and 1998 Winter Olympic Games. In addition, Visnovsky is a veteran of several other International tournaments, highlighted by a gold medal at the 2002 World Championships (5 GP, 2-1=3), a silver medal at the 2000 World Championships (9 GP, 0-6=6) and a bronze medal while leading all defensemen in scoring (9 GP, 4-8=12) at the 2003 World Championships.