The NHL may insist that the Los Angeles Kings were not attempting to circumvent the salary cap in their dealings with Mike Richards. However, nobody can deny that the settlement the Kings negotiated with Richards has put them in a far easier position than if they’d been forced to buy him out this past summer.
Click here for yesterday’s post on the reported details of the settlement.
The folks at General Fanager put together a handy chart comparing the two scenarios:
As you can see, the biggest cap hit in the settlement scenario comes this season. After that, it’s never higher than $1.57 million. And while the settlement scenario extends seven seasons beyond the buyout one, the dollars at the tail end are basically equivalent to one player making the league’s minimum salary. Which isn’t going to make or break any team.
In contrast, if the Kings had been forced to use the buyout route, they’d have much more near-term pressure. Anze Kopitar is a pending UFA. That’s the big one. But so are Milan Lucic and Christian Ehrhoff. Even if the Kings don’t re-sign those two, they’ll need to be replaced somehow. Oh, and Tyler Toffoli and Tanner Pearson will both need new contracts after 2016-17.
Given the above, it’s this part of the buyout that could’ve really forced the Kings into some tough decisions:
Instead, the pain has been spread out.
Again, the NHL doesn’t consider what the Kings did to be cap circumvention. And one does have to remember that Richards was arrested and charged with possession of a controlled substance at the border.
“In our view, the Kings had a ‘Bona Fide’ opportunity to win this grievance,” Daly told Sportsnet. “In that case, they would have no cap hit at all. This way, there’s some penalty.”
Still, it’s not hard to understand why some teams are “screaming bloody murder.” For the cap-crunched Kings, the settlement scenario is superior to the buyout one, no doubt about it.