The LA Kings prospect spent most of last season in Ontario of the American Hockey League.
Another restricted free agent was re-signed by the LA Kings on Thursday when the team re-signed Austin Strand to a one-year, two-way contract with an AAV of $771,750. Strand will once again be a restricted free agent when this new contract expires.
The @LAKings have signed defenseman Austin Strand to a one-year, two-way contract extension. He made his NHL debut last season with the Kings, notching an assist through 13 contests. He also played in 19 games with the Reign, recording five points (1-4=5).
— LA Kings PR (@LAKingsPR) August 5, 2021
The 24-year old right defenseman had a solid if not spectacular season last year. In 19 games for the Ontario Reign, he posted one goal and four assists while primarily playing the role of a shutdown defenseman. When injuries decimated the Kings defense last season, Strand was called up and played surprisingly well.
In 13 games for the NHL club, he posted only one point (an assist) but was very solid both defensively and physically and ended his time in LA with a +2 rating.
“I thought he, once we calculated the pace of the game and how it was going to be played with their forwards streaking down the wall, I thought he adapted well and defended well,” head coach Todd McLellan said after Strand’s NHL debut. “He is dangerous in the offensive zone, you know, [he] had a shot blocked that led to a penalty, but it closes in on you a little bit quicker at this level. And he learned that tonight, but he was just fine.”
There will be a logjam for the seven defensemen spots available during this Kings training camp, so it is conceivable Strand starts this season in Ontario – as long as he clears waivers as he is no longer waiver exempt. Being on a two-way contract simply means he will make less money playing the AHL than in the NHL.
With the Austin Strand signing, the LA Kings have only two restricted free agents left to sign, defensemen Kale Clague and Jacob Moverare.