Here’s the first set of open forum questions and answers. Please feel free to continue asking questions under the original post. I’m trying to get through them as quickly as possible today…
David asked: I had a question Rich… This goes back to the State of the Franchise session at Hockey Fest, and the recap you provided on here. Jeff Solomon was asked about the Kings’ salary structure and you reported that he said, “When all is said and done – including potential bonuses, etc. – the Kings intend to be ‘two or three million shy of the cap’”.
What exactly does that mean? Does this apply to this season or future seasons or what? If its this season, do the Kings intend to use almost all of their, 17 or 19 million or whatever it was, cap space they had over the summer simply from the signings of Ponikarovsky, Mitchell, player bonues and whatever minor league players are added to the roster to fill it out when the season starts? Or does it mean that they are also counting potential new contract extensions signed for maybe Doughty, Johnson and/or Quick? I just find it hard to believe that without factoring in the possible extensions, how can that possibly be that all the cap space was then taken up? I’m suprised no one else questioned this statement and what it means. Thanks!!
Answer: First, I think some people tend to take these “cap space” reports as the gospel, when they are not official numbers. There are at least three of these “cap” websites that I know of, and each of them comes up with different totals for teams. I’m not knocking them, because they provide a fantastic service, but it’s not foolproof. I’m looking at one right now that has the Kings with $9 million of cap space. It also has them with 20 players on the roster, not 24 (allowing for Greene’s injury at the start of the season) and it also allows for the bonus cushion (which is allowed under the CBA, but it’s slightly dangerous to presume that bonuses will not be hit). My suggestion would be to use the raw numbers for players’ salaries, come up with your own realistic 23-man roster and see what the team’s cap number is. When I do that, I come a lot closer to $3 million of space than I do to $9 million. In terms of what Solomon said, he was speaking only about this season. Any contract extensions signed before next summer would not count on this season’s cap, so in terms of what he said at Hockey Fest, that’s only applicable to this season.
brandyn asked: Question #1: Is Scott Parse ready for the 2nd line wing ? Does have the ability to score 30 goals ? If his value increases this year do you seem him getting traded because he is much older then the kids ready to take over that spot ? Question #2:What happens with Richardson this year? It seems all these prospects are ready to fill the team and leave him out there with nowhere to go…
Answers: 1) I’d really have to have a crystal ball to answer those questions. Is he ready for the second line? I really don’t know. Lombardi doesn’t know, Murray doesn’t know and Parse probably doesn’t even know. But given what the Kings have, and what Parse showed at times last season, it’s reasonable to pencil him in at that spot and see what happens. It’s a bit ambitious to think that Parse would be a 30-goal scorer. There were only 24 guys in the league who scored 30 goals last season. If Parse were to establish himself as a legitimate scorer, I’m not sure why the Kings would trade him, or for what, given that 5-on-5 scoring is their stated weakness. 2) There will be a spot for Richardson. His success last season, and his versatility, assure him of that. I wouldn’t totally agree with the assertion that “all these prospects are ready to fill the team.” All things being equal, it’s almost always better to give a prospect another year of seasoning if there’s a veteran player who can capably do the job.
Alternate Jersey asked: I’m really interested to come see the training camp at TSC, but I have to be honest and say that I’m not really sure what each session really is. Will groups A and B ever engage in a scrimmage against each other? Can you just break down what “Goaltending Session,” “skate,” and “practice” really are? I’d love to see some of the AHL guys in actual playing mode (read: not just drills) because I don’t know when I’ll ever get to see the Monarchs play. Basically just want to figure out when the best time to come is, especially in terms of the early morning sessions!
Answer: There are no “group vs. group” scrimmages on the schedule, although I have seen them take place in the past. In general, if you’re looking for the sessions that will have the most game-like action, you should come to the “practice” session, which consists of the players doing actual drills. The goaltending session is just the goalies on the ice with the coaches, and maybe a couple skaters. The skate is simply that, a skate, for conditioning purposes. So the practice times are your best bet for seeing game-like simulations (power play, penalty kill, breakouts, maybe some 5-on-5).
Joel asked: With Dean’s latest State of the Kings forum, I found a few comments to be a bit revealing. He mentioned that he views the 4th line to be a bigger, physical line than the other 3. With those comments as well as his idea that Parse would be the 2nd line LW, where does that leave guys like Moller and Lewis? Do you believe the Kings will extend Doughty’s contract before the end of the season?
Answers: 1) If I could interpret what Lombardi said, I would say it’s more about a mindset and a style of play than height and weight. He talked about establishing an identity. You don’t necessarily have to weigh 230 pounds to play with that type of mindset (although it certainly doesn’t hurt). When you’re looking at centers, in particular, there’s not going to be a 230-pound bruiser playing center, no matter which way you cut it. So Lombardi/Murray are going to be looking for guys who have the willingness to play a hard-nosed game and not shy away from the action if the going gets tough. Lewis is a guy who can play like that. Moller? That’s tougher to say. There is a thought that Moller has to be a top-six player in order to be effective, and I don’t necessarily disagree with that.
uvgt2bkdnme asked: Despite how NHL-ready certain prospects may be, and despite how well they may show over the course of training camp, is the Kings’ coaching staff comfortable with putting a relatively large number of rookies into the lineup? Or do they intend to cap it at, let’s just say, two rookies (excluding Jonathan Bernier) who make the team out of camp for fear of having too many young and / or inexperienced players on the team overall, forward or defense?
Answer: There’s not a cap, or a specific number, but in terms of your overall point, I would say that yes, coaches/management are mindful of that. You don’t want to have a line of three rookies. You don’t want to have a defensive pair of two rookies. You don’t want to have a rookie on each of the four lines. It’s just common sense, in terms of not exposing your team to too much risk. But I don’t think there’s a cap. I don’t think you’d see the Kings in a situation where they would say, “Well, we really like Brayden Schenn, and we think he’s ready for the NHL, but we already have Hickey and Bernier on the roster…” It’s more of a feel thing.
Real 7 asked: I see Brayden Schenn been cleared to skate…. is he good to go for contact action?
Answer: There aren’t any restrictions on him that I’m aware of. I’d be pretty surprised to see him in a group if he had any limitations. It wouldn’t really make sense for him or the team. But they’re doing all the exams/testing today, so we’ll see.
Zee Khan asked: What effect mentally do you think the two rookie games might have on some of the younger guys, especially the ones who got beat up in the second game 7-1? Is that a confidence breaker for some of them? Did any of the coaches have much to say about it following the weekend?
Answer: I really, really wouldn’t read too much into the results of a rookie game in the middle of September. It’s a rookie game. It was the second game, in the afternoon, after a night game the day before. It was with an unfamiliar lineup against an unfamiliar opponent. If there are any players who suffer a confidence crisis based on that game, they’ve got some serious issues.
Mathew asked: What is going to happen to ersberg since the kings are bringin up berner cuz he did so well last season in the minors?
Answer: Your presumption is that the Kings are brining up Bernier. That’s not set in stone. Far from it. If I had to bet, I would bet that Bernier would be with the Kings, but we’re going to have to go through training camp to figure that out. If it does happen, it’s hard to imagine Ersberg going to Manchester. It’s more likely that he would go through waivers or decide to play in Europe.
LB asked: Do you get the feeling that Dean and the rest of the Kings management are now glad that they didn’t come close with Kovalchuk? Given the mess that New Jersey had to deal with. Have they made any comments about it at all? Which Kings player do you predict to have a “breakout” year? As in most improved.
Answers: 1) That’s a good question. Don’t ever expect to see any public comments along those lines, at least until many years have passed, because that’s just not something a GM would do, to come out and say, “Wow, I’m glad we didn’t get ourselves into a mess like those dummies did.” OK, maybe Brian Burke would say that… Do they think it? Probably in a way, yes, although that’s a bit like getting dumped by a girl and then saying, “I’m sure glad I’m not with her anymore.” The fact is that the Kings made a strong push for Kovalchuk and wanted him on the team. With hindsight, are they going to be glad they lost out? I think there’s a strong possibility that the answer is “yes.” 2) Hard to say, because there were so many breakouts last year. I might pick Dustin Brown under the category of “re-breakout.” He was a 30-goal scorer two years ago, and I think he can get back to that level. Jack Johnson is also a decent pick for breakout potential.
kozak asked: Does Oscar Moeller make the team this year? If so, what line? Where does Ersberg end up?
Answers: 1) I don’t know, but if I’m drawing up four potential lines right now, I’m having a hard time seeing where he fits. That’s not a knock on Moller, because I like his potential, but I’m just not seeing the fit right now. 2) I also don’t know that. It will depend entirely on performances in training camp. As I wrote above, if Ersberg gets beat out by Quick/Bernier, it’s hard to see him going back to Manchester.