Kings’ cap situation in 2013-14, compliance buy-outs – pt. 3

We discussed the Kings’ cap situation and possible buy-out candidates a few weeks ago in this post and this one. To summarize:

  • The cap’s going down to $64.5 million. 
  • Voynov, Martinez, Muzzin, Clifford, Lewis, Nolan, Loktionov and Bernier are RFA this summer.
  • I’m nearly 100% sure Martinez, Muzzin, Lewis and Bernier all have arbitration rights.
  • Scuderi, Penner, Gagne, Drewiske and Richardson are UFA this summer.
  • It has been pointed out that I may have slightly over-valued the 2013 RFA contracts. With that in mind, here are the lowest cap hits I can imagine for those players: Voynov, $1.75MM; Martinez, $1.5MM; Lewis, $1.5MM; Bernier, $1.525MM (that’s his minimum qualifying offer); Clifford, $1.5MM; Nolan, $1MM; Muzzin, $900K.
  • Scuderi is either re-signed at $3.5MM or replaced by someone else in that range.
  • Penner, Gagne, Richardson and Drewiske walk. Loktionov? Traded, unless his fate changes in the next couple of months.
  • Toffoli makes the team. (And if he doesn’t, consider that his replacement will almost certainly not be cheaper.)
  • Two other minimum wagers (I say Pearson and Andreoff, but pick your own favorites) fill out the roster.
  • That roster is actually $545K over next year’s cap.
  • I will give Lombardi the benefit of the doubt and assume he can shave that much off his various RFA and UFA deals…
  • …in which case, the Kings will just barely be able to squeak under the cap without buying out anyone…
  • …however, I seriously doubt Muzzin, Martinez and Lewis will sign for such a low figure, given that they can take the Kings to arbitration, two of them have cup rings, and all three are proving themselves to be pretty valuable.
  • Which means, one of the big salaries is going to have to be moved (i.e. traded for picks and prospects or bought-out).
  • Stoll, Greene or Mitchell. I choose Stoll.
  • As I said in the posts linked above, you could buy out Carter or Richards — but on a team that is starved for scoring, that seems insane.

Mayor’s Manor: Dean Lombardi Talks Kings Contracts and Buy-Out Options

Perhaps the easiest way to look at the big picture for the LA Kings is like this:

- The salary cap this season is set at $70.2 million and will be reduced to $64.3 million for next year.

Rob Scuderi set to become an unrestricted free agent this summer, so his contract is coming off the books. However, he would either need to be re-signed or replaced.

Dustin Brown is eligible for a contract extension beginning on July 1. He has one more year remaining on his current deal, but his agent and the team can begin negotiating this summer. [...] It’s hard to work on other deals until you have your key pieces locked up.

Brown is due for a huge raise, having taken one for the team years ago when he bought into Lombardi’s “team friendly cap hit” philosophy and signed for a bargain basement $3.1MM cap hit. That could easily double, but not until the season after next.

And then there’s the two compliance buyouts. Basically, [...] General Managers [have] been given two “do overs” for any bad contracts they have on the books. If they buy a player out, either in the summer of 2013 or 2014, that money won’t count towards the salary cap.

In Los Angeles, the two most likely candidates [are] Jeff Carter and Mike Richards. This has nothing to do with their skills and abilities. It’s only a math problem in a cap crazy NHL. When the Flyers signed Richards and Carter to big money, long-term deals, some wondered if those were smart moves in the cap era. Now, Dean Lombardi owns those contracts. Richards is signed through 2020 and Carter is inked until 2022.

That’s a long, long time.

My first objection to buying out either Carter or Richards is the one I’ve already stated, here and elsewhere: goals. The Kings need goals. Lombardi can’t (and won’t) buy out goals.

My second objection is that I can’t imagine a GM dumping players who are actually in their primes now in order not to be saddled with a cap albatross (saddled with an albatross? Sorry, metaphor police), several years down the road — 2018 and beyond, let’s say —  at a time when the odds of Lombardi still being with the Kings would be pretty low, GM job-security being what it is.

Lombardi probably came within a few losses of being fired last season. He’s not going to bite the bullet to help some future Kings GM.

My third objection is that the Carter and Richards cap hits are a bargain now (in the $5MM range) and are likely to be just as much a bargain in five years, when — yes, they will not be as productive, but — inflation and rising cap ceilings will make that $5MM look smaller and smaller each year.

Fourth objection: as Lombardi pointed out in his interview with the Mayor, in the new CBA, you now can retain a portion of a players’ cap hit and salary when you trade him. That means that the Carter and Richards contracts, to the degree that they might have been seen as toxic before the new deal, now are much less burdensome. That’s because a trading partner — in five years, say — doesn’t have to take the whole cap hit of Carter or Richards. Lombardi can agree to eat a percentage of it. This makes such contracts much more tradeable.

As a result, it strikes me as much more likely — if Lombardi is going to utilize either of his compliance buy-outs — it will be to solve a short-term problem, as a last resort if he isn’t able to move an asset through trade.

 
  • Kings of Hockeywood

    I know I was one of those who first said Carter and Richards could be the buy-out victims, but the more I have thought about it, the more I agree with your assessment, Quisp. Carter at least provides a real spark to the offense. Richards isn’t nearly as valuable offensively but he does provide other intangibles, a lot like Brown. I don’t think either of them could be bought out.

    I think Justin Williams and Jarret Stoll are going to be bought out. And here’s why: you’re right, Toffoli will be on the team next season. And he is going to be on the top line. Toffoli replaces Williams and his $3.6 million cap hit which has another two years left on it. Odds are that he will be more productive too.

    Stoll also has two more years with a $3.25 million cap hit. Stoll only got that number because Lombardi wanted to bring the whole team back to defend the Cup. It’s way more than he’s worth at this point, especially when there are a number of prospects in the organization who could replace him already. Whether it’s Vey, Weal, Loktionov, or one of the centers currently on the roster but playing the wing, there is somebody who can do what Stoll’s been doing, but for a $2 million a year savings.

    I like Williams and Stoll as much as anyone, but they are overpaid and can be replaced with cheap kids who will probably even be better producers. They are gone and with $4 million in savings, the Kings would still have some room if they feel they have to add someone else to bolster the lineup.

    • http://www.mcsorleys-stick.com/ Quisp

      Williams and Stoll will move on sometime between now and 2015. It’s just a matter of when. Even if Toffoli and co don’t pan out, Williams won’t be the answer at that point, as he will be well into decline.

      • USHA#17

        Feel the same in re to Williams who hasn’t come close to playing the type of smart hockey he showed two seasons ago. Stoll will go sooner if a new faceoff artist appears.

    • https://twitter.com/BobKnob2point0 Bob Knob

      I would be a-ok with buying out richards if he continues to no show for prolonged periods of time again this year. Lombardi would never do it in a million years, though.

      • https://www.icloud.com/ DougS

        Given that Richards cost two significant young players and Carter cost another, I’d say that Dean has, to some extent, staked his next contract extension on them, for better or worse. No way either gets bought out. Traded, perhaps, if significant value can be gotten in return. But not dumped.

        I agree that Williams and/or Stoll are much better candidates.

        • http://www.mcsorleys-stick.com/ Quisp

          Schenn and Simmonds yes. Jack Johnson, no.

        • https://twitter.com/BobKnob2point0 Bob Knob

          I hope he doesn’t trade carter. He’s clearly a step above Richards in terms of talent.

          • http://www.mcsorleys-stick.com/ Quisp

            Won’t trade Carter for several years.

    • USHA#17

      One point when talking Stoll – Loktionov. Loktionov has been fairly ineffective on the draw.