Reports: NHLPA voting on a $75-million cap; what might that mean for the Kings? - LA Kings Insider

Reports indicate that the NHLPA is voting today on whether to execute a $2-million raise of the salary cap ceiling. The $75-million cap was first reported by James Mirtle of The Athletic ($) yesterday, with John Shannon and Pierre LeBrun reporting that the NHLPA’s Executive Board was voting on the ceiling today. Such an increase would represent an escalator near 2.5%, not the 5% escalator traditionally agreed upon by the NHLPA. The possibility of a 2.5% inflator was raised by LAKI two off-seasons ago, based on conversations with hockey operations at the time.

NHL SALARY CAP, POST-WORK STOPPAGE
2016-17: $73M
2015-16: $71.4M
2014-15: $69M
2013-14: $64.3M
2012-13: $59.9M ($70.2M pro-rated)

A $75-million cap wouldn’t necessarily be good or bad; it more or less represents the status quo. By activating a full 5% escalation of the ceiling, a disproportionate amount of the players’ salaries – reported to be 15.5% of 2016-17 paychecks – is put into escrow. It’s a tough balancing act for the players, given the rocky history of having negotiated against the owners, set amidst the greater good that a higher salary cap represents: higher salaries and more options for free agents, and more flexibility for teams.

So! The Kings. Note that these are cap hits, and not necessarily their 2017-18 salaries.

FORWARDS (roughly $40.46M)
Anze Kopitar: $10,000,000 (through 2024)
Dustin Brown: $5,875,000 (through 2022)
Jeff Carter: $5,272,727 (through 2022)
Marian Gaborik: $4,875,000 (through 2021)
Tyler Toffoli: $4,600,000 (through 2020)
Tanner Pearson: $3,750,000 (through 2021)
Trevor Lewis: $2,000,000 (through 2020)
Kyle Clifford: $1,600,000 (through 2020)
Jordan Nolan: $950,000 (through 2018)
Adrian Kempe: $894,167 (through 2019)
Nic Dowd: $640,000 (through 2018)
Andy Andreoff (RFA)
Jonny Brodzinski (RFA)
Michael Mersch (RFA)
Nick Shore (RFA)

DEFENSEMEN ($17.35M)
Drew Doughty: $7,000,000 (through 2019)
Alec Martinez: $4,000,000 (through 2021)
Jake Muzzin: $4,000,000 (through 2020)
Brayden McNabb: $1,700,000 (through 2018)
Derek Forbort: $650,000 (through 2018/RFA)
Kevin Gravel (RFA)
Paul LaDue (RFA)

GOALTENDERS ($5.8M)
Jonathan Quick: $5,800,000 (through 2023)

BUYOUT (roughly $833K)
Greene, Matt (through 2019)

RECAPTURE PENALTY ($1.32M)
Richards, Mike (through 2020)

TERMINATION PENALTY ($250K*)
Richards, Mike (through 2032*)
*the termination penalty rises to $700K in 2020-21 and $900K from 2021-23, and then falls to $700K from 2023-25, $600K from 2025-29, $500K from 2029-31 and $400K for 2031-32

As of now, based on financials provided by Cap Friendly, the Kings have allotted $66.01-million in cap space to 17 players who are currently under contract for 2017-18. That monetary figure includes the contract for Adrian Kempe, but not Jeff Zatkoff. It also includes Mike Richards’ cap recapture and termination penalties, as well as Matt Greene’s buyout. With that figure, Los Angeles has roughly $8.99-million to allot to up to between three and six players (though likely six) via extensions, trades and free agency (and the highly unlikely scenario in which a 2017 draft pick makes the opening night roster). Keep in mind that the Kings will lose a player to expansion (more on that tomorrow), so their cap space will grow, as will the likely need to fill that player’s hole on the active roster. (The word “likely” is used here because should Vegas hypothetically select Michael Mersch – which is unlikely – that wouldn’t create an additional roster spot they’d have to fill.)

With the approximate $8.99M in cap space, the Kings will also have to come to terms with restricted free agents on new contracts. Jonny Brodzinski, Andy Andreoff, Nick Shore, Kevin Gravel and Paul LaDue are a part of this group, though none, perhaps with the exception of Shore, should be expected to command seven figures. Not all of these players listed are guaranteed a spot on the team next season; simple numbers show that there are currently more RFAs who played for Los Angeles in 2016-17 than there are spots available for them. The Kings are also expected to sign and/or trade for a goaltender who will compete to back up Jonathan Quick.

Los Angeles’ unrestricted free agents are Jarome Iginla, Vincent LoVerde, Rob Scuderi, Zach Trotman, Teddy Purcell and Cameron Schilling. This is somewhat speculative, and so much of the team’s decisions will be based on an evolving landscape, but as of today I’m hesitant to think that there is a better than 50% chance that the Kings re-sign Iginla. It’s not a 0% chance, but I don’t think it’s probable at this juncture.

The Kings face a bit of a cap crunch, but they aren’t as wedged into a financial vice as tightly some teams. (Chicago, as an extreme example, has $77,520,628 invested in 22 players.) (The Blackhawks will still be very good next year.) Here’s a list of players due for unrestricted free agency. Here’s TSN’s Trade Bait List. Enjoy your Friday afternoon, Insiders.