Kovalchuk Musings with tons of self-serving disclaimers

The first of which is, I don’t really know if I think Kovalchuk fits in the Terry Murray system, and beyond that, I don’t know how much I care. But it’s possible he might not fit and I might care a lot. Don’t know. Second disclaimer: you might think that Kovalchuk at a $6MM cap hit is dreaming. You might be right. Here’s my math:

10 years, $60MM. Salary in millions from 2010-2019: 11, 11, 10, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1. He can be the highest paid player in the league for three years. Kings can have a livable Hossa/Nash-like cap-hit, and he can retire in seven years and go to the KHL (if it still exists).

Third disclaimer: the deal is Brown and Johnson, plus a prospect and some picks for Kovalchuk. You could expand the trade to include a fourth liner to help us this season, but what I’m looking at here is cap numbers for 2010-2011, and so I’m ignoring the extra ATL player aspect of the potential pie-in-sky deal. Why Brown and Johnson? Well, my reasoning is essentially that Brown is in the middle of his second sub-par season in a row and yet, with the Olympics coming up (and his newly announced alternate-captaincy), his stock has probably never been higher. Johnson, also Olympic-bound, has been a mixed bag. Both have nice affordable cap-responsible contracts. Both would be good PR for ATL. Hey, wait, maybe I’m offering too much!

Doesn’t matter. We’re really looking at cap numbers. And for the cap numbers to work, the Kings have to send some salary back. Will Waddell take Handzus and Frolov instead? I doubt it like I doubted Lombardi could get Smyth for Quincey and Preissing. Adjust your figures accordingly.

Disclaimer #4: I re-signed Frolov at a cap-hit of $3.9MM. You might think he’s seeking $5MM or something. Unless he’s about to go on a goal-scoring binge, he ain’t going to get it.

[UPDATE: some more thoughts on the cap situation for next year vis-a-vis which players you re-sign and which you don’t: in this model I traded Brown and re-signed Frolov. If you trade Frolov and keep Brown, the cap figures are roughly the same. I also re-signed Jones. I think this is a reasonable move (since he’s been hugely successful for the Kings thus far — the Kings record with him in the line-up is excellent). But if you don’t sign Jones, you’re going to have to bring in someone in that salary range. All the d can’t be minimum wage rookies.

The other thing I did was assume Schenn will make the team and will have a bonus structure in the neighborhood of Hickey and Doughty. I think this is a necessary assumption.

You might also decide that trading Johnson is a mistake; I think this every other time I re-read this post. But if you try keeping him (and, say, throwing prospects at ATL instead), it pushes us over the cap ceiling. So you have to get rid of someone else who makes Johnson money or better. And that’s a list of people no-one wants to lose. So, the bottom line is, you have to get rid of at least a Brown/Frolov salary and hope that you can sign IK to a Hossa-ish cap figure of $6MM.

If he is to get anything approaching $10MM as a cap hit — and I don’t think DL will go for that — that’s another $4MM player you have to lose. Personally, I think it becomes dicey at that price, but the package would undoubtedly be two of Frolov, Brown, Handzus, Stoll or Williams, otherwise the numbers simply don’t work. And yes, this factors in all of the players whose contracts expire. If you look at the chart (right), you’ll see there’s no Purcell, Ivanans, Harrold, O’Donnell or Cloutier.]

The point is, as the chart (generated by capgeek of course) shows, it’s doable under the cap.

And here are the opening night lines:





(swap with Richardson, Loktionov as F13, F14)



Drewiske/Voynov (or Hickey, I don’t care)

Muzzin (sub your favorite big mean person, e.g. Teubert)



  14 comments for “Kovalchuk Musings with tons of self-serving disclaimers

  1. Mike
    January 11, 2010 at 4:03 PM

    If Kovalchuk doesn’t fit the Terry Murray system, then get rid of the system and/or Terry Murray.

  2. James
    January 11, 2010 at 10:10 PM

    A-freaking-men, Mike! For goodness’ sake get us a goal scorer…everyone knows that January-February is when the Kings traditionally lay down and die (provided we were there in the first place).

    This team needs a spark, and sooner (trade) rather than later (free agent).

  3. TomHughes
    January 11, 2010 at 11:32 PM

    I don’t know what it is for me…I’m so ready for the Kings to get a big star player that ought to really jump start the offense and hopefully make them a much more legitimate threat. We started off the year so strong and have regressed to being a little better than mediocrity. Four wins in a row, followed by a string of losses seems to be a consistent theme. The biggest disappointment for me this year was watching Kopitar go from being the best center in the league to the same spot he was in last year. There are a multitude of key pieces that can dominate, I especially like Quisp’s numbers regarding the importance of Stoll and Handzus. Are we really one amazing LW’er away from going from good to great? I’d like to think so, but on some nights I’m much more certain of it than others.

  4. TomHughes
    January 11, 2010 at 11:33 PM

    PS: I love how much thinking has gone into these Kovalchuk posts, if only everybody could as convinced as we are that this can and needs to work out!

  5. FUNDA
    January 12, 2010 at 2:52 PM

    You don’t see OD getting another year extension? Interesting, I love him but I know he’s getting old and some of our kids are preparing for the jump.

    • quisp
      January 12, 2010 at 3:32 PM

      He could. I like him. I think it will largely be his call.

  6. falmer
    January 12, 2010 at 3:35 PM

    @FUNDA: I believe there is a cute, young blonde with a ring on her finger who lives in the same house as SOD. There are no children who live in this house. Just wild speculation here, but if I were in his shoes I might want to be starting a big family asap.

  7. January 13, 2010 at 12:45 PM

    I still don’t get why you traded Brown. If we have Kovi, we have two top-six left wingers in Kovi and Smyth. There’s no need for Frolov. Also, with Stoll and Handzus, why would we have Schenn center the fourth line? That’s the exact reason why he didn’t make the team this year. Plus his cap hit is $3.5M. It doesn’t make sense to do that. So let’s assume you trade Frolov, Johnson and some picks/prospects for Kovi (and re-sign him). Your opening night roster would be:




    Under the cap.

    • quisp
      January 13, 2010 at 1:04 PM

      Well, as I said (somewhere), you can swap Frolov for Brown, and that’s fine with me, and makes sense. And it seems, well, less mean. And I think the line-up you posted is a good one, other than the fact that you left off Moller (who will be on the team and who ultimately will be better than Brown), Loktionov (who may play another year in the AHL, but may not), and Schenn, who I think will probably make the team next year (though he could easily end up in the AHL for a bit). He doesn’t have to play center, either. He may get the left wing surgery.

      Westgarth, I don’t think is in the cards. Unless he turns it around.

      I think the bottom line difference between your perspective and mine is that I think it’s possible Lombardi places much more value in his own draftees (Moller, Loktionov, Schenn, Clifford, Siimmonds) than you may think he does; and, conversely, I think it’s possible that Lombardi is less attached to the “core” players brought in by Taylor than people generally assume (again, see Visnovsky, Cammalleri).

      I also see a leadership vacuum on the Kings. I think the summer weight training thing led by Brown and Greene was a great thing. But that’s not going to be the deciding factor in evaluating Brown. Neither is the fact that he’s likable. And I do like him.

      If he turns his season around and it proves not to be a repeat of last year, then that’s good news for everyone. But if he doesn’t — or if Lombardi decides he isn’t going to — I think it’s a reasonable move to deal him while his stock is as high as it’s going to get.

      A perfect storm of hockey drama is coming. Actually, we’re in it now. Between now and the Olympic break, the Kings will either maintain/regain their standing, or the wheels will fall off. I believe it’s 15 games. When there was 20 games to the break, I think I said the Kings needed to get 24 of those points. They’ve gotten four. So now they need 20 out of 30 points. Totally doable. And if Brown turns it on right now, he’ll be harder to trade. But if he doesn’t, and the unofficial trade deadline of the Olympics gets closer and closer, and the Kings falter, it would be so easy to call that a failure of leadership on the ice, and send Brown packing.

      I find myself being persuaded more and more by my own argument; however, I don’t want to deal Brown. I would rather he pull out all the stops, prove his leadership chops, fill the net with pucks, and then Kovalchuk will be had for Frolov, Johnson and picks.

      The next fifteen games is literally the biggest test Brown has ever faced. I don’t think I’m exaggerating that.

  8. Sam
    January 13, 2010 at 12:54 PM

    I wonder if ATL would take Randy Jones, Frolov, and a package of picks and prospects? Probably not likely but I’m not Jones fan, his defense is atrocious.

  9. January 13, 2010 at 1:00 PM

    If you’re talking prospects, there’s two number-two centers in our system: Schenn and Loktoionov. One of them will be expendable. I’d say it’s Loki.

    Frolov, Loktoinov, Moller and a 1st for a signed Kovalchuk.

    • quisp
      January 13, 2010 at 1:21 PM

      That would be two Thrashers jerseys I would order immediately. I think Lombardi deals Brown before he deals Loktionov and Moller. I think if we were to break into Lombardi’s office and our eyes were cast upon the greatness of the big board with the legendary boxes, I think we would see that 2011-2012 has


      Who are the top-six left wings? Could be Smyth and Kovi or Frolov or someone not on our radar yet. Could be Schenn slid over the left wing. For RWs, there’s Williams, who will be a UFA the summer before that. Does he get re-signed? Well, Moller and Doughty are RFAs, so I kinda doubt the money will be there for a 3rd liner. Which is what he will be by then.

      Yeah, I see where the problem is. I think Moller and Siimmonds are going to be top-six, so brown is expendable, and you think Brown and Simmonds (?) project top-six, so Moller is expendable. Is that about right?

      • January 13, 2010 at 1:25 PM

        I think we’re about close here. The question about Simmonds: is he a top-six on an elite team? I doubt it. I think he’s an awesome third-line winger who can do stints on the top-six.

        Don’t get me wrong, I share the wood for Loktionov. But I don’t think you draft Schenn top-five to be a third-line center. I also don’t think you see Handzus AND Stoll gone in 11-12. Maybe it’s just me.

  10. quisp
    January 13, 2010 at 1:45 PM

    Agreed re Schenn. He’s a top-six center, but maybe not season after next. He will be quite powerful on the third line in ’11, I think. But again, I’m pulling line-ups out of my orifice.

    Re Stoll/Handzus: yeah, I know. Handzus will be done after next year, unless he re-signs. Stoll’s last contract year is the aforementioned ’11-’12. I’m not sure what happens to him, and it all depends on how the prospects develop, how Stoll performs between now and then, and what other needs arise. Because Stoll is one of those names that is going to come up in trade talks every spring, because everyone wants someone like that for the playoffs. Kings, included, obviously, which is why you brought it up.

    A lot depends on the development of Schenn and Loktionov. And Moller. And Clifford and Nolan and …

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