For about the past month or so we’ve been reviewing the Kings salary cap situation – which, as most of you know by now, is more complicated than the planning required for a Cirque du Soleil show.
As part of the new CBA agreed to coming out of the lockout, the cap was to come down by about $6 million for the 2013-14 season. And although it’s expected to go right back up beginning the following year, that’s not really helping teams out this summer.
The most simplistic answer for the entire situation is teams lost money due to the lockout. So, there’s a one-year ‘adjustment period’ where they’re (in theory) going to recoup some of that money. Then, because the cap is tied to Hockey Related Revenue (HRR), the NHL will attempt to maximize the money flowing in over the next year – through things like the multiple outdoor games, etc. – and the cap will return to normal next summer. That’s a quick, high-level explanation.
Now, back to the current problem…
Last week we posted comments Dean Lombardi shared with MayorsManor when we asked about the ongoing negotiations with his Restricted Free Agents. Although it looked like a deal with Kyle Clifford was imminent, since then he’s inked Jake Muzzin and Alec Martinez to new two-year deals. Muzzin will receive $1M per season and Martinez will be at $1.1M.
So, updating the Kings roster and salary cap situation, Lombardi now has a total of 21 players under contract, totaling $61,332,894. That leaves $3.1M in cap space and two open roster spots (a maximum of 23).
At this point we always need to bring up the status of Willie Mitchell. While he may officially still be TBD for next season, last week Lombardi was again talking in a positive tone about his possible return. Bottom line though, he’s under contract, so we have to include him in all data below. Also, to answer the 5,000 questions we get about this everyday – the three options on Mitchell on either play him, trade him or place him on long-term injured reserve (LTIR). Essentially, you can’t buyout players on LTIR and if he’s healthy enough to play, he’s playing for the Kings.
So, a rough 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
Matt Frattin – Jarret Stoll – [open, RW3]
[open, LW4] – Colin Fraser – Dwight King
Robyn Regehr – Drew Doughty
Willie Mitchell – Slava Voynov
Jake Muzzin – Matt Greene
Three healthy scratches:
- Keaton Ellerby
- Alec Martinez
- Jeff Schultz
If you add those three to the 21 players under contract, you’d have a 24-man roster. Thus, something has to give at some point.
On the defensive side of things – where the Kings have nine players under contract – after speaking with Lombardi last week it appears he’s going to let the guys fight it out in Training Camp and go from there. At that point, he could trade somebody or even attempt to send them to Manchester – however, that would require putting them through waivers, where another team could snatch them up. Given the status of Mitchell won’t fully be known until then, Lombardi seems to be stockpiling insurance policies in the meantime.
With the forwards, at least three questions remain to be answered:
- One, how much will Clifford sign for? He had a cap hit of $870K last season.
- Two, how much will Lewis sign for? He had a cap hit of $725K last season.
- Three, will Lombardi and the Kings add a free agent player in an attempt to help the offense?
First things first, Clifford and Lewis will probably come in somewhere between $1M – $1.75 on the absolute high side. If guessing, it will probably be closer to the lower end of that scale. Only Lewis has filed for salary arbitration, something Lombardi spoke about here.
Now for the big question – adding a new player.
First off, as pointed out above, just signing the players he’s already dealing with would put Lombardi one over the roster limit of 23. However, that hasn’t stopped people from filling up message boards, twitter and facebook with the always popular – ‘What about this guy? What about that guy?’ questions.
So, here’s a quick look at the five most talked about candidates:
Damien Brunner – Has one season of NHL experience (actually 44 games). Right-handed shot, posted 12 goals during the regular season, followed by another five in the playoffs. Several teams are reported to be interested. However, the 27-year old is said to be asking for north of $3M, a turnoff for most and could be too rich for the Kings this summer.
Jaromir Jagr – The 41-year old forward had a cap hit of $4.5M last season and looks to be seeking a similar deal if he’s t0o return for another year. Left-handed shot, scored 16 goals during the regular season last year, but none in the Bruins’ playoff run. His size and style of play would fit in well with the Kings. However, again, his current asking price would be an issue.
Brenden Morrow – Speed and conditioning could be the central questions surrounding the former Stars captain. He’s a rugged, power forward, not too different from the style played by Dustin Brown and Mike Richards. Left-handed shot, natural left wing. He had 12 goals during the regular season and it was just two years ago when he put up 33 goals in Dallas. How much does he have in the tank at 34 years old after playing such a punishing style for so many years? If they can get him for one-year at $2M, it sure would be interesting to find out.
Dustin Penner – Do we even need to write anything here? If you read MayorsManor, you know all about the big guy. You take the good, you take the bad and there you have…the facts of Penner. Like Morrow, you might be looking at a one-year, $2M deal.
Mason Raymond – Known for being a two-way player, but he doesn’t fit the mold of an ‘LA King’ because he’s also not as tough as most of the guys Lombardi has assembled on his roster. That said, it’s maybe a little surprising some team hasn’t already snatched him up. If for no other reason than, like Brunner, he’s only 27 years old.
Given the Kings well-documented salary cap challenges, it’s still a bit of a stretch to think that any of these players get added at this point. However, if they were to do so, who do you prefer and why?
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