I told you all many months ago that the Kings would have to get rid of two of their $3MM+ contracts in order to get under the cap. I gave a short list of (pick two of) Justin Williams, Jarret Stoll, Willie Mitchell and Matt Greene. This was of course long before we all knew that Willie Mitchell was done for the season, and maybe longer. My argument back in January was that the Kings can’t get rid of Justin Williams because they have trouble scoring, so the obvious solution is to get rid of Jarret Stoll, who is over-paid for a 3rd or 4th line center anyway. Everybody knew that Slava Voynov was up for a new contract this summer. Since his ascendency in 2011-12, a very large pay-raise for Voynov has been budgeted in for 2013 on, just as a huge hike is in the cards for Dustin Brown the following season. Why was Dustin Penner signed to a one-year deal? Because everyone could see that the Kings needed the cap-room for 2013-14. Re-signing Penner again this summer — unless he somehow managed to score like Jeff Carter in 2012-13 (he didn’t) — was never going to happen. Losing one of Mitchell, Scuderi or Greene was always going to happen (now add Robyn Regehr to the list of expensive old defensemen — at least one must go).
The twin facts of (1) the Kings scoring problems and (2) needing to produce a steady stream of NHL-ready prospects to take the place of those $3MM+ contracts, were the reasons I lobbied so hard and long for keeping Andrei Loktionov in lieu of Jarret Stoll. If Dean Lombardi hadn’t bizarrely and short-sightedly traded Loktionov to New Jersey for almost-literally nothing, it would be fairly obvious to everyone what needs to happen now. And I won’t even mention how nice it would have been to have an actual NHL-caliber offensive center to step in when Mike Richards and Jarret Stoll both went down in the playoffs with injuries. Who could have foreseen the increased potential of injuries after last year’s extended playoffs, long lay-off, and compressed schedule of the shortened season? (Hint: everyone.)
Whatever. Loktionov is gone. Going to have to trade Stoll and let Trevor Lewis return to his original center position. Or give Linden Vey a shot. Maybe not this summer, but certainly by next (when Dustin Brown’s cap hit doubles, folks).
But I started this post to look at the Mayor’s assessment of the Kings’ current cap situation. So let’s do that.
Unless you were a math major in college, the NHL salary cap likely bores you once the conversation gets past a certain surface level.
I wasn’t a math major. But I can add.
Putting it as simple [sic] as possible, the LA Kings are screwed.
But, per above, this day has been marked on the calendar for years.
[...] Let’s assume Clifford, Lewis and Muzzin are absolutely coming back. How much will that cost? Perhaps they could get more than what it takes to ‘qualify’ them.
I assume it will cost more than the required minimum qualifying offer.
Next, let’s assume Bernier is traded and his replacement will cost you $1.5M for next season.
That’s an odd assumption since for not much more than $1.5MM you can re-sign Bernier. If Lombardi intends to ride Quick into the sunset, why not get some old veteran goalie for $750K and save yourself a million dollars?
There is of course another option. I brought it up before, and nobody liked the idea then. I assume it will be just as unpopular now.
Trade Quick for an elite left-winger. Hand the reigns to Bernier. That’s the whole point of having Bernier, to go to him when Quick gets too expensive and buy yourself a few more years of prudent cap management.
I’m not advocating for this, really. Just saying, if we’re not simply following our hearts, we have to consider the options.
Knowing that LA will need money to take a run at Unrestricted Free Agents Rob Scuderi and/or Dustin Penner, we might as well pencil Jordan Nolan into the roster. He’s the least expensive option among all the Kings RFAs, as it would only take $577K to qualify him.
Penner is gone. Or, to put it another way, if you want to keep Penner, you’re going to have to get rid of one of Williams, Richards or Carter, and — no.
Everybody knows that ‘open D4′ spot is reserved for Voynov. [...] The only other players left to deal with at this point would be Ellerby, Martinez, Penner and Scuderi. It would take $735K to qualify Ellerby and $774K to do the same with Martinez.
I don’t know why we’re even talking about Keaton Ellerby. There’s no room for him, is there? Doughty, Scuderi (yes, re-sign him at whatever price — yes, he’s more important than Jarret Stoll), Voynov, Muzzin, Greene, Martinez, Regehr. That’s seven. What’s the big deal?
Willie Mitchell will either be on LTIR or bought-out. His trade value is minimal. Actually, if anyone thinks he’s really healthy, I would prefer to trade Regehr and keep Mitchell. Either way. One of those two must go.
[...] The 2013-14 LA Kings line-up would look as follows:
What happened to Penner? There’s no money left to pay him.
What happened to Scuderi? There’s no money left to pay him.
Want to bring Scuderi back? Well, if Mitchell goes on Long Term Injured Reserve, he could possibly be a replacement for that slot.
But, Mitchell’s status isn’t expected to be known by July 1st. Meanwhile, Scuderi’s likely to be offered a long-term, big-money deal from another team once the free agency window opens (i.e. four years, $16M from the Islanders). Thus, that’s a very slippery road to travel.
Want to bring back Penner? Same thing. The money is going to have to come from somewhere. And in his case, keeping him may be a necessity because the organization is woefully thin at left wing.
Now, there is another option.
If you trade a player currently signed to a contract, that would free up some cap space to sign Scuderi and/or Penner.
That’s just reality.
My own take is not too different. I guess I would just back off the adjective “screwed.”
Dustin Brown ($3.18MM) / Anze Kopitar ($6.8MM) / Justin Williams ($3.65MM)
Tyler Toffoli ($870K) / Mike Richards ($5.75MM) / Jeff Carter ($5.27MM)
Dwight King ($750K) / Jarret Stoll ($3.25MM / Trevor Lewis ($1MM)
Kyle Clifford ($900K) / Colin Fraser ($825K) / Jordan Nolan ($700K)
Tanner Pearson ($925K) / Linden Vey ($900K)
Robyn Regehr ($3MM) / Drew Doughty ($7MM)
Slava Voynov ($3.9MM) / Rob Scuderi ($3.4MM)
Jake Muzzin ($850K) / Matt Greene ($2.95MM)
Alec Martinez ($750K)
Jonathan Quick ($5.8MM)
Jonathan Bernier ($1.75MM)
LTIR, RETIREMENT or COMPLIANCE BUY-OUT
- Lose one of Mitchell, Scuderi or Regehr. I chose Mitchell because I don’t think Lombardi would get rid of Regehr, having just signed him. But I would take a healthy Mitchell over Regehr, if such a creature exists.
- Lose one of Penner, Stoll, or Williams. I chose Penner because he’s a UFA and he has regular season “issues.”
- Pearson, Andreoff, Clifford, Nolan and King are five guys fighting for three spots, and an additional one in the press box. Depending on DL’s confidence in Pearson’s and Andreoff’s development, one of Nolan or…well, Nolan, could be dealt, I guess.
- I wouldn’t be surprised if Colin Fraser got moved in an attempt to get the fourth line back to a place where it can play real minutes. Maybe Vey (too small?) is ready to play center between Clifford and somebody. He already plays on a line with Pearson in Manchester.
- I will make my annual suggestion of thinking about shipping out Jarret Stoll. But I’m not all that interested in arguing about it. My response to counter-points will be from the archives.