Capped: The Kings’ Tarnished Gold

Chris Pudsey

2015-02-05

MikeRichards

 

The fall of Mike Richards and why the Kings aren’t as rich as they thought they were.

 

Late in January, the LA Kings placed Mike Richards on waivers, hoping and praying someone would claim him and his $5.75M cap hit for five more years after this one. I have no doubt that a few teams looked long and hard at Richards, but in the end he passed through waivers and was sent to the Kings AHL franchise in Manchester. In hindsight, Kings GM Dean Lombardi did something he rarely does; he made a serious mistake in roster management. Lombardi had the chance in the off-season to use his compliance buyout on Richards but he opted to keep his Stanley Cup winning group together. Now, with Richards cap hit still burning hot against the Kings cap while he tries to find his game in the AHL, the Kings have some even tougher decisions to make as they worry about the NHL salary cap number and where it may possibly be next year. The fluctuating Canadian dollar is going to make it almost impossible to determine next year's NHL salary cap number any time soon. This is no doubt causing Lombardi some sleepless nights right now.

 

Lombardi will get some slack cut for making that mistake; after all, his Kings have won two of the past three Stanley Cups. It's not like he's in jeopardy of losing his job or anything crazy like that. That being said, Lombardi has a big jigsaw puzzle sitting in front of him as he looks at his roster past this season. What pieces fit and what pieces do not. Yes, Richards is a piece that doesn't seem to fit but another confusing piece is Slava Voynov and his legal issues. Currently, the NHL has granted the Kings a long term injury exception, basically cap relief, for an indefinite period of time but at some point in time this will come back around. Voynov has a cap hit of $4.167M for four more years after this one. There may be a chance, should he be found guilty of his domestic violence charge, that his contract could be voided by the NHL and worst case scenario, he could even face deportation. There's no doubt the Kings would much rather have him playing then seeing that happen but considering the recent bad publicity around other high profile athletes and their domestic violence issues, this is a public relations nightmare that the Kings may well want to avoid if possible. 

 

As I type this, looking forward to the 2015/16 season, the Kings have right around $57M already spent towards next year's cap. Guys like Dustin Brown ($5.875M, seven years),