After it was hinted yesterday that Marian Gaborik had undergone a medical procedure and that it would be announced that others had also undergone some repair work, the Kings announced the following medical updates on Tuesday:
Tyler Toffoli – Minor surgical procedure on his left knee. Toffoli is expected to be ready for the start of training camp.
Alec Martinez – Minor medical procedure for a chronic issue related to his groin. Martinez is expected to be ready for the start of training camp.
Derek Forbort – Minor surgical procedure on his left knee. Forbort is expected to be ready for the start of training camp.
Marian Gaborik – More in-depth medical procedure for a chronic issue related to his left knee. Gaborik is questionable for the start of training camp.
Though his procedure wasn’t announced on Tuesday, Matt Greene also underwent back surgery during the second half of the season. He traveled with the team and worked out on several late-season road trips, but there’s no sense at this point as to whether he would be available at the start of the 2017-18 season.
Gaborik’s medical procedure clearly appears to be the most serious. Given that it was deemed a “chronic issue” related to his left knee, it’s worth noting that the sprain suffered in his collision with Dominic Moore at Madison Square Garden in February, 2016 did affect his left knee. He also suffered a left knee sprain early in the 2013-14 season while with Columbus. Based on yesterday’s comments from Rob Blake, it sounded as though Gaborik, after returning from the broken foot he sustained at the World Cup, was playing through some pain throughout the 2016-17 season. The 35-year-old finished with 10 goals and 21 points in 56 games and carries a $4.875-million cap hit through 2021.Though Martinez missed nearly all of last season’s playoff series against San Jose with a groin injury, he actually had surgery to correct shoulder discomfort that had bothered him most of the season last spring. He also had minor surgery to address a finger injury after he blocked a shot during the first half of the 2014-15 season, but this appears to be the first public acknowledgement of medical procedures to correct any groin issues he has dealt with.
Forbort and Martinez were among the six Kings who appeared in all 82 games in 2016-17.
Toffoli suffered a lower-body injury during a game in Columbus on December 20 that caused him to miss 19 games, though it has not yet been confirmed that his injury was related to that hit, or whether it was the byproduct of the heavy wear-and-tear experienced over an seven-month season.
A secondary concern over Gaborik’s injury is how it affects the team’s finances heading forward. Rob Blake said Monday that the team won’t buy out his contract – injured players can’t have their contracts bought out – but there is still the Long Term Injured Reserve mechanism that could allow the club to spend over the salary cap ceiling by the amount of the the player’s cap hit subtracted by the amount of cap space available. Previously, the team has often been reluctant to talk on the record about when and how it uses LTIR, but did so last season when it recalled Rob Scuderi to bring itself close to the cap before placing a player on LTIR – later learned to most likely have been Gaborik – and then assigning Scuderi back to the AHL.
As it stands at this very moment, the Kings have $58.4-million invested in 15 players for the 2017-18 season, according to financials provided by Cap Friendly. Preliminary estimations have next season’s salary cap rising to $75.5-76M, though it’s contingent on the players choosing to exercise the 5% escalator. Hypothetically, were Gaborik to be placed on LTIR, they could regain nearly all of his $4.875M cap hit, which would give them nearly $19.48M to allot to up to nine players. Keep in mind Tanner Pearson and Tyler Toffoli are not among the 15 players with contracts for next season and require new deals, as do the less expensive Nick Shore, Andy Andreoff, Kevin Gravel, Paul LaDue, Jonny Brodzinski and Michael Mersch, among others. While this is highly speculative fallout on the heels of the Gaborik procedure, LTIR is still a scenario worth raising (and one the front office is surely considering).
Players due for restricted free agency: Tyler Toffoli, Tanner Pearson, Nick Shore, Andy Andreoff, Kevin Gravel, Paul LaDue, Jonny Brodzinski, Michael Mersch, Joel Lowry, Justin Auger, Zac Leslie, Andrew Crescenzi, Kurtis MacDermid
Players due for unrestricted free agency: Jarome Iginla, Ben Bishop, Rob Scuderi, Teddy Purcell, Zach Trotman, Vincent LoVerde, Devin Setoguchi, Cam Schilling