Earlier today, Mayor’s Manor posted an article with the details of LA’s first major off-season move of summer 2023 — a three-way trade with Columbus and Philadelphia. When all was said and done, the Kings had cleared out nearly $6M in annual cap hit.
Getting there involves a slight understanding of the CBA, along with some math. Essentially, including prospect Helge Grans in the trade did nothing for the team’s salary cap situation because he wasn’t on the NHL roster. Sending Sean Walker to Philadelphia saved LA $2.65M. Including Cal Petersen in the deal saved them another $5M. That’s a total of $7.650 in savings. However, as part of the trade package, the Kings are also retaining 30% of Ivan Provorov’s contract. So, even though he’ll be with the Blue Jackets moving forward, the Kings are picking up slightly more than $2M of his $6.75M contract for the next two seasons. When that’s factored into the equation, LA nets a total savings of $5.625M.
Had they simply opted to assign Petersen to AHL Ontario again next season (i.e. bury his contract in the minors), they would have only saved $1.15M in 2023-24, as the NHL cap hit in making that move would still be $3.85M. Thus, today’s option was a better solution.
For those thinking about a possible buyout of Petersen next season instead of this trade, that would have saved the Kings more than the $1.15M in 2024-2025… yet it would have also meant the contract was on the books through 2025-26, as buyouts get spread out at a lower rate than the current contract but over more years. In the case of Petersen, a buyout of his final year (2024-25) would have cost the Kings 2/3 of the contract over two seasons (i.e. twice the number of years remaining on the deal, which would have been one season remaining at that point). All in, putting Petersen in the AHL for 2023-24 and then buying him out next summer would have come with a $3.85M cap hit next season (a savings of $1.15M from his $5M AAV), then come with a $1M cap hit in 2024-25 (a savings of $4M off the final year of his contract), followed by a $2M cap hit in 2025-26.
Today’s deal saves them several million more this coming season and in 2024-25. Then, all contracts (including the Provorov retention) are off the books. They’re free and clear in two years.
Now, turning to what’s next…
As first reported in our article earlier today, indications are Vladislav Gavrikov and the LA Kings are putting the finishing touches on a two-year contract extension that would pay the defender about $5.85M per season.
That would be just slightly ahead of the AAV we originally projected during our Early Look salary cap article about a month ago.
Just 27 years old, the native of Yaroslavl, Russia is essentially betting on himself. With the salary cap expected to go up significantly next summer (and in the years to follow), Gavrikov will again become an unrestricted free agent in the summer of 2025. He’ll be 29 years old at that time and would still be young enough to potentially attract a max-term seven-year contract that could pay him big money.
While the term is much shorter than the Kings probably had hoped once upon a time, it still does lock up an important piece of their defensive group.
UPDATE, JUNE 7:
The #GoKingsGo signed 27 y/o pending UFA LD Gavrikov to 2 year $5.875M Cap Hit Deal.
Yr 1 $775K Salary, $5.725M Signing Bonus
Yr 2 $775K Salary, $4.475M SB
Includes full No Move Clause
— PuckPedia (@PuckPedia) June 7, 2023
After arriving in SoCal following a Trade Deadline deal with Columbus, Gavrikov played 20 regular season games for the Kings, posting 9 points (3G, 6A). This was after recording 10 points in 52 games with the Blue Jackets. Come playoff time, Gavrikov suited up in all 6 post-season games against the Oilers, averaging more than 21 minutes per night. He was also plus-5 in the playoffs, leading all Kings skaters; after finishing his 20-game regular season run in LA at plus-12 (second only to Mikey Anderson among defensemen).
At his season-ending press conference, GM Rob Blake had this to say when asked if signing Gavrikov would be the most difficult thing he’ll need to accomplish this summer:
“Cap-wise, most likely. Listen, I’d love to be able to bring that exact team that we had yesterday, with full health, and run right through the whole season. I know it’s not possible because of the cap situation, and ultimately, the amount of UFAs and signings and that. But we all understood the lefty-righty and the balance, but [it’s important to] put four real strong defenders in your group of six, to be able to combat some of the star players in this league.”
Blake later added:
“The good thing is, we got to see Gavrikov here. We saw and understood what kind of fit it was. Like I said, when you can throw out defenders like that against top players, it certainly helps your team.”
In the hours following the original deal that brought Gavrikov to the Kings, Blake shared some initial thoughts on what he liked about his then-new defenseman:
“The mold of the player; a bigger player, somebody who is very solid defensively, can play minutes, can do PK, can check top players. You talk about the West and the teams as we go forward here, they all have good players. We rely on checking, through a very structured system. I think [he comes in and gives] us some added depth.”
Signing the 6-foot-3 blueliner was of paramount importance. Although LA has improved their roster at forward through shrewd signings (Phil Danault) and trades (Keven Fiala and Viktor Arvidsson) over the past few summers, the team lacked both some size and a left shot among their defensemen. From day one, Gavrikov checked many of the boxes and was universally loved by teammates and coach Todd McLellen.
Back to the team’s exit interviews following their playoff elimination, here’s what McLellan said when Mayor’s Manor editor John Hoven asked about the possibility of re-signing Gavrikov:
“Well, since the day he arrived, he walked in the door – him and [Joonas] Koprisalo — and they fit our group. There’s always risk at acquiring players at the Deadline, where it doesn’t work simply because of that. So when they walked in, their spirit and the way they carried themselves fit our group. That was a home run right off the bat. And then his play, from the time that he put the equipment on all the way through, he adapted really quick to a different system, to new teammates. You’ve heard me talk about being in diapers. He was in diapers. He entered the league in Columbus. He hadn’t been anywhere else. It was a huge change in lifestyle change for him. But he was very, very solid all the way through to the last minute, last night. And that sounds like a player [that] coaches or a team would like to have.
“But there’s also the business aspect that he’s entitled to and that the team has to look at. So, you know, for all of these players that potentially could come back or not come back, there’s only so much of the pie that can be divvied up. And we’re rapidly becoming one of those teams that’s eating up the pie quickly. So some tough decisions may have to be made. But I’m speaking specifically about Gavi and his impact on the team. And if I just listen to my own answer, that’s the type of player you want.”
When Gavrikov was on Kings Of The Podcast, Hoven tried his best to get a new contract locked up on the spot. There were several funny stories shared, as well. Be sure to check out that interview below.
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