LOS ANGELES — Now that the dust has settled after the Los Angeles Kings’ trade on June 23 that sent goaltender Jonathan Bernier to the Toronto Maple Leafs, in exchange for right wing Matt Frattin, goaltender Ben Scrivens, and a 2014 or 2015 second round draft pick (Toronto’s choice), it’s time to clean up the loose ends in the notebook…
After signing defenseman Slava Voynov, and now the Bernier trade, the Kings have $6.64 million in salary cap space available, but they also have nine players remaining on their National Hockey League roster with expiring contracts, including six restricted free agents, and three unrestricted free agents.
For Frozen Royalty’s analysis of what the Kings’ might do with their off-season personnel moves, see Unless Dean Lombardi’s Middle Name Is “Houdini,” 2013-14 LA Kings Will Look At Least A Bit Different.
As stated in that June 18 story, it appears even more likely that unless veteran defenseman Rob Scuderi is willing to accept a salary lower than the $3.4 million he earned this past season, he will not return to the Kings. That said, Kings President/General Manager Dean Lombardi is working on it.
“We’re going to continue to plug away on [trying to sign Scuderi],” said Lombardi. “I mean, obviously since the season ended, we’ve tried four things going at once. At least [trading Bernier] is now done, and [that] was a huge issue. We got [defenseman Slava] Voynov done, and we’ve continued to talk to Scuderi. At least, again we’ll keep trying here.”
Lombardi indicated that salary is the only thing keeping the two from coming together on a new contract.
“I think we all would love to have [Scuderi] back, but as we say, with the cap coming down, it’s all about making things fit,” Lombardi stressed. “It’s not about our desire to have the player. At least now, with [the Bernier trade] off our plate, and we know we’ve got a pretty good handle on our [salary cap] space—the other thing too, don’t forget, at least getting Frattin and Scrivens up, now we know the price. It also gives us a little more certainty on how aggressive we can be.”
“We know where we stand as far as other [roster] holes, which clearly define, in most cases, what we’re going to have left to get under the cap. So it’s probably fair to say that our first call will be back to Rob here this week.”
Penner: A Lower Priority
Unlike the situation with Scuderi, Lombardi wants veteran left wing Dustin Penner back with the Kings, but he is not in a big hurry to sign him. In fact, Lombardi said that he cannot be concerned about Penner’s market value rising after on July 5, when Penner becomes eligible for unrestricted free agency.
“I really don’t think we’re faced with that now,” Lombardi noted. “It’s all about fitting in, [under the salary cap]. So what the market says isn’t really going to drive this right now. It’s going to be about space. So, actually, I’d kind of take that out of the equation.”
“So many times it’s just what you asked. ‘What’s he worth? What’s he worth?’ It really doesn’t matter,” Lombardi added. “It’s all about fitting this in, and it is what it is. That’s just the long and short of it. If a guy’s worth X out in the marketplace, it’s not going to matter if you ain’t got the space.”
Nevertheless, Lombardi has been talking with Penner’s agent.
“Actually I had a feeling out with his agent here recently,” said Lombardi. “Again, the fact that [the Bernier deal] is done now, and we have these holes filled, we know the price, that it also helps us have a little certainty in how we approach some of these players. Like I said, it’s very difficult to try and juggle this with this cap coming down under these circumstances and our players all coming up.”
“We wouldn’t have had this problem if the cap was the same. But it is what it is. So, he’d be another one that I’ve already had a discussion with his agent. I’ve got to let the dust clear here and see what we’ve got.”
Penner earned $3.25 million this past season.
Contract Extension For Dustin Brown On The Horizon
Once the 2013-14 season begins, winger and captain Dustin Brown will enter the final year of a six-year contract that will pay him $3.5 million ($3.175 million salary cap hit). He will be eligible for unrestricted free agency on July 5, 2014.
It is highly unlikely that Brown will get anywhere close to unrestricted free agency anytime soon, not if Lombardi has anything to say about it, and he certainly does.
“As far as Brownie, once we get through this—you’re seeing that more and more now as you do in the other sports,” said Lombardi. “You see that now in baseball where more and more teams, instead of worrying about keeping space to get somebody else, you start focusing on keeping your own. So once we get through this, I think it’s safe to say that it would behoove us to start looking at [signing Brown to a contract extension] real close.”
“That’s the other thing that ties in to what we’re saying—once we get these other guys all [signed], it gives you some finality, not only this year, but also going forward,” added Lombardi. “Then you’ve got to make a projection on where the cap is going. But that’s something that we would begin to look at here as soon as we get through some of this.”
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