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.
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