Milan Lucic (Eliot J. Schechter/NHLI via Getty Images)
The Los Angeles Kings are going to need to find salary cap space this off-season to retain star Anze Kopitar, and one cap casualty could be recently acquired Milan Lucic. Lucic will seek a raise as an unrestricted free agent next season and the Kings likely won’t be able to afford it. Meanwhile, current free agent Cody Franson might be wise to consider the Sabres’ reported two-year deal.
The Los Angeles Kings will have to pay big bucks to keep first-line centerman Anze Kopitar out of next summer's unrestricted free agent market. However, he's not the King who will prove costly to retain.
Fluto Shinzawa of The Boston Globe speculates left winger Milan Lucic could have a short tenure in Los Angeles. Lucic, 27, was dealt to the Kings in June by the Boston Bruins. Like Kopitar, he's slated to become a UFA next July. He's completing a three-year, $18 million contract and it's expected he'll seek a significant raise.
The Kings currently have over $49 million invested in 15 players for 2016-17. That's not including the potential salary-cap recapture penalty for center Mike Richards, whose contract termination is being contested by the NHLPA, or the $4.167-million salary-cap hit of currently-suspended defenseman Slava Voynov.
Re-signing Kopitar could cost the Kings around $10-million annually, taking a significant bite out of their remaining cap space. Lucic could cost another $7 million per season. Even if the Kings can afford to re-sign both, Shinzawa notes they must leave sufficient cap room to re-sign wingers Tanner Pearson and Tyler Toffoli, who are restricted free agents in 2017.
Unless the Kings shed salary elsewhere, it's unlikely they can afford long-term deals for Kopitar and Lucic, making the latter potentially expendable at season's end. If the Kings are out of playoff contention by February, they could peddle Lucic by the trade deadline.
SABRES' OFFER COULD BE BEST FOR FRANSON
Throughout this summer, former Toronto Maple Leafs and Nashville Predators defenseman Cody Franson has sought a long-term contract. After two months on the open market, the 28-year-old blueliner has yet to find a suitable deal.
The Buffalo Sabres are reportedly trying to take advantage of Franson's situation. According to Mike Harrington of The Buffalo News, two sources claim the Sabres offered the rearguard a two-year deal. No word on how much money they're proposing. Franson earned $3.3 million on a one-year contract last season. Signing him could cost the Sabres over $4-million annually.
Harrington notes Franson was also linked earlier this summer to the Boston Bruins, Columbus Blue Jackets and Pittsburgh Penguins. Unlike those clubs, however, the Sabres have the cap space (over $12 million) to pitch Franson a lucrative offer.
Franson could use the Sabres' pitch as leverage in contract discussions with other teams. He could sit tight through training camp in hopes a club desperate for blueline depth makes a suitable pitch. Franson could also be reluctant to join a rebuilding club like the Sabres.
With NHL training camps opening soon and a new season on the horizon, Franson is running out of time. The Sabres' offer could be the best one he gets.
GLENCROSS LOOKING AT PTO OPTIONS
Former Calgary Flames and Washington Capitals left winger Curtis Glencross is in the same boat as Franson. The Calgary Sun's Eric Francis reports the 32-year-old Glencross is surprised to be unsigned this late in the off-season.
Late last season, the Flames dealt the former 26-goal scorer to Washington. Francis notes Glencross struggled with the Capitals, and was a healthy scratch in several playoff games. That undoubtedly had an adverse effect upon his free-agent value this summer.
Glencross said he's spoken with a few teams but is still playing the waiting game. He's also received some professional tryout offers. At this stage, accepting a PTO could be his best option of securing a contract for the upcoming season.
Rumor Roundup appears regularly only on thehockeynews.com. Lyle Richardson has been an NHL commentator since 1998 on his website, spectorshockey.net, and is a contributing writer for Eishockey News and The Guardian (P.E.I.).
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