Last month, we brought you part-one of what will most likely be a summer-long process of re-evaluating where the LA Kings stand relative to the 2017-18 salary cap. New GM Rob Blake has plenty of work ahead of him, as he works to re-tool his roster and the fly and put the Kings back in championship contention. Several updates have taken place since that article, including new contracts for Tyler Toffoli and Tanner Pearson, along with confirmation of a $75M salary cap ceiling. Then, this morning, we published a report regarding who the team is expected to lose in the Expansion Draft.
Sources lead us to believe LA Kings will be losing defenseman Brayden McNabb to Vegas Golden Knights in #NHLExpansionDraft
— The Mayor John Hoven (@mayorNHL) June 21, 2017
Given all of the above information, let’s take an updated look over the Kings current cap situation:
The above 23-man roster would come at a price tag of $69.3M (including the $1.57M penalty the Kings are paying next season for terminating Mike Richards’ contract and the $833K cap penalty for buying out Matt Greene). At a cap ceiling of $75M, that would leave Blake about $5.7M to play with for roster upgrades.
– Yes, the above numbers in red are estimated amounts for new contracts that will be needed in the weeks ahead. They are conservative estimates, as none of those players will likely receive more money.
– Marian Gaborik is a bit of a wild card in all of this. He is injured, so he can’t be bought out. Which means either a trade (and that would most certainly have to include the Kings sending a prospect/pick in the deal to sweeten things) or LTIR, which comes with its own set of problems once he is finally healthy enough to play. Said differently, that is only a temporary solution.
– If you’re looking to upgrade at forward or on defense using internal candidates, it comes in the form of prospects. Most likely, Justin Auger and Michael Mersch (both forwards) and Kurtis MacDermid (defenseman) are the trio who could/should push hard for jobs during training camp. On the plus side, none of them expected to carry a cap hit north of $1M. Conversely, none of them have NHL experience to speak of and, realistically, how many youngsters can the Kings effectively have on their roster? More likely, if any of the three make the team, that probably means they pushed some combination of Shore, Andreoff, and/or Nolan off the NHL roster. From a cap perspective, that would essentially be a wash, as the dollars would pretty much cancel each other out.
– More on the Reign trio: Auger, Mersch, and MacDermid all require waivers next season. Thus, if they don’t secure an NHL roster spot, the Kings will risk losing them to another team when they attempt to send them back to Ontario.
How do we see this all playing out?
Begin with the assumption of placing Gaborik on LTIR to create some cap space (this move comes with some risk, as the Kings will still need to potentially deal with another round cap gymnastics if-and-when he returns, but he is too much of an unknown quantity at this point and the team needs a top line player for opening night). Then, things will likely shake out something like this:
Our projected roster comes at cap cost just shy of $66M, so Blake and Company would have more than $9M to go out and get a legit winger to play with Kopitar. And, of equal importance, the Kings are able to keep intact a defensive core that was one of the best in the league during the 2016-17 campaign. Some of the money might also be used to upgrade the backup goaltender position. We just believe that is a much lower priority at the moment.
LA Kings 2017-18 Salary Cap Crunch: Summer Work Underway
LA Kings 2017 Mid-Season Prospect Rankings: Top Two Players Revealed
Problem Identified: What the LA Kings Have Been Missing for Three Years
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I see Brodzinski having a good year in 2017/18. He isn’t afraid of shooting from anywhere to create havoc. I wanted Kempe to come in and light up the lamp but he was a bit disappointing. I know the skill level is there, but his youth and toughness might hold him back until he has another year or two in the bigs. In Mersch, the Kings have a Charlie Simmer/Dustin Penner type player who gets in front of the net. Plenty of others have posted about his skating ability and hopefully he’s working on that. This is probably his last shot of making the Kings roster before being moved. Auger and MacDermid are mysteries to me as I’ve never seen them play. With Ladue and Gravel having NHL experience, I don’t see MacDermid making the squad. Auger is a big dude who might make Mersch expendable.
I’m ok with the Kings staying big. The thing that we’re missing is the great outlet passes that made the SC Cup teams champions.
Remember the 2012 Stanley Cup team. Watch the handshakes after they beat the Devils, the Kings looked like giants compared to the puny Devils. Yeah… I know the NHL has morphed into a speed league. That’s OK, speed can be slowed (Remember 2014 blazing fast Rangers getting whipped by our big boys!)
Anyway… like always #GKG
So who or what would we have to give up to move Brown (can’t move Gabby if he is hurt) is giving up a 1st round pick with enough? Dean left us in a mess
John Hoven says
The Kings do not want to move Brown.