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Analyzing the LA Kings’ Salary Cap Options Part 1: Free Agents

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This year’s class of free agents offer speed, goals, and intrigue. But can the Kings afford any of them?

Dallas Stars v Los Angeles Kings Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

The Los Angeles Kings already got their big unrestricted free agent signing over with on draft day, a little earlier than usual when they won the Ilya Kovalchuk sweepstakes. According to CapFriendly, the team now sits at 20 rostered players with about $3 million left in cap space to sign the three restricted free agents to whom they extended qualifying offers: Paul LaDue, Alex Lintuniemi, and Kurtis MacDermid. Considering that a team can carry 23 players max, this shouldn’t be much of an issue, though who actually ends up making the official roster come opening night remains to be seen.

However, it’s possible the Kings aren’t done and may see what’s on the market. Let’s take a look at their hypothetical options for this season.

Per CapFriendly, there are nearly 300 UFAs this season. The biggest prize that everyone is gunning for is John Tavares. While it would’ve been tempting to try and sign him, he never would’ve fit with the Kings’ needs and plans. Instead, they signed Kovalchuk to a much more cap-friendly deal (relatively speaking). Joe Thornton is another fun name on the list, but he’s made it clear he wants to stay with the San Jose Sharks. And the likelihood that he’d ever come down south seems fairly remote. (There’s nothing concrete to support that, just a feeling.) Plus, he’d cost way too much.

One intriguing name on the list is winger Anthony Duclair. He could be an interesting get for the Kings if they decide to take a chance on him. He’s had kind of an up-and-down career so far, having a breakout season with the Arizona Coyotes in 2015-16 with 20 goals in 81 games. He struggled the next year with only 5 goals in 58 games and only marginally improved this past season with 9 goals in 33 games before being flipped to the Chicago Blackhawks. He didn’t fare very well there, either, scoring only two goals in 23 games before his season was ended early due to injury. For playing on some not great teams, he’s had some okay possession numbers with some very generous zone starts.

Anthony Duclair Possession Stats

Season Team Position GP TOI G A P P1 P/60 CF CA C+/- CF% Rel CF% iCF iCF/60 iSh% PDO ZSR TOI% TOI% QoT CF% QoT TOI% QoC CF% QoC
Season Team Position GP TOI G A P P1 P/60 CF CA C+/- CF% Rel CF% iCF iCF/60 iSh% PDO ZSR TOI% TOI% QoT CF% QoT TOI% QoC CF% QoC
14-15 NYR L 18 188.45 1 5 6 5 1.91 162 153 9 51.43 0.55 31 9.87 6.25 106.59 60.64 22.31 28.71 49.63 28.39 49.77
15-16 ARI L 81 914.2 12 19 31 22 2.03 849 861 -12 49.65 4.02 127 8.34 17.39 104.33 60.79 24.57 29.77 45.71 28.91 50.05
16-17 ARI L 58 680.33 5 8 13 11 1.15 619 713 -94 46.47 1.6 115 10.14 8.2 100.98 56.63 24.04 29.29 44.98 28.81 49.99
17-18 ARI/ CHI L 56 622.8 7 10 17 14 1.64 649 636 13 50.51 1.99 124 11.95 9.86 99.17 53.12 22.84 29.64 50.09 28.98 49.99

He had a great World Junior Championships back in 2014, winning gold with Team Canada, raising his stock quite high. Duclair has speed to burn, which makes him seem promising, but he often lacks the hands/finish. He could be a cheap reclamation project for a team willing to take a chance on him or he could end up as another Trevor Lewis or Adrian Kempe type (fast but no finish). If Duclair is willing to sign an inexpensive contract, this could be a low-risk, high reward type situation. Worst case scenario, Ontario gets another winger who excels at the lower level but can’t quite make it in the NHL.

Along the same vein, Tobias Rieder would’ve been an interesting experiment to continue if the Kings had chosen to extend him an qualifying offer, which, curiously, they did not. He could still be a good pick up for any team looking for a young(ish) depth forward with good speed and the occasional hands. Wait, I’m starting to sense a pattern here. Hm.

If nothing else, this sets up 2019 quite nicely with a lot of options available to the team.

LA Kings Salary Cap

FORWARDS (8 - $39,347,727) TERMS POS AGE 2019-20 2020-21 2021-22 2022-23 2023-24 2024-25
FORWARDS (8 - $39,347,727) TERMS POS AGE 2019-20 2020-21 2021-22 2022-23 2023-24 2024-25
Kopitar, Anze "C" NMC C 30 $10,000,000 $10,000,000 $10,000,000 $10,000,000 $10,000,000 UFA
Kovalchuk, Ilya 35+ RW 35 $6,250,000 $6,250,000 UFA
Brown, Dustin M-NTC RW, LW 33 $5,875,000 $5,875,000 $5,875,000 UFA
Carter, Jeff "A" C, RW 33 $5,272,727 $5,272,727 $5,272,727 UFA
Toffoli, Tyler RW, LW 26 $4,600,000 UFA
Pearson, Tanner LW 25 $3,750,000 $3,750,000 UFA
Lewis, Trevor C, RW, LW 31 $2,000,000 UFA
Thompson, Nate M-NTC C 33 UFA
Clifford, Kyle LW 27 $1,600,000 UFA
Rempal, Sheldon ELC LW, RW 22 RFA
Iafallo, Alex ELC LW, C 24 RFA
Kempe, Adrian ELC C, LW 21 RFA
DEFENSE (4 - $15,775,000) TERMS POS AGE 2019-20 2020-21 2021-22 2022-23 2023-24 2024-25
Doughty, Drew "A" RD 28 UFA
Phaneuf, Dion RSM-NTCNMC LD 33 $5,250,000 $5,250,000 UFA
Martinez, Alec RD 30 $4,000,000 $4,000,000 UFA
Muzzin, Jake LD 29 $4,000,000 UFA
Forbort, Derek LD 26 $2,525,000 UFA
Brickley, Daniel ELC LD 23 RFA
GOALTENDERS (2 - $6,475,000) TERMS POS AGE 2019-20 2020-21 2021-22 2022-23 2023-24 2024-25
Quick, Jonathan G 32 $5,800,000 $5,800,000 $5,800,000 $5,800,000 UFA
Campbell, Jack G 26 $675,000 UFA
RECAPTURE PENALTY (1) 2019-20 2020-21 2021-22 2022-23 2023-24 2024-25
Richards, Mike $1,320,000
GRAND TOTAL $62,242,754
Current Cap $79.5M
2019 Roster 5 Defensemen 8 forwards 2 goalies 13 skaters

Notable names who will need new contracts include Alex Iafallo, Adrian Kempe, and Daniel Brickley. With approximately $17 million in available cap space, there should be plenty of room to re-sign Drew Doughty (say $10 or $11 million AAV) as well give significant raises to Iafallo and Kempe. But that leaves a thought-provoking strategy for Rob Blake and Mike Futa: Assuming a relatively flat cap, how much do they hold back to re-sign Jake Muzzin and Derek Forbort? (If they should even be re-signed at all?) Sure, that’s another problem for another day but it all factors in to who they sign and for how much.

For better or worse, the Kings’ roster is fairly well set for the next two seasons, even with their impending free agents. The only question seems to be “how much” they’re going to offer all of their RFAs. Granted, this only takes into account which players are available as UFAs. There are some different possibilities with trades, which will we’ll look at in part two.