The math of keeping the team together

Dean Lombardi got a lot of praise for “bringing back everyone” from the cup-winning roster. This was never really totally true, though, since Kevin Westgarth, Simon Gagne, Andrei Loktionov and Davis Drewiske were all moved either before the lock-out-shortened 2013 season started, or before the trade deadline. And Willie Mitchell has yet to play a game since lifting the cup. In the off-season, we’ve said good-bye to Jonathan Bernier, Dustin Penner, Rob Scuderi and Brad Richardson. And Kyle Clifford, Jordan Nolan and Trevor Lewis are dangling in the balance of their RFA negotiations.

That’s eight players gone, one (Mitchell) nearly gone, and a further three (Clifford, Nolan and Lewis) at least one of which is going to be squeezed out by cap/roster concerns.

I don’t think Lombardi is worried about Jordan Nolan. But I think Clifford and Lewis he would like to bring back at the right price. What I want to know is, what happens if Clifford won’t sign for less than, say $1.5MM, and Lewis is awarded $1.5MM in arbitration? Is that unreasonable? I’m sure Lewis’s agent will be trumpeting the fact that Lewis has been cited several times as one of Darryl Sutter’s favorite players. That makes him seem kind of valuable, doesn’t it?

Can the Kings afford Clifford/Lewis at a combined $3MM?

Not with Carcillo, Ellerby and Schultz on the team. It puts them about $700,000 over the cap.

Since the Kings currently have nine defensemen signed, I assume the plan is to see if Mitchell can play, and if he can, then get rid of one of Schultz or Ellerby (alternatively, trade one of Martinez or Muzzin, but that would be sad, not to mention dumb).

So when that happens (losing one defenseman), the Kings would squeeze under the cap, signing Clifford/Lewis at $3MM combined. Obviously, if Mitchell can’t play, that frees up more cap space. But if his health is not a question, there would be no reason to bring in Schultz (and re-sign Ellerby) in the first place.

And, as far as the forwards go, Lombardi is either going to sign Nolan and let him battle it out with Carcillo for the press-box seat — or he’s going to deal Kyle Clifford. Can’t see him dealing Lewis, but it could happen, depending on the award.

Probably what’s happening is that Clifford is asking for more than $1.5MM, and Lombardi is worried arbitration could award Lewis closer to $2MM. Even a difference of $500K would mean getting rid of someone else. And who would that be? Would Lombardi demote or move both Ellerby and Schultz and rely on Mitchell not to re-injure himself? He’s certainly not going to go with 12 forwards.

Maybe Lombardi is thinking, trade Clifford and let Tanner Pearson, Andreoff, O’Neill, Shore (and maybe even Kitsyn or Prokhorkin) duke it out for a spot. Does he think Linden Vey (or Marc-Andre Cliche) is ready to replace Lewis? Doubt it.

Whatever happens, it’s going to be tight. And I bet I’m not going to like it.


  7 comments for “The math of keeping the team together

  1. Samuel Aronoff
    July 17, 2013 at 11:16 AM

    Given Muzzin’s ascension and the success 3 offensive D + 3 defensive D had in the playoffs I am not sure there is room or it makes sense to keep Muzzin and Marty. Given Muzzin’s size and upside I tend toward him as the “correct” option. I think dealing Marty makes a good deal of sense. And if you can get something for Stoll, as much as I enjoy Don Draper, I think that frees up some space in a very smart way. In the upcoming year the Kings need a healthy Kopitar more than anything and in next off-season there needs to be room for signing Brown to his last professional contract.

    • Bob Knob
      July 21, 2013 at 10:10 PM

      3 offensive D and 3 defensive D works when the offensive D are good and the defensive D are good. When they suck, not so much.

      What I’m trying to say that it’s probably not the formula that was so successful, but rather the players that made it so successful. Our top 4 was amazing in 2012, and Marty/Greene were a good 3rd pair. I don’t think plugging in an old slow tough guy with no puck skills has been proven to be better than plugging in a younger, cheaper, quicker, not as tough, better hands defenseman in his place.

      Clearly, our problem is not with our offensive D (DD is god, VV is good, Marty is vv good 3rd pair, Muzz is ok 3rd pair, better 1st pair). IMO, we should be shipping out 1 of the old slow guys (and 1 of Ellerby/Schultz) and use that 3-4MM to sign guys up front not known for their grit or facepunching ability.

  2. Token
    July 17, 2013 at 11:54 AM

    I’m not so sure about all this. Dean can go 10% over the cap in the off-season. He also can bury most of the sub $900K contracts in the minors. And the waiver risk actually helps us for the most part if he demotes Fraser, Ellerby, Schults etc. The players not from our development system.

    Cliffy is off his ELC, not arb. eligible and has zero leverage. He a roster player and Europe pays way less than NHL league minimum so no “Holloway Syndrome”. He gets signed for sure before training camp. All the trade chatter is just fluff for his agent.

    Nolan to arbitration – who cares. He wont get much and if Dean walks away, no big loss.

    Lewis is the only concern and don’t forget that Holloway has not re-upped in Sweden yet. May be a whole different kind of angle Dean is looking at.

    • Bob Knob
      July 21, 2013 at 10:13 PM

      per the mayor I don’t think Holloway can be signed anymore, some deadline has passed (either SEL or NHL I believe).

      • Bob Knob
        July 24, 2013 at 10:58 PM

        He has committed to play in the SEL apparently (now called the SHL?).

  3. USHA#17
    July 18, 2013 at 8:59 PM

    I can live with a year of rebuild and sorting if 14-15 means a (good chance to) return to the finals. Given the nature of the cap (old and new) and the roll of dice on injuries and development this seems like a necessary if not inevitable course. I look to Chicago as the model.

  4. ToughD
    July 19, 2013 at 6:19 PM

    If we lose Lewis, then I want two or three of whatever Lombardi is smoking. Don’t know a whole lot about Frattin but he is NOT gonna replace what Lewis brings to the table. Lewis is not the problem on the 3rd line. Unless a trade is in the works, why did we get Carcillo and re-sign Nolan if we can’t afford both Cliffy and Lewis? Carcillo and Nolan seem like 3rd rate players compared to Cliffy (2nd rate) and Lewis (1st rate). Lewis was the 2nd highest priority of the RFAs next to Slava.

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