Kings don't fear the floor
Salary cap update: It's a tossup which team is in the worst position vis-a-vis the salary cap in the NHL, the Los Angeles Kings or the Anaheim Ducks.For a team looking to save a few bucks while the kids play and the team rebuilds, the Kings are in a beautiful position under the cap.
The Kings are $12 million below the $40-million floor and they have been non-players in the free-agent market. They do have some restricted free agents like Jarret Stoll and Patrick O'Sullivan to sign, but they might be forced to overpay just to meet the minimum.
Let's say GM Dean Lombardi truly goes for a youth movement and doesn't sign a single unrestricted free agent: Where would a 23-man roster of mainly prospects put them in relation to the cap?
With roughly $30-million already committed, you can pencil in figures for a handful of restricted free agents: veterans Stoll ($2-million) and Brad Richardson ($800,000), and prospects Matt Moulson, Peter Harrold, Erik Ersberg and Gabe Gauthier (~$750,000).
Recently drafted defencemen Tomas Hickey and Drew Doughty will also need contracts should they make the team.
In fact, considering the Kings have one of the deepest collections of prospects in the league, it wouldn't be a problem promoting from within. Five players 24-and-under had near point-a-game seasons in Manchester (AHL) last season and could all make the jump.
A projected lineup, barring future signings:
Brown - Kopitar - O'Sullivan
Frolov - Stoll - Purcell
Calder - Handzus - Richardson
Moulson - Boyle - Zeiler
Johnson - Greene
D. Gauthier - Preissing
Harrold - Doughty
A blueline to strike fear into its opposition, no doubt.
The price tag for that underfunded bunch? About $38-million, or a little less than $3-million under the salary floor.
All 30 NHL teams, as per the CBA, have to be at the $40.7-minimum by the opening of the regular season, but I can't see that being a problem here. Lombardi already added Denis Gauthier from the Flyers and his $2.1-million salary, and there are plenty of gaudy cap hits around the league that could be acquired to bump the figure up.
More likely, however, Los Angeles will add a veteran defender to help their green crew, a player that will put them up to the salary floor.
It's a non-issue. Besides, if this team can put together a surprising year under a new coach and make some gains, they'll have zillions to spend in 2009-10.
This season's going to be difficult for the Kings, but going forward there's room for optimism. There are some gems in the prospect pool:
- Teddy Purcell, 22, a gangly Newfoundlander who put up 83 points in 67 games in the AHL last season
- Brian Boyle, 23, a huge, huge centre who put up solid numbers in his first pro season. I've been keeping my eye on him for years, and he could be the biggest, strongest forward in the NHL in the future if they don't convert him to a blueliner
- Peter Harrold, 25, is a puck-moving defender with skill who saw 25 games in the NHL last season