Tag:Kings
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: November 4, 2010 8:35 pm
Edited on: November 4, 2010 8:35 pm
 

Brayden Schenn: Destined for the "Dub"

The next game Brayden Schenn plays for the Los Angeles Kings will be his ninth. Significant because that is the last game he can play this year before Kings management needs to decide whether to return him to his junior club or have this season count as the first against his entry level contract (ELC).

Earlier in the week, Kings’ management stated that they did not know what they would do and they would meet once he played his ninth game. They said all the nice standard comments, such as, “we’re going to keep our best players.” I’m sure they will, however, in this cap era, it isn’t just your best players, it’s your best players at prices that make sense.

The money is what I believe will drive their decision, and I believe the decision will be to send him back to Brandon, his junior club. Is it because that is the best place for him to develop? No. The best place for him is the AHL, but thanks to the rule governing CHL rights, that isn’t an option for Schenn. The reason he will be back in Brandon is money. His ELC calls for a cap hit of over $3 million thanks to his high draft position and unfortunately the ten or so minutes a night he is playing on the fourth line does not justify that large of a cap hit. Additionally, it does not make good fiscal sense to blow the first year of his ELC on fourth line duty. The Kings are better served waiting a year until he can take the place of Michal Handzus, who’s contract, and $4 million cap hit, is up after this season.

Follow me on Twitter: @Ed_Welsh

Category: NHL
Posted on: October 21, 2010 9:38 pm
Edited on: November 5, 2010 3:30 pm
 

The NHL-CHL agreement needs to be revisited.

For those who do not know, the CHL (Canadian Hockey League) is an umbrella organization that encompasses all three major junior hockey leagues (OHL, WHL, and QMJHL). Those leagues supply the league with many of the young players that are drafted each year in the NHL entry draft. 

In order for a player to be eligible to be drafted, he must turn 18 years old by September 15th of the year. Because the date falls during the year, you have players that are draft eligible for the first time with two different birth years. For instance, this year’s first overall pick, Taylor Hall, was born on November 14, 1991. The second overall pick, Tyler Seguin, was born January 31, 1992. 

Once a player has been drafted, he must either make the NHL roster or be returned to the junior club that owns his rights. My problem with the rule is that this is the case unless the player turns 20 years old by December 31st. Now, if Hall and Seguin did not make their respective club’s roster, they both would need to go back to junior for this season, but because of the different birth years, next season, Hall would be eligible to play minor pro while Seguin would still need to be sent back to junior.

Now, the CHL defends the rule stating that they need to protect the quality of the product on the ice. But as a developmental league, shouldn’t the primary function be the development of young players? I want to discuss two players from the 2009 draft class that in their second season after begin drafted, have no ability to play minor pro. Their respective teams decided to handle each player differently, but I believe in both cases, a disservice is being done to their personal development as hockey players.

The first player is Brayden Schenn of the Los Angeles Kings. Schenn was the fifth overall pick in the 2009 draft and considered a high end prospect. He impressed the Kings last year enough that they almost kept him on the roster, but instead sent him back to his junior team, where he dominated. Again this season, he had a strong camp. However, the Kings are very deep at center and there isn’t a lot of ice time to go around for a rookie like Schenn. He has already dominated the junior leagues and has nothing to learn there except bad habits. So, rather than have Schenn bored with the lack of competition in junior hockey, they are keeping him with the big club playing fourth line minutes. This is a player that would be best served in the AHL playing on the first or second line playing key minutes and continuing his development.

The second player is Jared Cowen off the Ottawa Senators. Cowen was a highly rated defenseman that suffered a severe knee injury his draft year and saw his stock slip a little, getting drafted ninth overall. Coming off that injury, Ottawa sent him back to his junior team for the season after his draft year, wanting him to get a year to recover from the injury. Now, this season was a whole different situation. Cowen had a terrific camp and had many people wondering if he would make the team. At the end of the day, the signing of Sergei Gonchar and the remaining veterans on the team made keeping Cowen unrealistic. With no option to send him the the AHL so he could take the next step in his development, the Senators were forced to send him back to his junior club, where he will be just a year older and more mature, playing against the same competition as last year.

Playing minor pro hockey would be the most effective way for these players to continue their development as hockey players, but the CHL’s rule has both players in less than ideal situations. The NHL should really consider pressuring the CHL to change this rule to force players to honor their junior eligibility for only the first season after they are drafted. There have been too many players ready for minor pro in their second season that have been forced to either play 10 minutes a game in the NHL or be bored in juniors. Let’s act in the best interest of these young players rather than selfishly keep these players in junior well after they have outgrown that setting.

Follow me on Twitter: @Ed_Welsh

 
 
 
 
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