The Kings are trying to work their way out of salary cap purgatory, largely due to pricey, lengthy contracts with two forwards that no longer produce much – Marian Gaborik and Dustin Brown. Unfortunately for Los Angeles, Vegas won’t select either without costly strings attached, thereby upping their $6.98M in cap space, but there’s no reason to protect them.
With these two exposed the forward pool gets shallower, making the eight skaters/one goalie protection scheme feasible. They’ll protect team captain Anze Kopitar who has a no movement clause on his $10M yearly contract, as well as leading scorer Jeff Carter.
Tanner Pearson is an underrated scorer and difference-maker who just signed a four-year $15M deal. He’ll stay. Tyler Toffoli just inked a three-year extension at $4.6M annually and at 25-years-old had a near 60-point campaign in 2015-16. With his knee injury on the mend he’s a present and future Kings cog.
While they each contribute various complimentary positives Trevor Lewis, Kyle Clifford, Nic Dowd, Jordan Nolan, and RFAs Andy Andreoff and Nick Shore could all be exposed without risking much. Lewis might be the most desirable here, particularly with a history of clutch postseason goals, but at age 30 we’ve likely seen his ceiling and, coming off a career second-best 24-point campaign, it’s not that high.
Dowd (27) and Shore (24) are relatively young and may develop further, but there are better players on the blue line to protect instead.
It seems a fourth Kings’ defenseman is more valuable than perhaps Lewis, Dowd, and Shore so they may opt for the eight skater/one goalie plan.
Derek Forbort and Brayden McNabb are left. I’d venture they protect Forbort’s $650,000 cap hit over McNabb’s $1.7M, valuing both over their fifth, sixth and seventh-best forwards. In addition to playing in all 82 games last season Forbert led LA blueliners in hits, finished just behind Martinez in blocked shots with 157 and contributed 18 points in 20:06 average TOI.
There’s no doubt LA mainstay Jonathan Quick will be protected. He was solid after a late season return from injury, approaching his goals against average (2.26) and save percentage (.917) from the previous two years. The Kings will expose Jeff Zatkoff and Jack Campbell.
Predicted protected players with annual cap hits
Jeff Carter – $5,272,727 through 2022
Anze Kopitar (NMC) – $10M through 2024
Tanner Pearson – $3.75M through 2021
Tyler Toffoli – $4.6M through 2020
Drew Doughty – $7M though 2019
Derek Forbort – $650,000 through 2018
Alec Martinez – $4M through 2021
Jake Muzzin – $4M through 2020
Jonathan Quick – $5.8M through 2023
Top two options on who they would most likely lose.
Shore and McNabb.
If Los Angeles were to make a trade with Vegas to select/not select a player, who would it be and why?
Rumors have it there could be a deal in place for Brown. He’ll be 33 as next season begins and is signed until he’s 38. With five years remaining at an annual $5.875M cap hit, his departure would open more financial and roster possibilities. Last year he registered his best scoring totals since he signed – 36 points, after three consecutive years registering under 30.
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