As you probably know, each NHL team has a limit of 50 SPCs (standard player contracts) it can carry at any one time. Players under contract who are playing in Europe (e.g. Oscar Moller, starting 7/1) and players under the age of 20 still playing in juniors (e.g. Brayden Schenn this past year, Tyler Toffoli and Jordan Weal next year) do not count against the 50 contract limit.
The Kings under Lombardi have usually hung around the 45-48 contract range. They're at 45 right now. A number of things are about to (or may potentially) occur, however, to change that number.
- Four unsigned draft picks must be signed by June 1, or their rights are relinquished. They are: Nicolas Deslauriers, Linden Vey, Jean-Francois Berube and Michael Pelech.
- June 15 (or two days after the playoffs end, whichever is later) is the deadline for signing new SPCs. If a player isn't signed by now, they must wait till July 1.
- Trades? Are we really going to go without a first round pick? Lombardi has only missed Round One once in his career (2000). The draft is June 24-25.
- Qualifying offers need to be tendered for 14 RFAs by June 27th at 2pm Pacific time. They are: Drew Doughty, Wayne Simmonds, Trevor Lewis, Brad Richardson, Oscar Moller (in order to retain his rights), Alec Martinez, Marc-Andre Cliche, Rich Clune, Jeff Zatkoff, David Meckler, Andrew Campbell, Bud Holloway, Corey Elkins and Patrick Mullen. Any players not tendered qualifying offers become UFAs on 7/1.
- Michal Handzus, Alexei Ponikarovsky, Peter Harrold and John Zeiler become UFAs on 7/1.
- Two unsigned collegiate picks must be signed by August 15, or their rights are relinquished. They are: Garrett Roe and Joshua "Podge" Turnbull.
The Kings have 28 contracts that do not expire on 7/1. By my count, there are 8 players who are certain to receive contracts or qualifying offers, another 15 who are question marks, and two wild-cards who probably won't (but might) come into play. That's a total of 53 potential contracts. I assume that Lombardi will want to get down to, at most, 48, probably around 45 or 46.
The eight players I believe are certain to get contracts or qualifying offers:
- Trevor Lewis
- Brad Richardson
- Alec Martinez
- Wayne Simmonds
- Drew Doughty
- Nicolas Deslauriers [unsigned]
- J-F Berube [unsigned]
- Linden Vey [unsigned]
The 15 question marks:
- Marc-Andre Cliche
- Rich Clune
- Jeff Zatkoff
- David Meckler
- Andrew Campbell
- Bud Holloway
- Corey Elkins
- Patrick Mullen
- Michael Pelech [unsigned]
- Garrett Roe [unsigned, NCAA]
- Podge Turnbull [unsigned, NCAA]
- Peter Harrold [UFA]
- Michal Handzus [UFA]
- Alexei Ponikarovsky [UFA]
- John Zeiler [UFA]
The 2 wild-cards:
- Maxim Kitsyn [unsigned]
- Tyler Toffoli [ELC, u20]
- Kitsyn and Toffoli are extreme long-shots to make the Kings this fall. (Toffoli has a contract, but it doesn't count against the limit unless he makes the big club.) However, I don't think Lombardi will want to put himself in a position where there's self-evidently no contract room for either of them even if they play their asses off. It's fair enough to discount these two potential contracts, but then I think you have to assume Lombardi will get the count down to the 45-46 range, just so there's breathing room.
- To my untrained eye, the two most vulnerable names on the reserve list are Michael Pelech and Podge Turnbull. Pelech played last season in the ECHL. Turnbull just finished his senior year at Wisconsin.
- Subtracting Pelech and Turnbull leaves 13 names on the question-mark list. And room for 9-12.
- My guess is that Cliche, Clune, Zatkoff, Holloway and Elkins will get qualifying offers. Maybe I don't know what I'm talking about. But too bad. It's my blog post.
- That leaves 8 names, with room for 4-7. The 8 names are:
- Meckler, Campbell, Mullen (RFAs); Roe (unsigned); Handzus, Ponikarovsky, Harrold, Zeiler (UFAs).
- Roe, who has stood out to me at camps over the years, I think should be signed (so he can duke it out with short brethren Justin Azevedo and Brandon Kozun), so I'm going to call that a hunch and say he will be signed.
- Campbell: having traded Teubert, and with Gravel and Forbort a few years away, Andrew Campbell is the only big-bodied defenseman left in the system. His plus/minus jumped from -15 and -16 in his first two seasons to +12 last year. It would be weird to let the guy go after he finally has a decent season. My guess is he gets an offer.
- I'm not sure what the purpose of signing Meckler or Mullen would be. Deslauriers will be joining the Monarchs, as will Vey. There is no shortage of smallish offensive defensemen in the system, and Meckler has a number of "energy" forwards to leapfrog if he's ever going to get a call-up. So I'm going to pretend I know what I'm talking about and say they don't get qualified.
- Which makes for 43 contracts, with the UFAs to consider. Handzus, Ponikarovsky, Harrold and Zeiler.
- As I said in an earlier post, I don't see how Poni gets re-signed without moving some bodies (Parse, or somebody). But why do that? It's really not cost-effective, and this year there will be real cap concerns.
- Handzus also seems like a long-shot to me, though conventional wisdom seems to be that he will re-sign. Since that would leave no room at all for Schenn or Loktionov, I'm sticking to "I'll believe it when I see it."
- However, I think Lombardi will want at least the option to sign a cheap UFA "utility knife" or two, if not one of those guys. So we should budget for two UFA contracts.
- That brings us to 45. Which is about where I think we'll land. That way, if Lombardi wants to make a trade or two, or if there are injuries that require additional signings, or if Kitsyn or Toffoli decide to become superheroes in the fall, there will be room for that to happen.