Kings GM Dean Lombardi and VP Jeff Solomon have been working overtime the past week and it’s helped bring some initial clarity to the team’s salary cap situation. After the signing of forward Trevor Lewis to a four-year, $8M deal, here is how things most likely look for the 2016-17 roster (at the moment):
LA Kings 2016-17 Projected lineup
Now, remember to add in a $1.57M penalty for the termination of Mike Richards’ contract…
$68,959,393 PROJECTED TOTAL WITH PENALTY
Thus, with the salary cap having an upper limit of $73 million next season, the Kings have some – but not much – wiggle room to make upgrades. Specifically, they have a maximum of about $4M to play with at the moment.
Lombardi recently talked about wanting to go outside the organization to get some help for the backup goaltending spot. There isn’t much money available to do something like that if they plan on upgrading the offense or defense. Jack Campbell, who was acquired over the weekend, is going to need a new contract this summer. Fortunately, he’s not likely to get much of a raise from his current deal. This could put him in line to be an option over Budaj from a price standpoint. However, basing a decision today off or recent play (i.e. last season), Budaj has earned the job over Campbell. We also don’t see a long line of experienced NHL backups stepping up to take a contract as low as Budaj’s. If the Kings have to pay $800K-1.2M for a different backup, that would likely mean more than one current roster player would have to be moved first.
Looping back to our article from a few days ago, sources inside the Kings have shared with MayorsManor a plan to trade one (or possibly more) of the bottom six forwards to help shed some salary. Dwight King is at the top of the list (see here), which would clear $1.95M – pushing their available dollars up to about $6M. Without clearing more money, that would pretty much be about what they could offer somebody like Kyle Okposo (again, see here) as an potential new winger for Anze Kopitar.
There has also been some information shared with us about putting Rob Scuderi on waivers. If they do that and he doesn’t clear waivers – barring an unexpected retirement – he would be sent to the AHL. Yet, that would really only offer a few hundred thousand dollars in cap relief. Burying an NHL contract in the minors will only offer $950K in cap relief. Meaning, you can try doing this with either Scuderi or Matt Greene, and you’re really only freeing up enough cap room for somebody like Derek Forbort (or a similarly priced defenseman).
One final comment for those bemoaning the Lewis extension… it actually makes sense on multiple levels. First off, he took a steep discount to stay.
If you're looking for loyalty, believe Trevor Lewis left at least $1-2M on the table by re-signing in LA.
— The Mayor John Hoven (@mayorNHL) June 25, 2016
Also, Lewis is a proven player. He’s versatile – can play any of the three forward spots and can play up a line or two in spot duty, when needed. He also helps bring a solid defensive game to a team built on (and needing more) defense to make up for an overall lack of offense. Further, you can’t criticize Nick Shore for not scoring and simply say they should just replace that spot with a free agent making $4M. As a cap team, the Kings simply can’t afford to pay somebody $4M to be their third line center. Chew on this for a quick minute… the Kings won Cups in 2012 and 2014 with Jarret Stoll and Mike Richards largely filling that spot. How many goals did Stoll score? Nevermore than eight in either of those seasons. Richards? He scored 11 goals in 2013-14.
What’s coming next, you ask? Most likely some trades. Then a new forward for Kopitar.
THIS IS A MUST-READ: Kings Trade Predictions
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” Burying an NHL contract in the minors will only offer $950K in cap relief. ”
Worth noting though that Scuderi clearing waivers and leading to a cap savings of $950k saves most of his contract since the Kings are only on the hook for ~$1.1m as Pitt. and Chicago are picking up up most of it. And as you note he might retire, which would save even more.