Rumors

Rumor Roundup: Martinez deal could leave Kings facing cap crunch

Lyle Richardson
By:

Author: The Hockey News

Rumors

Rumor Roundup: Martinez deal could leave Kings facing cap crunch

Lyle Richardson
By:

With the signing of Alec Martinez, the Kings now have $60 million invested in 14 players. If the salary cap doesn't go up, Los Angeles could find themselves in a tough spot and trying to work through a cap crunch.

The Los Angeles Kings recent re-signing of defenseman Alec Martinez to a six-year, $24-million contract extension leaves them with over $60 million invested in 14 players for 2015-16. There's growing speculation over what GM Dean Lombardi will do to address this situation.

If the salary cap stagnates for next season they won't have much room to re-sign such notables as Justin Williams, Tyler Toffoli, Tanner Pearson and Jarret Stoll. Looming on the horizon is a new contract for top center Anze Kopitar. He's signed through 2015-16 and become eligible for unrestricted free agency in July 2016.

Kopitar's current cap hit is $6.8 million, but he'll earn $7.5 million in actual salary this season and $7.7 million next season. The Kings leading scorer in every season since 2007-08 and among the NHL's top two-way centers, Kopitar could seek over $10 million per season on his next deal.

In recent weeks there was talk center Mike Richards might be available, though his lengthy, back-diving contract and the possibility of salary-cap recapture penalties could make him difficult to move. TSN's Darren Dreger reports the Richards trade rumors are still out there. He also claims he heard one about Kings captain Dustin Brown, though a club source quickly denied the 30-year-old winger was in play.

Like Richards, Brown has struggled over the past couple of seasons. He's in the first year of an eight-year, $47-million deal, which will be difficult to move if Lombardi decides to put him on the block.

Sportsnet's Elliotte Friedman believes the Montreal Canadiens and Boston Bruins could have interest in Kings right wing Jordan Nolan. Wingers Kyle Clifford or Dwight King could also attract some interest. Clifford and Nolan are restricted free agents at season's end, while King is in the first season of a three-year, $5.85-million contract.

PREDATORS SEEKING VETERAN FORWARD

The Nashville Predators could soon be shopping a veteran forward. ESPN.com's Craig Custance reports the recent return of center Mike Fisher and the emergence of several young players like leading scorer Filip Forsberg could make Olli Jokinen or Matt Cullen expendable.

Cullen and Jokinen become eligible for unrestricted free agency in July. Custance believes Cullen has more value. The 38-year-old center has seven points in 16 games since returning from an early-season injury. Jokinen, 36, has only one point in 25 games. Cullen, however, carries a $3.5-million cap hit for this season.

The Predators are currently among the leaders in the Western Conference standings, so there's no rush to make a deal. Clubs interested in Cullen could wait until the New Year to make a pitch, as half his salary will be paid out by then.

SOBOTKA ON HIS WAY BACK TO NHL?

ESPN.com's Pierre LeBrun speculates the St. Louis Blues could receive some interest in center Vladimir Sobotka leading up to the March 2 trade deadline.

During the summer, Sobotka was awarded a one-year, $2.725-million contract via arbitration. However, he opted instead for a three-year deal with Omsk of the KHL.

LeBrun claims Sobotka has a one-month window in his KHL contract allowing him to return to the NHL. If he does, however, he'll have to honor that one-year arbitration deal.

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.).

For more great profiles, news and views from the world of hockey, subscribe to The Hockey News magazine.

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Rumor Roundup: Martinez deal could leave Kings facing cap crunch