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[UPDATED] A look at the Kings' salary cap situation for 2015-2016 (part 2)

Regehr's gone. Will Richards be too? - Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports

Part 2

In part one, we looked at the players with expiring contracts in 2014-2015. Now we'll look at cap and roster scenarios for 2015-2016.

[EDITOR'S NOTE: THIS POST HAS BEEN UPDATED TO REFLECT THE ANNOUNCED SALARY CAP CEILING OF $71.4 MILLION. ENJOY!]

The list of six players with expiring pro contracts who have spent most or all of this year in Manchester are at inflection points in their careers. It's either time for them to be given a chance to play, similar to Andreoff this year, traded to a team where for prospects or picks as Linden Vey was, or released to explore other opportunities as Andrew Campbell was last year. Of particular interest are Nic Dowd and Jordan Weal, centers who have demonstrated skill at the AHL level and are candidates to play in next year's roster, particularly if pending UFA Jarret Stoll is not re-signed. Nick Shore, though on the current NHL roster, finds himself in the same situation.

Going forward, the scenarios for re-signing from the pool of four UFAs and four RFAs from the current roster mainly hinge on two contracts in question: Slava Voynov and Mike Richards. Slava Voynov, who is facing charges for domestic violence, may well find himself with a voided contract if he is convicted, wiping him from the books. Even if he enters a scenario where he may be allowed to play in the NHL again, the Kings may seek to trade him for a variety of character reasons. Whether or not he is a player another team would take on is anyone's guess, but it does not seem likely. Without a conviction, there would likely be a legal fight if the Kings made any attempt to void his contract. With his trial now delayed until July past the start date to sign UFAs, and an ACL injury that would likely keep him out past the start of the season, the Kings will likely have to act as if he is never coming back.

Mike Richards is a different situation. He has struggled to live up to his 2C expectations for most of his time as a King, and last summer was the last opportunity for Dean Lombardi to buy out his contract with no further cap penalty to the team. Instead, Lombardi opted to keep him, hoping he could train back to an expected competitive level. This year has been more of the same in terms of production, and this has resulted in Richards being waived and sent to the AHL with no claimers. That fact alone makes trade prospects grim without salary being retained in some deal. It's not as if he is a terrible player beyond redemption. Most of his stats suggest he is a 3C/4C, and he remains one of the top penalty killers on the Kings.

As for RFAs Toffoli and Jones, we know the Kings intend to bring them all back. Toffoli's deal taking longer than Pearson's deal did or Jones' will suggests he will be making more money or perhaps a longer term for his deal. The Kings seem mostly pleased with Shore at 4C and I think we can expect him back too. Andreoff has struggled to break into the lineup and his spot seems to be in question with Weal and Dowd knocking on the door. His raise would likely be the minimum if he is kept.

Jamie McBain is the UFA defenseman brought on to fill the hole created by Slava Voynov's indefinite suspension. Making league minimum, he has done an ok job as a bottom two defenseman. Depending on what happens with Andrej Sekera, he could be brought back for a similar deal. Jarret Stoll is a 3C who has struggled this year to produce points. He has also seen his incredible faceoff win percentage drop significantly, and he continues to take a lot of offensive zone penalties. His future with the club should be seen as in serious jeopardy unless he takes a serious pay cut. Robyn Regehr, noted possession anchor, is retiring. Congrats to him for a long career.

The two free agents that the Kings would no doubt like to retain are Justin Williams and Andrej Sekera. Williams has been instrumental to the Kings' success and continues to be a great play-driver. Negotiations stalled out around the new year, suggesting the Kings aren't willing to commit to the term, money, or both just yet, if at all. With the uncertainty of the cap next year, this is understandable. For Sekera, he was brought into the organization because of his history with people on the Kings organization, specifically director of player personnel Mike Futa and former Monarchs head coach Mike Stothers. His future with the organization would seem to depend almost entirely on the team's approach to the uncertainty of Voynov's contract. For money, Sekera is rumored to be expecting "Marc Staal money", which places his ask in the 5.5M to 6M range. It's difficult to imagine him coming back for less than 5M, even if Lombardi is willing to go max term. At 27 now, a max term contract would put him in his mid-30's, where significant play decline could be a real factor.

Without further ado, onto the scenarios!

Scenario 1: Voynov and Richards remain with club

This scenario leaves the Kings with 64.115M committed to ten forwards, six defenseman and one goalie. This means they would need to sign/call-up/trade for four forwards, one defenseman and one goalie with 7.285M in cap space to a 71.4M cap to do so for a 23 man roster.

Player Name Position Cap Hit Expiry Status
Toffoli, Tyler F 3M UFA
Shore, Nick F 1M RFA
Andreoff, Andy F 0.65M RFA
Weal, Jordan F 0.65M RFA
McBain, Jamie D 0.65M UFA
Jones, Martin G 0.75M RFA

Total cap space committed with roster additions: 6.7/7.285M

The above scenario assumes a significant raise in a bridge deal for Toffoli who has been a second line contributor to the club. These numbers are somewhat in line with other bridge deals seen recently. Jones get a raise that seems to put him in line with other "contender" teams' 2G salaries, though I wouldn't be surprised to see it push closer to 1M. Williams and Sekera are forced out due to lack of cap space.

Scenario 2: Voynov is traded or has his contract voided, Richards remains

Player Name Position Cap Hit Expiry Status
Toffoli, Tyler F 2.5M UFA
Shore, Nick F 1M RFA
Andreoff, Andy F 0.65M RFA
Weal, Jordan F 0.65M RFA
Sekera, Andrej D 5M UFA
McBain, Jamie D 0.65M UFA
Jones, Martin G 0.75M RFA

Total space committed with roster additions: 11.2M/11.452M

This scenario builds on scenario one by giving Sekera a raise to 5M, while Toffoli gets a cheaper bridge deal. Unfortunately, it only leaves about 250K in space, which is not enough to call up a minimum salary player. In this scenario, they could start with Richards in the AHL and call up another player to save a few hundred thousand so that they could call up another player in the event of an emergency.

Scenario 3: Voynov is traded or has his contract voided, Richards is traded/bought out

3a: Richards traded

Player Name Position Cap Hit Expiry Status
Williams, Justin F 4M UFA
Toffoli, Tyler F 3M UFA
Shore, Nick F 1M RFA
Andreoff, Andy F 0.65M RFA
Weal, Jordan F 0.65M RFA
Sekera, Andrej D 5M UFA
McBain, Jamie D 0.65M UFA
Jones, Martin G 0.75M RFA

Total space committed with roster additions: 15.7M/17.2M

3b: Richards bought out

*Richards hit 1.22M in 2015-2016

Total space committed with roster additions: 15.7M/15.98M

This final scenario adds Williams back into the mix easily with Richards gone from the books. If Richards is not bought out, the Kings could also afford to retain up to 25% of Richards' salary while still leaving enough space for a minimum salary player to be called up. In this scenario, the spots of Richards & Stoll being voided mean that Nick Shore gets a definite three or four slot center role, with Trevor Lewis being the other and Weal fighting for either spot. Richards' buyout price becomes more of an issue as time goes on and his cap penalty increases with no guarantee the salary cap will raise to properly offset it. Trading with a set amount retained could be the desirable option.

Closing thoughts

Of course, it is possible that the Kings go out to the market again to build up their roster in one of the above scenarios if Williams and Sekera prove too expensive - even if some more space opens up. We know that Dean likes to keep the core intact, so they were prioritized in the importance of their position. Toffoli is seen as Williams in waiting, and Sekera plays a role that no prospect is ready to fill (though hopes on Colin Miller are high as an offensive Dman). It's also important to remember that even with Richards in the AHL, it's unlikely we have a player that significantly outperforms him within the 925K cap space that we save on his absence.

As time goes on, it looks as if scenario 3b becomes more and more likely, which will give the Kings a lot of freedom before next September. Once July 1st comes, they must get to work on singing Kopitar to an extension, who shares agents with Toews and Kane, who just got 10.5 million AAV extensions in Chicago.

s/t to nhlnumbers for providing player salary information and capgeek last year for the Richards buyout calculations.

This item was written by a member of this community and not by an author of JFTC.

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