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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One more idea: What about Gaborik to LTIR? This might work if it could be backdated to the beginning of the season. Since he hasn’t yet played he would only have to miss a few more games and, given his high salary, he would build cap room relatively quickly that might help build space for a cheap defenseman that would last even after he returns.
Kings of Hockeywood says
Or the Voynov suspension could be over by Thursday if the decision is made before then that no charges will be pressed. This seems as likely as Muzzin being able to play in 3 days.
Theoretically, couldn’t they go with a Burns type of situation and move a Forward to the 3rd pairing for a few weeks until Muzzin is healthy? That would avoid the cap problems and they have Andreoff as a spare F. That would also give Dean and Jeff a bit of time to recover some cap, assess the marketplace without the knee jerk reaction trade and then hopefully have a better idea of Slava’s situation.
Otherwise, it’s gonna be trade situation because you are talking about AT LEAST 18 games without Slava. Typically that 6 man rotation wouldn’t play that stretch without some relief and it would force the D squad to stay healthy. The repercussions would follow into the new year and come playoff time the D squad would be totally gassed. Bring back Andrew Campbell from ARI/PDX. He’s only $550k
Goodbye back to back and dynasty.
Marc Nathan says
“Since he hasn’t played yet…” Wow, someone is watching the Kings this season 😉 LOL. Gaborik of course played the first three games of the season.
I just want to say that on some level I wonder how long the NHL can continue to keep Voynov on ice (by keeping him off ice.) While I am not suggesting this thing should be swept under the rug, I also think it’s a large leap to suspend someone who has not been proven guilty by anyone. Keeping him suspended during the gathering of facts, and evidence is a violation of certain constitutional rights, which appear to be trumped by both the collective bargaining agreement, and Bettman’s kneejerk reaction to thoughts that the media and fans might rake him over the coals the way NFL fans did with Goodall. It will suck if Voynov misses a prolonged period of time, and charges are later dropped.
My bad, total brain fart there.
If the team can’t put 20 on the bench (18 skaters; 2 goalies) aren’t they eligible for an emergency recall without cap penalty?
They have 18 skaters available, I don’t think that applies if they can sub a Forward to ride the pine down the way.
Justin Breen says
Marc I think you are off base with your statement. I think because of the NFL drama this is treated seriously, as it should. Last year domestic violence was swept under the rug (see Colorado). Domestic violence, especially in California is a serious, felony, offense. These cases are prosecuted by the District Attorney’s Office, the victim can say they don’t want to press charges and that has no bearing on the outcome. The case will most likely in my experience be pled down to a misdemeanor and probably come with probation and domestic violence classes as thus is probably his first offense. That is up to the DA’S Office and Slava though.
Jim, I’m not sure, but I think they have to play a game with 19 players dressed before they can do that.
“Goodbye back to back and dynasty.”
Really? The Kings losing one pretty good defenseman is enough for you to give up on this team?
Richard De Fino says
Just wondering if there is no charges against Voynov, dont they have a 36 hour time period to put charges on him or drop the case completely?
Perhaps you’re confused with being held for no more than 48 hours before being charged or released.
His court date is December 1st. The DA has until that morning to file charges. Investigators could also not file at that time pending further investigation and re-file the case at a date later than that if they wished, even three years later, although that would not happen.
Why can’t they just move somebody like Nolan to D as the 6th “D” for the time being? Hopefully this will be a VERY temporary situation whether it’s Voynov coming back or depending on the courts, getting released.
You don’t want Muzzin to come back too soon, so moving somebody already on the roster over for a few more games gives him a few more games to recover. Sure one of the Forwards would be playing out of position, but when you get to this level you should be able to fill in on another role.
Hopefully Muzzin is healthy for Thursday’s game, a fact that would make it something less of an emergency. Given he sounds as if he has been close, and the schedule has lots of days off right now, you have to think he will definitely be back by Sunday. Moving a forward to D doesn’t seem like much of an option since unless I’m mistaken we don’t have any with much experience. Buffalo is really awful this year, but even so, lets not underestimate how difficult it is to play defense. Unlike forward positions Defense requires more experience to play well and is less based on pure-athletic ability. This is a big part of the reason why it seems to take longer for D-men to develop and why defensemen can generally be successful later in to their careers. Do we have any sense of a timeline on Gaborik? If LTIR is retroactive then we could have him back for the game 11/8. If he is going to miss a few (3-4) more games anyway, it might not be much of a sacrifice.