Some people seem to think that Lombardi's ego is what's stopping sweet little Ilya Kovalchuk from signing with the Kings. These people are of the opinion that Lombardi should just "man up" and pay him what he wants. Because, you know, "great players get paid to be great players." Well, this is for you. (warning: math to follow)
[clarification: as you will see in the comments, some people think maybe I don't understand the difference between $10MM in salary and $10MM in cap hit. I do. This post is based on the assumption that Kovalchuk is not wavering from his demand of $10MM per year, i.e. $10MM cap hit. Some people still think I'm overpaying Moller next year, at $1.5MM. Make it $1.1MM. It doesn't matter, as you will see.]
Kings Cap Situation 2010-11
|* Brad Richardson||—||$1,800,000|
|* ufa d||—||$1,250,000|
And that's just this year. That's $4.4MM OVER THE CAP. So, pick one of Handzus, Stoll, Brown or Williams to get rid of right away, dumping him for picks, two of them if you're not comfortable spending the bonus cushion provided by Brayden Schenn's bonus (ask Stan Bowman for advice). You might be able to make it work by getting rid of Brad Richardson and one of those guys from the above list. But it would be tight.
Don't bother mentioning Smyth, because no-one is taking that cap hit. Yes, that big $6MM cap hit on a guy who is 34. It's hard to move. If you think $6MM at 34 is hard to move, try $10MM at 37.
But it gets worse. Let's look at 2011-12. Why? Because Drew Doughty, Jack Johnson, Wayne Simmonds, Jonathan Bernier and Oscar Moller are all RFA and will get new contracts.
- Doughty $6MM (I really think it might be more, but this is the smallest I think it could be)
- Johnson $3MM (he will wait longer than Doughty to sign, and this will be his break-out season)
- Simmonds $3MM (because he's worth every penny)
- Bernier $2.25MM
- Moller $1.5MM (this is a nod to the people who said I was nuts to suggest OM would get $1.8MM)
With that, here's the 2011-12 roster.
|* Brad Richardson||—||$1,800,000|
|* Trevor Lewis||—||$1,250,000|
Yes, that's right. We're nearly $6MM OVER THE CAP THE FOLLOWING YEAR. Even after dumping Handzus and Williams, who were UFA. So pick another three big players to dump, maybe only two if you're willing to eat into your bonus cushion. And remember that for each player you dump for picks, you have to replace him on the roster, so dumping a $3MM player gets you a savings of around $2.2-2.4MM. Pick three of Stoll, Brown, Simmonds, Scuderi, Johnson and Greene. Replace with minimum wagers. (Oh, right, if the cap goes up next year, you can salvage one of of those guys, probably. Woot.)
So one year after signing Kovalchuk to a cap hit of $10MM, you've dumped Stoll, Greene and Williams, maybe Richardson. Williams, I think everyone can live with (but it would be nice to be able to trade him as part of a package to get someone back -- that top 4 defenseman, for example); Stoll and Greene, that's a sacrifice that requires Schenn to be ready for second line center and Teubert or Muzzin or Campbell or someone TBD to be ready to be a shut-down guy, shot-blocking machine, humorist and leader. I will also point out that these are all Lombardi hand-picked character guys. A lot goes out the door when they leave.
Alternatively, maybe you just didn't re-sign Johnson, Simmonds and Moller. Lombardi would never consider anything that would force him to lose those guys. Seriously, who in the entire league would Lombardi be willing to trade Johnson, Simmonds and Moller for? Crosby? Ovechkin? Yeah, probably. But anyone else? No.