Are the Kings “screwed”? (And is it news?)

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.

Mayor’s Manor: Why the Kings Can’t Bring Everybody Back

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.

[…] Next…

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:

Dustin Brown – Anze Kopitar – Justin Williams
Mike Richards – Jeff Carter – Tyler Toffoli
Dwight King – Jarret Stoll – Trevor Lewis
Kyle CliffordColin Fraser – Jordan Nolan

Robyn Regehr – Drew Doughty
Willie Mitchell – Slava Voynov
Jake Muzzin – Matt Greene

Jonathan Quick
Back-up Goalie

[…]

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.” 

FORWARDS

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)

DEFENSE

Robyn Regehr ($3MM) / Drew Doughty ($7MM)

Slava Voynov ($3.9MM) / Rob Scuderi ($3.4MM)

Jake Muzzin ($850K) / Matt Greene ($2.95MM)

Alec Martinez ($750K) 

GOALIES

Jonathan Quick ($5.8MM)

Jonathan Bernier ($1.75MM)

LTIR, RETIREMENT or COMPLIANCE BUY-OUT

Willie Mitchell

CAP HIT

$64.17MM

CAP SPACE

$130K

ROSTER

23

Bottom line:

  • 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.
 

  12 comments for “Are the Kings “screwed”? (And is it news?)

  1. DavHalt
    June 14, 2013 at 10:49 AM

    You’re thinking is mostly bang-on, as usual. While Stoll’s importance to the overall success of the team was highlighted by his absence in the SJ series (we were chewed up and spit out in the faceoff circle), he is really expensive at that spot. And I agree with your assessment on Mitchell.

    I sense that one of the younger players will get qualified and then dealt. I could see a combination of King/Nolan/Muzzin/Martinez packaged with either Bernier or Stoll to bring in not much cap relief, but perhaps better versatility or fit on the left side.

    The hard part is trying to manage things for a year of that pre-determined cap when if things go as they went this year, the cap will jump again (even with the new deal) the following year. I could even see Deano ‘standing pat’ with what you have listed up there for a year (knowing it is a shaky setup) in hopes of breathing room in 2014-15

  2. Hoolie
    June 14, 2013 at 2:25 PM

    I think Bernier is gone before July 5th because the threat of an offer sheet is too high. If someone – say Edmonton – offer sheets him at $2.5 million the Kings could either take a 2nd in compensation – way less than they want- or match and can’t trade him for a year and screw themselves even more on the cap front. I’d do it if I was Edmonton looming at another year of hoping Dubnyk becomes a number 1 goalie.

    And one more thing – trade Stoll.

    • June 14, 2013 at 9:25 PM

      The thing about pre-FA deadline deals is that (unless my memory is mistaken) they tend not to fetch that much in return anyway. They’re usually taken as signs of desperation, as you try to get whatever you can in a less-than-favorable situation.

      Unless Lombardi can package JB with one of the redundant young guys (as DavHalt suggests) for someone good, I’m not sure that he’ll do any better than he would if he proceeded as normally and risked a qualifying offer.

      • Hoolie
        June 15, 2013 at 12:44 AM

        Just saw Pierre Lebrun on TV saying DL has talked to 10 teams about Bernier and thinks they want to move him quickly – perhaps even before the draft. We’ll see if that happens or not.

  3. Doughty99
    June 15, 2013 at 4:56 AM

    Good read, Quisp. I especially like giving Pearson a shot and agree 100% on finding a serviceable backup goalie as cheaply as possible. A healthy JQ will hopefully return to 60-65 games.

    If Deano’s ten teams comment to LeBrun is even partially accurate, I hope DL packages Stoll w/ Bernier and sells to the highest bidder. I’d be delighted w/ a pick(s) and a bottom 6 Fwd. Since EDM has been brought up, I’d take Eric Belanger ($1.75M) & (a 2014-15 1st rounder?).

    If that deal happened, couldn’t the Kings keep the following roster under the cap or am I missing something (honest question)??

    Dustin Penner ($2.150m) / Jeff Carter ($5.273m) / Tyler Toffoli ($0.870m)
    Kyle Clifford ($0.975m) / Anze Kopitar ($6.800m) / Justin Williams ($3.650m)
    Dustin Brown ($3.175m) / Mike Richards ($5.750m) / Trevor Lewis ($1.000m)
    Dwight King ($0.750m) / Colin Fraser ($0.825m) / Jordan Nolan ($0.650m)
    Eric Belanger ($1.750m) /

    Drew Doughty ($7.000m) / Jake Muzzin ($0.800m)
    Robyn Regehr ($3.000m) / Slava Voynov ($5.000m)
    Matt Greene ($2.950m) / Alec Martinez ($0.825m)
    Willie Mitchell ($3.500m) / Keaton Ellerby ($0.735m)

    Jonathan Quick ($5.800m)
    Chad Johnson ($0.750m)

    SALARY CAP: $64,300,000; CAP PAYROLL: $63,977,727; BONUSES: $135,000
    CAP SPACE (23-man roster): $457,273

    Obviously, I’m assuming a lot from Penner, but I’m (maybe naively) optimistic he’d take a hometown discount to let Casey Ryback enjoy that beautiful South Bay coastline for another year or two. Other than #25, packaging Stoll w/ Bernier allowed for the re-signing of 13, 22, 71, 27, 6, 5 and most importantly 26 at higher AAV’s.

    For what it’s worth, I agree with the Mayor’s assumption that a team like NYI will price the Kings out of re-signing Scuderi.

    • June 15, 2013 at 12:51 PM

      There’s nothing wrong with the roster you laid out, given the choices you made. I think where Scuderi ends up will have everything to do with his priorities. Does he want to finish his career with the Islanders? Maybe he does. Who knows.

      • Doughty99
        June 15, 2013 at 2:17 PM

        Re: Scuderi

        LA may be his 1st choice right now (saw a Scudz quote from The Mayor implying as much), but it’ll be interesting to see if that changes should LA offer him $10.2M (3 yrs @ 3.4M) & NYI offers him $16M (4yrs @ $4M).

        Personally, I’d love LA to part ways with Ellerby. That said, it wouldn’t be the worst thing if he was making $735k for the next 2 years to watch games from the press box as our 7th or 8th Dman. Rather him than one of the D prospects who could gain valuable exp. playing every game in Manch.

        I wonder whether incl. Stoll increases Bernier’s trade value at all. We’ve seen Mac show complete disregard for taking on Kings’ salaries before. Hopefully DL can convince him to add a veteran C to his young squad. At around $2M AAV, I think Penner has as much upside as any LW UFA.

  4. m_and_m
    June 16, 2013 at 9:12 AM

    One more factor to consider. Just saw a post at LAKI that the Kings may sign Bud Holloway from Sweden. I’ll figure out how this changes the mix just as soon as I’m over my hangover.

    • June 16, 2013 at 8:40 PM

      Looks like he’s been scoring at slightly better than 1 point/game in Sweden. So I assume he’d be expected to add some offense at relatively low cost — never a bad thing.

      • June 16, 2013 at 8:48 PM

        I just looked at that article again. Wow — Holloway led the Swedish Elite League is scoring? Did Kopitar even do that when he played in the SEL?

  5. Isaak Koenka
    June 24, 2013 at 5:30 AM

    Here it is guys: Why we can’t keep ‘em Penner is gone. Scuds is most likely gone, and Clifford will have his rights traded to Vancouver for Torts new team. I think they are calling them tentatively: The B.C. Bloody Knuckles. read here: http://www.rantsports.com/nhl/2013/06/23/los-angeles-kings-rumors-kyle-clifford-dustin-penner-ready-to-leave-l-a/

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