The buyout window is open!
So after literal months of anticipation, the Los Angeles Kings finally have the opportunity to do what they probably should have done last summer: buy out center Mike Richards. Will the Kings actually do it this time around? Here's what we know.
- The Kings' preferred resolution is a trade, and it's obvious why they want one. It allows them to escape the financial consequences of a buyout. As we covered in Richards' season review, here's the hit against the Kings if they do indeed buy out Richards:
Mike Richards: Cap Hit, Post-Buyout
2015-16: $1.217 million 2020-21: $1.467 million 2016-17: $1.717 million 2021-22: $1.467 million 2017-18: $2.717 million 2022-23: $1.467 million 2018-19: $4.217 million 2023-24: $1.467 million 2019-20: $4.217 million 2024-25: $1.467 million
- The risk in trading Richards is that he retires early, causing the Kings to face a cap recapture penalty. While the team that acquires Richards would take plenty of financial responsibility for the unused years of his contract, it'd be less than they'd be paying otherwise, while the Kings would be forced to shell out as penalty for this back-diving contract they didn't even create. Whoops.
- Of course, the other condition in such a trade would be that LA would likely give up another valuable piece. The Kings refused to include the one and only Tyler Toffoli in a Phaneuf-Richards trade six months ago, and Leafs fans on Twitter are still proposing hypothetical Toffoli trades as a result. (The most recent wave involves Phil Kessel, which at least makes the deal stop being totally laughable.) More likely? The Kings give up a draft pick and/or a prospect and don't get anything of worth (or perhaps a shorter bad contract) in return.
- If LA fails to find a trade partner - and they've been trying long enough that this is very possible - you have to think they will go ahead and buy him out. LA's championship window (all this talk of windows!) is open now, and taking a hit over the next couple years that gives them room for Andrej Sekera, Tyler Toffoli, and Martin Jones (and maybe even a forward with some purple stick tape) is worth it for the long-term consequences.
- Of course, as you know by now, Dean Lombardi is all about... say it with me... loyalty. When Paul Bissonnette revealed Kevin Gravel's new deal on the radio yesterday, he also talked about how, if you win with the Kings, they'll take care of you. This means that there's always a possibility,however small, that LA spares Richards the embarrassment and gives him yet another chance to prove himself.
SO. What do you see happening over the next two weeks? Give us your two cents in the poll and the comments.