Posted on: November 18, 2010 3:13 pm

Can the Kings afford Iginla?

There have been many rumors, none substantiated, about a potential trade between the Kings and Flames involving Jarome Iginla. The main player coming back to the Flames is rumored to be prospect Brayden Schenn. While acquiring Iginla would seem like a good addition with the Kings poised to win now, what would the impact be to their ability to sustain success long term? 

The first question around an acquisition of Iginla is his play thus far in 2010-11. With only 3 goals and 7 assists through the first 17 games this year, he is on pace for the worst goal scoring year of his career and second worst point total. Additionally, his -7 is alarming for a player than has never been worse than a -10 in a full season. I know Calgary has struggled this season, especially with a rash of injuries, but is Iginla struggling because of the Flames or are the Flames struggling because of Iginla. Given his style of play over 14 years, one has to wonder about future returns offensively.

The second question is a financial one. With a $7 million cap hit for two more seasons after this one, what does acquiring Iginla do to the Kings’ cap situation? This year is no problem. With Schenn’s $3.14 million cap hit, the Kings are about $6 million under the cap; absorbing Iginla’s contract this season presents no challenge. Next year is a whole different story, however. With key RFA’s Simmonds, Doughty, and Jack Johnson due for substantial raises and UFA’s to be Handzus, Williams, Ponikarovsky, Richardson, and Lewis, the Kings might struggle to get under the cap with Iginla in place of Schenn.

Before they resign any of these players mentioned, the Kings have 15 players (8 forwards, 5 defensemen, and 2 goaltenders) signed at a cap hit of $43.537 million. Assuming a 5% increase over the current $59.4 million cap, that would leave the Kings with $18.833 million to spend on filling out their roster with 8 additional skaters, or roughly $2.35 million per player. On the surface, this appears to be plenty, but let’s look closer.

Drew Doughty will command a large contract; most likely in the Duncan Keith range of $5.5 million. Jack Johnson will also command a nice salary, at least the $3.5 million per year the Blackhawks gave Hjalmarsson. Simmonds is a little more difficult to project given the disparity in contract extensions to forwards last year. My best assumption currently would be in the $2.5 million ballpark. With these 3 key RFAs resigned, the Kings would be left with $7.333 million to spend on the remaining 5 players, roughly $1.47 million per player.

Given these numbers and his games played this season, I would expect Loktionov to make the team outright next season. If this is the case, his very palatable cap hit of $817K would be very welcome leaving the Kings to sign only 4 players with $6.516 million to do it. Given the total dollars to work with, the Kings would only be able to afford one of Williams, Handzus, or Ponikarovsky. My assumption is they would go try and resign Handzus, as there are no prospects ready to fill the void at center he would create. While Loktionov was drafted as a center, I don’t know if he projects as a center in the NHL. If the Kings believe he can, then maybe they let Handzus walk and sign Williams.

Overall, the idea of obtaining Iginla sounds like a good idea. Given that the team could afford to do it and still retain both Doughty and Johnson on the blueline make it seem even better. However, I still believe that this team is good enough without him and is in a much better position financially if they keep and develop Schenn. With more cap space and quality players on the roster, I believe that the Kings are better suited for long term success if they do not trade for Jarome Iginla.

Follow me on Twitter: @Ed_Welsh

Posted on: October 25, 2010 8:39 pm

Small contracts can be bad contracts, too

There has been a lot of publicity about teams up against the salary cap and the large contracts that got them there. In Chicago, there was Brian Campbell and Cristobal Huet, with Huet being shipped overseas to dump his contract. Long time veteran Wade Redden is playing in the AHL with Hartford so the Rangers could clear his $6.5 million cap hit. And most recently, the Devils played with only 15 skaters thatnks in large part to the high contracts of Ilya Kovalchuk and Brian Rolston.

However, there have been a few contracts given out this season that were quite puzzling and, despite their relative low value, can be a significant contributor to a team having limited cap space with which to work.

While all the talk about the Devils player shortage earlier this year was about Kovlachuk and Rolston, I for one saw the contract that was given to Johan Hedberg this offseason as a contributing factor. While it is only for $1.5 million per season, had New Jersey signed a backup goaltender for a more appropriate price, they would have been able to afford calling up a player or two to help alleviate their roster shortage. I am not saying that Johan Hedberg is not good enough to earn $1.5 million, rather, the backup to Marty Brodeur, a 70 game per season goaltender, should not be one of the highest paid backups in the league. Of the 61 goaltenders on starting day rosters, Hedberg makes more money than 29 of them. For a position that will most likely play less than 20 games, that is way too much.

Another contract that was significantly too much money for the player acquired was the deal given to Derek Boogaard by the Rangers. Boogaard is nothing more than an enforcer, yet the average value of his contract is $1.825 million per season. This is three times as much money as was given to Raitis Ivanans, another enforcer that fulfills the same role for his club, the Calgary Flames. Most enforcers make between $600 and $800 thousand per season. That extra million dollars per season could be used much more wisely somewhere else on the roster, although the Rangers have never proven themselves as shrewd cap managers.

These are only tow of quite a few deals that, while smaller in value, can contribute to a team’s inability to field the best team possible in this new cap era of hockey.

Follow me on Twitter: @Ed_Welsh

Posted on: October 23, 2010 8:06 am

Where did you go, Jay-Bo?

It was big news this offseason when Mike Peca criticized Jay Bouwmeester and said he was easy to play against. It wasn’t a huge surprise as the knock against Bouwmeester was that he never played as big as his 6’4” frame would indicate.

The surprising thing about the comment to me was that it indicated a lack of respect for Bouwmeester as a defenseman in the league. For a former player to make such a statement shows that Peca never worried about him making a difference in a game.

No matter how “soft” a player he was, at least he could be counted on for offensive contributions, averaging 14 goals and 26 assists over his last 3 seasons in Florida. However, that part of his game took a hit as well last season as he put up the 26 assists but dropped to just a meager 3 goals.

Last season’s poor performance, combined with the sharp criticism fro. Peca really put the pressure on Bouwmeester to get off to a good start this season. Unfortunately, that hasn’t happened either going scoreless in the first six games of the season finally picking up an assist against Columbus in a 6-2 rout.

What once started as a promising career has slowly deteriorated to mediocrity. With his large contract in Calgary, hopefully Bouwmeester can turn it around and find his game again, lest he succumb to the same fate as Wade Redden.

Category: NHL
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