Back in February, we took a look at the LA Kings salary cap situation and they had about $8M in potential cushion to work with, as they looked ahead to the 2022-23 season. A few things have changed since then, most notably:
– Dustin Brown retired, thus removing the need to insert a contract extension
– RFA Blake Lizotte signed a two-year contract extension (we penciled him in at $1.5M, he signed for $1.675M)
– LA’s 2021-22 cap penalty has been calculated; they’ll be working with $637K less than the upper cap limit
– Carl Grundstrom, once thought to be questionable for a return, has earned a return spot on the roster
– Lias Andersson is now believed to be moving on. He could be offered a new deal (or even qualified, as an RFA). However, the path for him to earn an NHL roster spot coming out of camp isn’t very clear.
With that in mind, let’s take an updated look at where things stand…
Some of this should be reviewed with additional context:
– The line combinations and defensive pairings are for illustrative purposes only. However, the intent is to directionally look at what this collection of 23 players would total via the salary cap.
– Player contracts highlighted in yellow (i.e. Kempe) are for current RFA/UFAs. These estimates are based on current info, and will change in the months ahead.
– At forward, the assumption is Andreas Athanasiou will not be returning next season. For that to change, he would need a contract and a roster spot (meaning a one-for-one swap out with a player listed above).
– There is no guarantee 26-year-old Brendan Lemieux will be back. When first acquired in March 2021, he was thought to be a short-term bridge player. Six months ago, we wouldn’t have expected him to return for 2022-23. Perhaps he’s earned another look, though. Currently a Restricted Free Agent, his last contract (originally signed while he was a member of the NY Rangers) came with a $1.55M AAV.
– Defensively speaking, Alex Edler and Olli Maataa are also not expected back. However, either could become option B should the trade/free agent market not yield what GM Rob Blake is looking for. Again, for either player to return, they would require a contract and roster spot (which impacts the salary cap puzzle pieces illustrated above).
– Jaret Anderson-Dolan will no longer be waiver exempt next season. Thus, it’s either NHL, trade him this summer, or risk losing him to waivers if they try sending him to the AHL at any point, starting in September. We have penciled in on the opening night roster.
– Prospects like Alex Turcotte and Samuel Fagemo can continue to play in the AHL for another season without the risk of waivers. Hence, they aren’t included in the current roster projection. Obviously, this could change should a trade create roster openings and/or they play their way into a spot during training camp that forces the team to keep them in the NHL. Partial list of other prospects who are exempt from waivers next season: Arthur Kaliyev, Quinton Byfield, Rasmus Kupari, Sammy Fagemo, Akil Thomas, Toby Bjornfot, Jordan Spence, and Helge Grans.
— Gabe Vilardi will enter the conversation at some point, as well. We currently don’t have him penciled onto the roster, yet he will be out of waivers. This could be an issue that needs to be addressed over the summer (i.e. create a roster spot or trade him).
LA Kings offseason plans:
— Add a goal scoring winger
— Add some toughness
— Add a power play
— The Mayor | John Hoven (@mayorNHL) May 15, 2022
Blake all but confirmed these three priorities during his end of season press conference (see here).
There could be a myriad of ways to address some of this. Plus, you also have the potential idea of adding a left shot defenseman. This is an idea we explored in detail via a recent article:
Like any trade, three of the key elements are acquisition cost, salary cap implications, and roster spot impact.
Given that we already looked at the potential acquisition cost in the aforementioned article, let’s touch on the other two. Finding a roster spot could be as easy as not promoting Brandt Clarke to the NHL next season (he is eligible to play another year in the OHL, but can’t be sent to the AHL) or finding a way to trade Sean Walker.
As for the salary cap, acquiring Jakob Chychrun in a deal for only prospects and draft picks would mean, his AAV of $4.6 million would be a straight subtraction from the money they currently have remaining. If the Kings were able to include an NHL player in the deal (say Walker, for example purposes), the net impact of money added to Blake’s spend would be less.
Even if the Kings opted to keep Maatta or Edler instead (and still send Clarke back to juniors), there would be a net add to the cap, as either player will end up costing more than Clarke’s AAV.
What about at forward?
On the UFA front, all the big names — including Filip Forsberg and Johnny Gaudreau — are expected to command more than $8M in AAV. So, it’s not as simple as just signing them. LA would also likely need to move out a player or two listed above as part of the ‘rough plan’ of 23 players.
Other names to keep an eye on as potential free agent or trade targets include: Nikita Zadorov, Kevin Fiala, Nic Deslauriers, and Mark Scheifele.
We took a much deeper look at the salary cap via the article below.
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