I was just looking at San Jose's numbers.
They have a cap hit of $55.4 with seven players left to sign, to get to 23. That's simply not doable, even if they populate the rest of their team entirely with entry level prospects. With the players they have, it's reasonable to assume signing the remaining 4-7 players will take them up at least another $4MM.
Which will put them about $3MM over the cap, at minimum.
There are several possible salary dumps that would get them back under the cap. In descending order of salary: Thornton, Boyle, Marleau, Cheechoo, Michalek, Ehrhoff. (I assume Blake and Clowe, just re-signed, will not be traded.) I think it's likely that they will end up needing to dump slightly more than the salaries of the last three guys, which narrows the field down to Thornton, Boyle and Marleau. (They've been trying to trade Ehrhoff, I believe I read that somewhere, but to no avail and not as a salary dump.) My guess is they're happiest with Boyle and it's going to come down to the oft-rumored trade of one of the two big forwards. I think this because of all the talk in San Jose about this version of the Sharks not working, and the blame falling squarely on the shoulders of Thornton and Marleau. It just makes sense that they won't both be with the team next year. I don't know what DL's opinion of Thornton is.
But DL drafted Marleau.
San Jose has only three centers on its roster. Those two, and Pavelski. So they're going to be amenable to taking a center back. Or two. Which is why I think it's not crazy to imagine that the Sharks would deal Marleau to the Kings...
...for Stoll, Richardson and a pick.
I know. Stop laughing. But, really: Smyth for Quincey and Preissing??
The Sharks get two centers, one with a nice manageable contract and one who is dirt cheap, both of whom can play. And they get about $2.7MM in cap relief. The Kings get a legitimate top-six center. Whether this happens or not, it is a fact that the Sharks have to deal $3MM worth of contracts to somebody. And somebody like Stoll is about the most they can afford to take back.
I can't imagine DL isn't thinking the same thing.
[and yes, I know that Marleau has a NTC. Do I think he would waive it to come to LA and play for Lombardi? By George, yes I do! It's more likely than he would waive it to be traded to Ottawa for Dany Heatley, which is by the way a rumor making "the rounds."]
[late update: if you prefer, the whole exercise works just as well with Thornton, but you would have to throw in another piece to make the cap work for the Kings: Johnson, maybe.]
[p.s. the other ingenious thing about this move is, if the cap plummets next summer, Marleau walks: he's a UFA. Normally, that would be horrible, right? But in this case, it's leverage. It lets DL rent the asset for a year, gives him more room next summer, not less, and then if the cap doesn't drop precipitously, he can re-sign Marleau if he wants to. And Marleau will want to sign here by then, because the Kings will be better than the f'ing Sharks. You heard it here first.]
[p.p.s. I'm sorry, Sharks fans. I used to like the Sharks. But loyalty-challenged Rob Blake's ass checks and Roenick's Roenickyismnessitude(ity) forced my hand. (I know he's gone, but the stench lingers.) I rooted for you two seasons ago in the playoffs. Does that count for anything?]