With Trevor Lewis and Jordan Nolan both signed, Kyle Clifford is the lone remaining unsigned RFA. Including Clifford, the Kings have 25 NHL players — 14 forwards, 9 defensemen, 2 goalies — and are $751,000 over the cap. Lombardi has until the day before the regular season starts to shave that amount (as teams are allowed a 10% summer overage), which will actually be a little more once Clifford signs (assuming he signs before he is traded) — and trim down to the regular season roster maximum of 23.
Here are the 25 names:
|Left Wing||Center||Right Wing||Left Defense||Right Defense||Goaltender|
|Marian Gaborik||Anze Kopitar||Jeff Carter||Jake Muzzin||Drew Doughty||Jonathan Quick|
|Dwight King||Mike Richards||Dustin Brown||Robyn Regehr||Slava Voynov||Martin Jones|
|Kyle Clifford||Jarret Stoll||Justin Williams||Willie Mitchell||Matt Greene|
|Tanner Pearson||Trevor Lewis||Tyler Toffoli||Alec Martinez|
Undoubtedly, everyone is going to be crunching numbers now to see if Clifford is affordable at whatever imagined price. The bottom line for me is this: the Kings have to ditch two players to get to 23 (the roster limit), and those two salaries will add up to somewhere between $1-1.5 million minimum, and might be enough to sign Clifford, if that’s what Lombardi wants to do. (Clifford’s qualifying offer — $870K, I believe, but don’t quote me — is already figured into my cap calculation when I say the Kings are $751K over the cap — so you can add that to the $1-1.5 million saved by dropping the two other players…).
Much depends on the health of Willie Mitchell. Because if he’s going to start the season on LTIR, that temporarily frees up his cap hit (as long as he remains injured). But if he’s healthy, the budget is tight.
As I think I said a couple of weeks ago, the fates of Mitchell, Schultz and Ellerby are intertwined. Healthy Mitchell means one of the other two gets waived or dealt. As for Martinez and Muzzin, I think they both stay, at least until it’s clear that Muzzin won’t be taking a step back, or that Martinez’s sophomore slump is or isn’t representative of his real NHL self.
The fates of Clifford, Nolan and Daniel Carcillo appear to be similarly linked. Tyler Toffoli could start the season in Manchester, but that strikes me as weird and unlikely, given his recent trajectory.
Under normal circumstances, 14 forwards, 7 defensemen and 2 goalies would be expected. With Mitchell still a question, I think 13/8/2 is more likely. If I had to guess, I would say that Lombardi will go into training camp with the nine defensemen, and see (1) how Mitchell is, and (2) which of Schultz and Ellerby is the better option to help out if Mitchell can’t go.
And if the Kings end up going into opening night with eight defensemen instead of seven, I hope the forward Lombardi moves, to make room for that, is Carcillo.
But that’s a hope, not a prediction. I don’t have a prediction. Because I don’t know what Clifford is asking for. If it’s more than, say, $1.5 million, I would expect Lombardi to Patrick O’Sullivan him and stick Carcillo in his place.[When this post originally appeared, I had the Kings’ overage at $63K; the figure has been corrected to $751K. See comments.]