L.A. Kings place Mike Richards on waivers. Who will grab him?

Matt Larkin
Mike Richards' cap hit and term make it highly unlikely any team claims him. (Getty Images)

The defending Stanley Cup champion Los Angeles Kings fed the NHL a harsh dose of reality less than 24 hours after the league displayed its silliest side at the All-Star Game.

The Kings placed center Mike Richards on waivers Monday, per Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman. Yes, that Mike Richards, the world junior champion, the 2010 gold medallist, the two-time Stanley Cup winner. Richards had appeared in many recent trade rumors, most commonly involving Toronto’s Dion Phaneuf, but the Kings reportedly could not find a taker. It’s not exactly a shocker no team wanted to give up something to acquire Richards, 29, at a $5.75-million cap hit for five more seasons after this one. He is nowhere near the player he was as a Philadelphia Flyer, and it appears he’s even lost a step since last season. Richards has sputtered to 15 points in 47 games, he’s won fewer than half his faceoffs, and it’s fair to wonder if Kings GM Dean Lombardi regrets not using a compliance buyout on Richards this past off-season. The euphoria of a second championship in three years understandably clouded his judgment.

As per the new(ish) collective bargaining agreement, the Kings can’t fully “bury” Richards’ contract for full relief from his cap hit. If he clears waivers, they will only save $925,000. They obviously hope some team claims Richards.

The question is – does any team have the stones to blow that much cap space on Richards? Re-entry waivers no longer exist, meaning the claiming team must take on his full cap hit and term. Richards still has some value to a contending team, as he’s still a plus in the possession game and he’s a winner who elevates his game in the post-season. But that may not matter at his price.

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Time for star players to step up because NHL prepared to ditch Olympics

Ken Campbell
Sidney Crosby and Henrik Lundqvist (Photo by David E. Klutho /Sports Illustrated/Getty Images)

COLUMBUS – Now is the time for the best players in the NHL to stand up the way they do when the Stanley Cup is on the line. Because if they don’t push the issue on Olympic participation, the NHL will be more than happy to trash the entire concept.

The NHL and NHL Players’ Association announced the details of the 2016 World Cup of Hockey, which will be played in Toronto Sept. 17-Oct. 1, 2016. Both sides spoke of the event in glowing terms and there was much singing from the same songbook. That’s because both sides stand to gain a mother lode of money from a World Cup. The profits for the event are split 50-50 between the NHLPA and the league, meaning they will not be part of Hockey Related Revenues and will have no bearing on the salary cap. Each side is free to take its money and do with it whatever it wants. Read more

Steven Stamkos likely to stay in Tampa as NHL’s highest earner

Ken Campbell
Steven Stamkos (Photo by Dave Sandford/NHLI via Getty Images)

As of today, it’s looking more like Steven Stamkos is going to remain a member of the Tampa Bay Lighting for a long, long time. The only question now is whether or not he’ll sign the richest eight-year contract in NHL history this summer and become the league’s highest-paid player.

Stamkos, who has in the past been a little coy about his future with the Lightning, was a definitive as he’s ever been about his contract status. In fact, he set off something of a social media firestorm this summer when he retweeted a tweet from Adam Proteau suggesting Stamkos follow the lead of LeBron James and sign with his hometown team, the Toronto Maple Leafs. Stamkos’s deal with the Lightning expires after next season, but he and the Lightning can announce a contract extension as early as July 1. And that’s clearly what Stamkos wants to do at this point. Read more

Suspend him o̶r̶ ̶n̶o̶t̶: Brad Marchand’s slew-foot on Derick Brassard

Adam Proteau
Brad Marchand (Getty Images)

Brad Marchand is no stranger to the NHL’s supplemental discipline process. The Bruins winger also isn’t unfamiliar with being accused of slew-footing one of his opponents. So when Marchand did exactly that Thursday – this time, to Rangers star Derick Brassard – there’s no doubt he deserves to be hauled before the NHL department of player safety and hit with a significant suspension for undeniably reckless play.

Marchand and Brassard were chasing the puck into the corner in Boston, and Marchand clearly kicks out Brassard’s right foot just before he crashed into the boards in a sequence that easily could’ve resulted in a broken leg for the Blueshirts center: Read more

NHLPA boss Don Fehr: owners likely to lock out players again

Adam Proteau
Donald Fehr (Bruce Bennett)

There are still another seven seasons remaining in the NHL’s current collective bargaining agreement and the league’s business is booming to the point of serious and public expansion discussion. But as far as NHL Players’ Association executive director Donald Fehr is concerned, once the CBA ends after the 2021-22 campaign, the league’s labor history will repeat in the most unfortunate of ways.

That’s right. Prepare yourself for another lockout.

“If you put baseball to the side where there’s no cap, I don’t see anything yet which suggests any of the other three (North American) leagues are likely to break out of the phenomenon of a lockout every time, because a salary cap produces that phenomenon on the management side,” Fehr told THN Wednesday in an interview for a feature that appears in THN’s upcoming People of Power And Influence special edition. “(Owners) think they’ve got nothing to lose: “Let’s just go see what happens, and maybe we’ll get a little bit more.”

The 66-year-old Fehr – who has made an art out of eloquently keeping his cards close to the vest – discussed a wide array of topics for the feature, including NHLers potentially dealing with gambling and other temptations while playing in Las Vegas (“Lots of people live in Las Vegas and obey the law,”), the recent mumps outbreak and concussion protocols, and the prospect of independent doctors evaluating injured players (as opposed to the team doctors who currently have that job). Read more

Kings double down on roster, sign Alec Martinez to 6-year, $24-million extension – but change will still come

Adam Proteau
Alec Martinez

Under GM Dean Lombardi, the reigning-champion Los Angeles Kings have put a premium on player loyalty in an era where roster turnover is all but a given. That process continued Wednesday when Lombardi signed defenseman Alec Martinez to a six-year, $24-million contract extension – but it also guarantees the team will have to make changes next summer whether or not they win the Stanley Cup again this season.

Martinez’ contract – and its average annual value of $4-million a season – means the Kings have committed $60.1 million in cap space to just 14 players for next season; given that the cap isn’t guaranteed to rise beyond its current $69 million ceiling next season, that leaves precious little room to pay soon-to-be unrestricted free agent veterans Jarret Stoll and Justin Williams and restricted free agents Tyler Toffoli, Tanner Pearson and Martin Jones, among others.

This doesn’t mean the deal Martinez got is unfair. Read more

Los Angeles Kings will get salary cap relief during Slava Voynov’s suspension

Matt Larkin
Slava Voynov's salary will no longer count as part of L.A.'s cap hit while he is suspended. (Photo by Juan Ocampo/NHLI via Getty Images)

Slava Voynov’s domestic violence saga continues, but its direct impact on the Los Angeles Kings was diminished Friday.

Voynov has been charged with one felony count of corporal injury to spouse with great bodily injury. The Kings defenseman, 24, allegedly injured wife Marta Varlamova’s eyebrow, cheek and neck seriously enough to require medical attention, and Voynov was arrested Oct. 20.

In a statement Friday, the NHL announced the existing terms of Voynov’s suspension “will be continued indefinitely.” The league also stated, through NHL.com:

“However, in light of the uncertain and potentially extended period of time that the legal process may entail, the NHL and the NHLPA have agreed to permit the Kings to replace Mr. Voynov’s Salary and Bonuses pursuant to the Bona Fide Long-Term Injury Exception under the terms of the NHL/NHLPA Collective Bargaining Agreement.”

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How can the NHL even think of hiring Chris Pronger?

Ken Campbell
Chris Pronger (Getty Images)

Full disclosure: I really, really like Chris Pronger. On the ice, he was, in my opinion, one of the most dominant players of his era and a lock for the Hockey Hall of Fame. Off the ice, I consider him a friend. I’m honored to have been invited by him to share in the festivities when the Peterborough Petes raise a banner in his honor Nov. 2. I have his phone number in my list of contacts and we talk regularly, mostly about hockey, but of other things as well. During his career and even in the three years since he has played, Chris Pronger has filled my notebook and tape recorder with insightful, funny and downright eye-popping quotes. I find him intelligent, irreverent and refreshing.

I also have an enormous amount of sympathy for his current situation. Because he’s still listed as an active player for salary cap purposes, he cannot get on with his life. Because he’s still employed by and being paid by the Philadelphia Flyers, he’s stuck in a no-man’s land where he can’t retire and he can’t do much of anything else. Up until last season he was at least scouting for the Flyers, but that arrangement ended when Ron Hextall took over as GM in the off-season. Read more