Why the Kings can’t bring everybody back – simplistic overview

Kings Cap Issues 2013 MayorsManor
Unless you were a math major in college, the NHL salary cap likely bores you once the conversation gets past a certain surface level. So, with that in mind, we’ll try to keep this light and breezy.

Putting it as simple as possible, the LA Kings are screwed.

Essentially, compiling a 23-man roster and staying within next season’s $64.3 million cap is, as GM Dean Lombardi referred to the other day, a little bit like a nuclear science equation.

But, let’s break things down and make it digestible.

Lombardi has eight Restricted Free Agents (RFA) to deal with:

Forwards – Kyle Clifford, Trevor Lewis, Jordan Nolan
Defenseman – Keaton Ellerby, Alec Martinez, Jake Muzzin, Slava Voynov
Goaltender – Jonathan Bernier

Completing a line-up card using only guys under contract would give you something like this (ignore any debate about line combinations for the moment):

Dustin Brown – Anze Kopitar – Justin Williams
Mike Richards – Jeff Carter – Tyler Toffoli
Dwight King – Jarret Stoll – [open, LW3]
[open, LW4] – Colin Fraser – [open, RW4]

Robyn Regehr – Drew Doughty
[open, D3] – [open, D4]
[open, D5] – Matt Greene

Jonathan Quick
[open G2]

Three healthy scratches

That’s a total of 13 players under contract, totaling $49,093,000.

Now, add in Willie Mitchell’s $3,500,000 contract to put the team at $52,593,000 and 14 players.

So, Lombardi and crew would need to sign nine guys to get to a 23-man roster and have $11,707,000 to work with.

Again, staying at a high-level, 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. But, let’s assume Lewis and Muzzin are given their qualified amount (which is a slight bump from what they were paid during the 2013 season) and Clifford re-signs for his same salary – which was already above the amount needed to qualify him.

Adding those three players to our totals, we’re now at 17 players and just under $9.5M left to spend.

Next, let’s assume Bernier is traded and his replacement will cost you $1.5M for next season.

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.

The 19 signed players would look as follows:

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

Robyn Regehr – Drew Doughty
Willie Mitchell – [open, D4]
Jake Muzzin – Matt Greene

Jonathan Quick
Signed Back-up Goalie

Three healthy scratches

Next…

Everybody knows that ‘open D4′ spot is reserved for Voynov. But, hold that thought for just a minute.

Assume that Brad Richardson (UFA) isn’t re-signed.

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.

So, if you set aside an average of $800k each to pay those two and one forward (for line-up card purposes only, these are the three players identified as ‘healthy scratches’), the Kings would have a 22-man roster, plus $4.965M left to pay Voynov.

Assuming they pay him around $4M per year, that leaves Lombardi just below $1M under the cap.

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 Clifford – Colin Fraser – Jordan Nolan

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

Jonathan Quick
Signed Back-up Goalie

Three healthy scratches would come from a group that includes Ellerby, Martinez and a forward TBD.

What happened to Penner? There’s no money left to pay him.

What happened to Scuderi? There’s no money left to pay him.

If you don’t like either of those points, there’s very little wiggle room using the above line-up. For example, if you want to assume Ellerby or Martinez don’t come back, you’re really only going to save a few hundred thousand per player – because even an inexpensive replacement is going to cost around $575K.

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.

But, the Kings may be at that fork-in-the-road sooner rather than later.

If Voyonov wants more money next season, the Kings just don’t have it right now.

So, where do they go next?  I discussed a few ideas here.

Also, for a little more insight on the subject from Lombardi and Scuderi check out the links below.

RELATED CONTENT:

Sunday media call – Lombardi on future contracts for Voynov and/or Scuderi

Darryl Sutter’s end of season comments on the Kings, and a look to next year

End of season comments from Rob Scuderi – now what?

End of season thoughts from Kings captain Dustin Brown

Sunday media call – Lombardi’s latest update on the status of Willie Mitchell’s future

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Comments

  1. FKA PakiFro says:

    If revenues blow expectations out of the water, would the Cap be the higher of 50/50 split and 64.3 million, or is it 64.3 million no matter what?

    • John Hoven says:

      The cap for the 2013-14 season is set, it was part of the CBA deal coming out of the lockout.

  2. chriscap says:

    Not realistic. Ellbery and Nolan are gone, so is martinez. Mitchell goes LTIR and we get that back.

    • John Hoven says:

      Think you’re missing the bigger point. Even assuming what you said is true – Ellerby, Nolan and Martinez don’t return – how much money are you really saving?

      Answer… Less than $1M because you still need to replace all three spots on the 23-man roster.

      • chriscap says:

        Alright. I feel like this is possible…but Mitchell has to be LTIR. If he is healthy…yes, scuderi OR penner is gone. Once we get halfway through the season, we can extend brown.

        http://www.capgeek.com/cap-calculator/roster/20394

        • John Hoven says:

          First of all, you can extend Brown right away because his cap number doesn’t change next season – regardless of when he signs a new deal. That’s for 2014-15.

          However, that’s not the problem with your thinking.

          See the last line on the capgeek page you submitted:

          “CAP SPACE (19-man roster): $1,762,273″

          You need to get to a 23-man roster. So, you only have $1.77M to sign four more players. Most prospects in Manchester are going to eat that money up before you come close. For example, Pearson is at $925K. You can’t multiply that by four and stay under the cap.

          Even if you include Jordan Nolan – who has one of the lowest cap hits you’ll find ($577K), the math just doesn’t work.

          This is a more realistic look at things:

          http://www.capgeek.com/cap-calculator/roster/20409

          As noted on the roster at that link, there’s no money left for Scuderi unless the Kings make a trade or Mitchell goes on LTIR. The $724K total that’s left over simply provides a little cushion to spread over the Clifford/Lewis/Muzzin/Extra D-man/Back-up Goalie/Voynov contract assumptions.

          • Joshuah Brown says:

            I’ll throw my hat in the ring. Mine takes into consideration the purported deal that would send Bernier to Philly for Matt Read. I also factored in a Williams trade, possibly a package of him and Martinez’ rights, to get a second round plus ancillary pick/picks. Unfortunately, in my opinion, Williams becomes the odd man out strictly because he has good value and a manageable cap hit, making him easy to trade. I think you would get more assets coming back for Brown, but I agree with you Mayor, you do not trade your captain if you want to maintain any credibility in the franchise.

  3. a few things….

    1- i know you said “pay no attention to lines” but i am just overly curious why you slated carter at center and not richards? just an honest mistake or is there something you’re not telling us?

    2- i fear that your estimates for voynov may be actually under what he wants (or can get). a young puck-moving forward that’s also very good in the defensive zone just doesn’t come around all that often. and he got prime exposure this year in the playoffs. especially since he was the only king who could actually score in the postseason.

    3- once upon a time you said (as unpopular as it may sound) you though richards could be a target for a buyout. do you still think that?

    good write up, mayor. while all the numbers may or may not play out this way — it’s good for people to get an idea of reality. the other thing this article doesn’t even scratch the surface of is the next 2 years where even bigger players will need to be resigned. like it or not – guys like ellerby, nolan & martinez are the future.

    • John Hoven says:

      1 – The way I typed it up is the way they played earlier this season (Richards-Carter-Toffoli). There has also been talk of moving Toffoli to left wing. Regardless of where you stand on that debate, you’re still looking at a line of the same three guys.

      2 – Voynov is probably going to get between $3.5 and 5M. The Kings have roughly that amount available right now. If it’s going to take more than that, it further pushes the point that somebody will need to be traded to free up money.

      3 – The Kings’ front office loves Richards. A buyout is highly unlikely for that reason. However, if you look at the dollars and cents of things, that’s the buyout that makes the most sense for cap relief. That said, if you see the cap problem as a one year issue, then a buyout isn’t as appealing. The thing to keep in mind though is even if they make it through this year, Brown’s contract will be going up in 2014-15 and so will Greene’s (or their replacements if you tend to think along those lines).

      IMO – Ellerby stays at least another year. Martinez is TBD. And Nolan comes back for the reason stated in the article.

  4. Tina Corpus says:

    It is a no-win situation. I would love to keep Scuderi and Penner but it looks like that will not happen. I don’t envy those making these decisions! Voynov MUST stay! How many other good teams are dealing with the same salary cap puzzle?

  5. Neil Shafton says:

    Mitchell on LTIR does what? Takes him 3.5 off the books temporarily?

    Ellerby/Martinez no offer sheet. Nolan gets a min but plays in Manchester.

    Dwight King let him play in Manchester also, let Pearson come up, if someone wants to pick King up off re-entry waivers great, Pearson can’t be any worse than King at this point.

    Bernier gets dealt for a player(s) or prospects/picks but a roster player minimum, someone who can help offensively.

    There are some teams which can use Bernier, not sure of the money but Clarkson in NJ made close to what Penner is making and they are going to need a goalie sooner than later. Also think Pittsburgh is also in need of a goalie and if they re-sign Dupuis maybe the Kings can send Bernier there for Dupuis or prospects.

    Clifford needs to stay, just too many roles he fills and won’t cost a huge amount. Same goes for Lewis an as far as Fraser Lewis is a natural center if necessary or they decided to give Pearson/Vey/Toffoli a chance to play for a few games to see how they do.

    A veteran backup will be needed unless they think Berube/Jones would benefit by sitting on the bench watching Quick, which I doubt they really want to do.

    Really tough decisions to be made for sure!

  6. BobKnob2point0 says:

    Pearson will probably end up playing LW somewhere. Also, perhaps we could ship out Stoll (and bring up Vey) to make room for Penner.

    Do you know if teams are allowed to be over the cap during the summer?

    • John Hoven says:

      Tanner Pearson’s cap hit is $925,000 next season if on the NHL roster. That doesn’t help much from a cap perspective (remember, I put $800K in the above article for the ‘other’ forward).

      And as I’ve stated previously, I do see him in LA next season. If not to start the season, then at least on a few call-ups (ala Toffoli this year).

      Finally, yes – you can be over the cap during the summer.

    • Lyon Reese says:

      Take one look at what loosing Stoll in the face off circle did to our entire game in the series against the Sharks, and I don’t see how you justify loosing him when his paycheck is so reasonable.

  7. So basically they signed Regher knowing that it likely means Scuds is gone…which was a mistake in my view.

    • John Hoven says:

      The easiest way to look at the Regehr contract is this…

      The Kings likely wanted to bring back two of the three – Scuderi, Mitchell and Regehr.

      Even if that was the preferred order, once they couldn’t get Scuderi signed to an extension (either because of Scuderi’s asking price or the uncertainty of Voynov’s deal)….and when it really began to look like Mitchell may have to retire…they were better off signing Regehr, to guarantee they’d get at least one guy back…. meaning, better to get one guy for sure, rather than gamble and go 0-for-3.

  8. Good last point about Reg and not gambling in losing all 3 SAH dmen. I think if they end up filling the LW void via a piece from JoBern, Pens is gone. Without thinking where he would fit in terms of cap space (I don’t even know his cap hit), my off the wall prediction for JoBern is NYI with Okposo coming here. They need a long term solution in net and they have a surplus of offense. Just a thought.

  9. Mayor, I know you had this debate on the AKM podcast with The Royal and Jesse.

    Is it realistic to think that Voynov could or would even take a smaller contract next year, a bridge deal a la PK Subban, especially given that teams like Philly would likely sign him to an enormous offer sheet AND his agent can use the Traktor deal as leverage?

    Is it realistic to think that Scuderi might be willing to take a hometown discount this year and have his salary boosted next year?

    If we pretend for a moment that Williams is traded (per your projection) and Penner and Richardson leave — that now frees up roughly $8MM in cap space — can we realistically suggest that Tanner Pearson take Penner’s spot? (I know Lombardi is reluctant to call the kids up before he feels they’re ready, but given the cap screwing teams over, Lombardi has no choice but to dismantle key pieces of the team he worked so hard and so carefully to build. The kids are cheap replacements and you could end up scrimping a million or so out of their combined salaries, right?) Adding Pearson is $925K (let’s call it a million for simplicity’s sake) so now you’re left with roughly $7MM in cap space. Should that be divied up between Voynov and Scuderi so that they’d stay (theoretically) and get their big pay day?

    I’ve seen projections say Voynov could be worth as much as $6MM. Do you think Lombardi would ever pay Voynov that much? He’s already got one pricey puck mover (albeit, he’s a franchise kid). Is it worth it with Voynov’s skill to pay him that much?

    Hypothetically, let’s say Scuderi is willing to drink Dean’s Kool-Aide and take a hometown discount. Do you re-sign him anyways and wait til the fall to see if Mitchell is healthy enough to play then trade a contract player (like Williams to use your example) or do you bank on Mitchie being healthy enough to come back and roll with the kids?

    • John Hoven says:

      Some of your math is a little fuzzy there. So, let me answer this way:

      (a) Go to capgeek.com and use the calculator. It looks like what a lot of you are forgetting about is the need to field a 23-man roster. So, plug in your 23 assumptions and then we can talk more specifics.

      (b) The notion of a home-town discount now with a higher payout in year two isn’t really possible. Cap hits are the average value of the contract (total money divided by number of years).

      (c) Voynov could certainly demand $6M – from his agent or via an offer sheet. So, yes, the Kings could be adding that to their books as early as next season. Which, as stated, would require a trade of at least one player to make room for that contract.

      (d) Agree that if Scuderi is willing to sign up for another year or two at roughly $3.5M, it’s very likely you do the deal now and figure out who to trade later this summer. Not ideal, but the Mitchell situation make take several months to reach a conclusion, one way or the other.

      Start with point (a), that’s the key to getting your arms around this mess.

      • Yeah, I think I overestimated Williams’ and Richardson’s cap hits.

        OK, so I’ve re-calculated the math.

        http://www.capgeek.com/cap-calculator/roster/20426

        Do you think this roster is at all realistic?

        I know Scuderi isn’t taking much of a raise and Slava is getting the minimum projected, but it was the only way I could see to make Scuderi fit with Mitchell.

        I made another projection without Mitchell and obviously his $3.5MM contract could go a long way.

        http://www.capgeek.com/cap-calculator/roster/20428

        It’s just so hard to predict if Mitchell will be ready or not… He looks fine now, but we won’t know until the fall. And what happens if gets hurt? Then what?

  10. I’ve heard mixed responses, but is the cap going down just temporary for next season? I thought it goes back up the following season. If so, will we see a lot of back loaded deals this off season?

    • John Hoven says:

      The cap is expected to go up in 2014-15 – perhaps as much $6 or 8 million. However, you can’t ‘backload’ deals from a cap perspective. Again, some of you are confusing actual money paid to a player and the salary cap implications.

      For the salary cap, you take the total value of a contract and divide it by the number of years. If a player is to be paid $4M in the first year and $6M in the second year of a two-year deal, his cap hit is $5M each season.

  11. Troy_Ice says:

    Well, the simple answer may be to deal Voynov. If you think whatever we get in return + the difference in salaries between Voynov and his replacement +AMart, Muzzin or even Ellerby makes you better off. That might get you something as high as the Oilers #7 pick, so its worth considering. It also probably lets you resign Scuderi.

    • At this point in time, a puck moving defenseman is FAR more valuable than a homer. No offense to Scuds who is amazing, but Voynov is worth more, especially given that he’s 23 and he’s yet to reach his prime

      • Troy_Ice says:

        Well, I think you make a good point: he is valuable to this team given who else is on it, and his trajectory given his youth is terrific. But he alone seems to help solve the salary issue *and* get value back for the player, rather than just losing a free agent and creating multiple holes in the roster of a contending team. If we dont deal him, we can’t afford to replace any of our main free agents with comparable players or to upgrade them. Without Voynov, if you don’t resign Scuds you can take that money and get a Bickell or some other guy who slots in to the top 6 to replace Penner. This arguably makes our team better than it was this year given we should see improvement from some of our young defensemen. So we take that money and sign someone good, and we use him to get a high pick. If we get a high pick in return, in what appears to be a great draft, in 2-3 years (or sooner) we may well end up with a player who is even more valuable. It also creates space to give AMart a long look in that role, with plenty of protection if it doesn’t work out. In short it opens up a lot more possibilities (e.g., package him and Bernier for a pick that gets us an impact guy who plays sooner?)

        Also consider that we not only need to resign people to fill our roster, but ideally need to leave some space to make an acquisition in case of injury or need as we approach the playoffs.

  12. Troy – Trade Voynov?!?! Dude have you watched the playoffs at all even a little bit? Or even the regular season for that matter? Wow you are crazy. The whole point of all of this is that the assumption is Slava’s value is so great that giving up multiple pieces is for sure worth it. I say Slava gets a deal similar to the one NSH just gave Josi $4mil annually over 7. Just hope he doesn’t get Russian syndrome after seeing the Malkin deal and aim for more. Trade Voynov…..just……wow

  13. Bryan C says:

    No, you don’t deal Voynov. If you must lose him, you do it via offer sheet and get the massive (I assume it’s the same in the new cba) compensation from the offering team. If over $5m then it’s a 1st,2nd,and 3rd. Over $6.5m, add another 1st. If you are Dean, you have to look at (a) which teams have their OWN picks left and (b) who has the cap room. I haven’t done so, so I can’t say if that’s a long list or not. But are the Kings going to get a realistic return that is cap-friendly and equitable in terms of compensation. Lombardi has proven to be smart on draft day. I’d roll the dice with a MQO to Voynov and risk an offer sheet to buy some time to figure it out, rather than trade him away.

    • Troy_Ice says:

      I agree with the offer sheet-if you can get that kind of deal. But, if you can deal him and become more confident you are getting an elite player by drafting near the top of the draft, that probably makes more sense than getting some picks in the middle or end of the round. I thought I read that the pics compensation has changed. If I recall correctly he would probably net a 1st and a 3rd. There are other good RFA defensemen you could go after instead at those prices (I think) which makes it less likely we get that kind of return for him (St Louis has a couple of good RFAs IIRC). As you note, the key question is, which picks would they be?

      Also, would it be in the upcoming draft? (For some reason, I didnt think so). If not, those picks may not be nearly as good since I dont think it is expected to be nearly as deep.

  14. This Voynov issue reminds me of another Russian Kings defensemen…Zhitnik went from untouchable to Buffalo at the trade deadline post Cup run season. Bad move.

    Keep Voynov. Sign him now. Extend Brown. Give Bernie a chance to be a #1 somewhere, he deserves it. Then pray Kings fans. Pray.

  15. Kingfish says:

    Good breakdown Mayor. My take on it is this, I would prefer Mitchell over Scuds (mitchell is one of the best D in the league and a huge reason for our cup) However, Mitchell is a gamble. He could come back then throw out the knee. If I had to choose between a taped up mitchell or an Iron man like Scuds, I take Scuds. They can get Scuds a little cheaper cap hit if they offer him more term. Give him the term, he’s gonna play at least another 4 yrs, he’s in great shape and rarely injured. I don’t agree with the Regehr signing at all (would prefer Micthell and Scuds) but I get DL’s gamble there. Also he spent two 2nds to get him which understandably he doesn’t want to waste.

  16. Nick in 318 says:

    Replace King with……..ANDY ANDREOFF !!!

  17. I know this may be a jerk move, but WM only has a year and health and longevity are a concern.
    I say Amesty WM, give Scuds the deal he needs to keep him.

    Yes it sucks, but it is whats best for the team.
    I am not sure WM can handle much more Kings hockey.

    • John Hoven says:

      Can’t buy Willie Mitchell out as long as he’s injured. So, the options are either play, trade or long-term IR.

  18. I’m impressed with John Hoven’s article and most of the responses. I’m glad I’m not Dean Lombardi.

    Untouchable for me is a player mentioned above as potential trade bait: Slava Voynov. Dean, don’t listen! LOL.

  19. Where is your 1.5million player you got from the Bernier trade???…..lol Ridiculous article.

    • John Hoven says:

      Not sure what your question means exactly. So, I’ll answer it two ways…

      (a) The assumption above was that Bernier was traded away, with NO MENTION of what they’d get in return. It simply states that Quick’s back-up next year will cost $1.5M. That salary is included above and labeled ‘Signed Back-Up Goalie.’

      (b) If Bernier is traded for a ROSTER player, that guy needs to be added into the above equations and actually makes things more difficult. Thus, again, it’s not very likely Lombardi can bring everybody back.

  20. I think I understand the numbers as best as a non-playing fan can understand them, but they sure don’t make me happy. I have, above all, this gut feeling that dumping Penner and Scuderi would be a huge mistake in the big picture. Regehr isn’t really necessary, Penner fills the desperately needed left wing position well, and I feel that Mitchell is going to be a real liability despite what seems to be an iron-clad contract.

  21. Penner Already Sold his House, and I’m willing to bet a healthy Regher will perform better than sly but completely “wussified” Scuds.

    Not only that, but Scuderi won the cup for the Pens with his ability to control the puck and dictate the play out of the zone. He won with the Kings with Drew Doughty (Brad Doty) Doing a lot of the grunt work and breakouts with his main objective to break up plays with a poke check. He never takes the body, but I will admit his timing and his hand to eye coordination are impressive. The kings don’t need him.

    As for Pancakes, Aside from winning another Stanley Cup, I’m not sure he’ll be in the league too much longer anyway, so he may take a drastic pay cut, and we may end up with a very expensive AHL player in someone like Richardson signing and then staying in Manchester all year, or until injury/trade etc. Someone like Kozun, Cliche, or a few other prospects could stay up as scratches. It isn’t like Sutter couldn’t scratch Penner many times in the last couple seasons despite his salary, so the reverse seems to follow that he would be willing to play an underpaid, hardworking youngster (Probably like how he feels about Richardson now).

    Lastly, Lombardi knows that before the draft, for his players to have value, they either have to be signed or the team has to be willing to accept less than that player is worth, i.e. Clifford. I’ve heard lots and lots of rumor about a few trades happening on or the day before the draft. So many teams are bidding for Bernier that is makes the most sense to sign more than will fit the cap, and even pay the penalty in order to get the best deal for Bernier (and whoever else goes with him).

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