The Los Angeles Kings, the defending Stanley Cup champions, find themselves in an interesting position right now. They sit with a 24-18-12 record in 54 games, with only seven wins on the road. The only team with fewer road wins is the Buffalo Sabres.
The playoffs aren’t a sure thing, obviously, and that puts Dean Lombardi’s club in limbo as far as the trade deadline goes. When that magical day arrives, what’s the plan?
The plan, inasmuch as it can be called that, is that there are a lot of different plans. Obviously a lot depends on whether or not they find themselves in playoff position by the deadline, but the Kings could be looking to buy or looking to sell or looking to simply sit there and see what happens. Most reports indicate the latter is the most distinct possibility.
But there’s also the matter of need. Los Angeles is in the market for a defenceman for the top four. Suspended defenceman Slava Voynov is up on domestic violence charges and the Kings have been sort of waiting to see how that pans out. It’s not a good look for the team, but there’s little they can do about it.
Even if Voynov has the case thrown out or is acquitted on the charges, there’s the small matter of the NHL’s suspension. The league may not lift it in time for the post-season, which means Voynov still sits. And that means the Kings still need a defenceman worthy of playing in the top four. What’s more, Los Angeles will have to keep $4.1 million in cap space available in case Voynov returns. What fun.
The Kings also have an interesting situation with Mike Richards. They tried to push him out, had to waive him and now they’re sitting with him on the Manchester Monarchs of the AHL. They tried to trade him but there were no takers. That’s not likely to change, which means there’s no getting rid of his $5.75 million cap hit.
With the two aforementioned difficulties, the Kings are in tight when it comes to the cap. They have no room. If they’re going to deal, it’s going to have to be a trade. They won’t be buying without seeing serious return on investment.
The Kings do have some interesting unrestricted free agents coming up. Justin Williams, Jarrett Stoll and Robyn Regehr are all on that list. If Los Angeles finds itself missing the post-season by deadline time, these players could make captivating conversation pieces.
For now, however, the Kings are a team without many options. There are a lot of different plans for Lombardi to work with, but the most likely option is no option. Without cap space and without seriously interested parties, Los Angeles seems set to sit and wait for a while.