Although this should hardly need a preface, we’ll provide one anyway. We are more concerned about the well-being of all parties involved in today’s events than we are about the sport of hockey at the moment. Naturally, we wish nothing but the best outcome for all involved – and that means their health and safety comes miles before any hockey issues. Life outside the rink is far more important than what happens on it. As in the past, we’re also not here to discuss matters of a legal nature. We’ll leave that to the courts, the attorneys, the police, etc.
With all of that said, the stark reality is there is still a business aspect to today’s story. Specifically, the Kings are set to host the Sabres on Thursday night. Thus, many of you have been asking what type of defense coach Darryl Sutter will be left to suit up when Buffalo comes to town.
Jake Muzzin’s injury situation plays a major factor in all of this. As of now, the Kings have five healthy defensemen available for Thursday’s game (Drew Doughty, Matt Greene, Alec Martinez, Brayden McNabb, and Robyn Regehr).
According to the CBA, suspended players count against the salary cap. Per capgeek, the Kings currently have less than $500K in available salary to work with. That means they can’t simply call a player up from Manchester to replace Slava Voynov’s spot on the roster. For example, Jeff Schultz makes $850K per year. Yes, a team’s available cap space goes up every day, but the Kings number won’t grow that much for quite some time. It was originally estimated at the beginning of the season that they wouldn’t have the cap room for a call up until around November 10. A more cost effective option at that point would be somebody like Vincent LoVerde, who only brings a cap hit of $550K… Or Colin Miller at $595K. Still, that’s not possible at the moment.
GM Dean Lombardi and Executive VP Jeff Solomon have pulled rabbits out of their collective hats on numerous occasions, and they may surprise everybody with another sleight of hand this time around. However, until such a solution emerges, here is a look at the four most likely scenarios the Kings are dealing with:
(a) Muzzin could be available and return to the line-up on Thursday. He’s expected to see the doctor soon and getting his clearance to play would be the best possible outcome, from a roster perspective.
(b) If Muzzin isn’t available, the likelihood of the Kings playing with five defensemen would have to be incredibly small. They would be much more likely to play short a forward, rather than short a defenseman. Thus, to keep a full roster of 12 forwards and six defensemen, Trevor Lewis – who is currently on IR, which doesn’t provide any sort of cap relief – could be moved to Long Term Injured Reserve (which requires him to miss a minimum of 10 games or 24 days), which would push his salary off the books and free up some money to call up a defenseman. Instead of Lewis, Muzzin or Marian Gaborik could also go on LTIR in this scenario.
(c) A player, most likely a bottom-six forward, could be traded to get a defenseman on the roster. Said forward could either fetch a defenseman in return or if it was for a draft pick (more likely), a defenseman could then be called up from Manchester.
(d) Tanner Pearson or Tyler Toffoli could be sent back to Manchester without going through waivers. We don’t see that as a longterm solution, and will remove it from the equation.
Either a trade or the Lewis move to LTIR (freeing $1.5M), when combined with the $492K already available would give them the freedom needed to call up whichever defender they prefer.
That brings up a whole other discussion about which player is the best fit, but we’ll park that topic for now. If you’re interested in reading more about what’s available in Manchester click here for an article we wrote a few weeks ago.
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