Navigating the Salary Cap is probably one of the more important tasks for any general manager to have. Teams that can avert total cap chaos by walking the tightrope of inking players to deals that match their value (or compensate for future value without breaking the bank) remain successful. Those that don’t see struggles and front office changes.
PHR will look at every NHL team and give a thorough look at their cap situation heading into the 2017-18 season. This will focus more on those players who are integral parts of the roster versus those who may find themselves shuttling between the AHL and NHL. All cap figures are courtesy of CapFriendly.
Current Cap Hit: $68,168,560 (under the $75MM Upper Limit)
D Oscar Fantenberg (One year remaining, $925K)
This is not a very young team and the only player to have an entry-level deal is Fantenberg, who is the 25-year-old blueliner, who signed a one-year, two-way deal earlier this year. The defenseman has never played in the U.S. before, but he opened some eyes recently when he found himself on the Kings’ roster to travel to Japan for some exhibition games, suggesting he has a legitimate chance to earn a starting job on the team’s defense.
One Year Remaining, Non-Entry-Level
F Mike Cammalleri ($1MM, UFA)
F Jordan Nolan ($950K, UFA)
F Nick Shore ($925K, RFA)
D Christian Folin ($800K, UFA)
D Derek Forbort ($650K, RFA)
D Kevin Gravel ($650K, RFA)
G Darcy Kuemper ($650K, UFA)
F Nic Dowd ($640K, UFA)
Have originally started his career in L.A., Cammalleri returns to his former team after a three-year stint in New Jersey, which came after a three-year stint in Calgary and after a three-year stint in Montreal. The 35-year-old wing isn’t the same guy who put up many 20-plus goal seasons, but the hope is he can fill a back-six line for the coming season at a low price. Nolan will fight for a fourth-line role, while Gravel may also have to fight for a bottom pairing on defense, especially since he is still waiver-exempt.
Shore is one of those young players the Kings hope will have a breakout year. The 24-year-old wing has not been able to put it all together yet. He finished last year with six goals and 11 assists for 17 points, but is capable of more if he can put it all together.
Forbert played on the first line a year ago and managed to play in all 82 games. The team now hopes the 25-year-old starts to cash in on the team’s promise when they drafted him in the first round back in 2010. His defensive proficiency is designed to allow others to focus on offense more. The team also hopes Folin, signed away from Minnesota this offseason, will grab one of the last couple of defensive openings. The 26-year-old played 51 games for the Wild last season, but has had trouble getting a full-time role.
Two Years Remaining
Just as there were few key one-year deals, the same holds true at tw0-year deals. Doughty is a key piece for the Kings. The 27-year-old defenseman is a great two-way player and finished with 12 goals and 44 points, a slight down year for the defenseman. The franchise blueliner has been mentioned in trade rumors, but is staying put for now and the team hopes it can eventually lock him up long-term.
Three Years Remaining
Toffoli, the 25-year-old center, had established himself as a potential franchise player after increasing his goal totals every year, including a 31-goal performance in the 2015-16 season. However, like most Kings last year, Toffoli suffered a down year, finishing the season with 16 goals and 18 assists in 63 games and should bounce back in his fifth season with the franchise. Muzzin, a key defender, also saw his stats slip last year. After two 40-point seasons, his numbers dropped to 28 points. Lewis and Clifford are bottom line forwards who will have to fight for a chance to play on the team’s third line.
Four Or More Years Remaining
F Anze Kopitar ($10MM through 2023-24)
F Dustin Brown ($5.88MM through 2021-22)
G Jonathan Quick ($5.8MM through 2022-23)
F Jeff Carter ($5.27MM through 2021-22)
F Marian Gaborik ($4.88MM through 2020-21)
D Alec Martinez ($4MM through 2020-21)
F Tanner Pearson ($3.75MM through 2020-21)
It looks like the team invested all of their money on locking up their core players to long-term deals. However, many of those players have aged quickly and aren’t the franchise players they should be. Kopitar is still a very productive player, but should he be paid $10MM per year for the next seven years. He’s already 30, so that’s a contract that could hamper them for years. His 12 goals and 40 assists aren’t too impressive when you look at his contract. The 32-year-old Brown is in a similar situation. Despite having five years left, Brown’s game has slipped over the past few years. No longer the 20-goal scorer he was in his prime, the veteran wing actually had an improved year, putting up 14 goals and 36 points, which is the best year he’s had since 2011-12. Gaborik is entering a season in which has not been medically cleared to play yet after offseason knee surgery to correct two problems. At age 35, his time is running out, but the knee problems have forced him to miss 54 games over the past two years.
Quick is still considered a top-notch goalie, but the team lost him to injury for much of the season last year. His numbers are still good, but how long can he continue to do that with a depleted defense and an aging frontline? As for Carter, he was well worth the money the Kings spent for him. Even at age 32, Carter put up 32 goals and 34 assists for a big season. Martinez is also a defenseman who is trending in the right direction. The top-four defenseman is coming off a career-high in points with 39 and continues to improve.
Retained Salary Transactions
Still To Sign
Best Value: Doughty
Worst Value: Brown
The Kings have themselves a lot of problems as the franchise is saddled with numerous long-term deals to players who are near 30 or have already crossed over that 30-year line. With a new coach and general manger in tow, the team must figure out how they are going to add some young players to mix in with the veterans they already have who aren’t going anywhere. Perhaps a buyout or two in the future will ease the cap problems this franchise will deal with, but it may be a while before this franchise returns to its former glory.