Jun 6, 2013; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Kings left wing Dustin Penner (25) celebrates after scoring a goal against Chicago Blackhawks goalie Corey Crawford (50) and defenseman Sheldon Brookbank (17) in the second period of game four of the Western Conference finals of the 2013 Stanley Cup Playoffs at the Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports
The NHL Free Agency is set to open in just over an hour, and with that the Kings could be saying their good-byes to a few players. Rob Scuderi, Dustin Penner and Brad Richardson are all set to become Unrestricted Free Agents once the window opens and with the Kings’ current salary cap situation and recent developments, one can’t help but think the possibility of all three players skipping town is very possible.
Let’s start off with Scuderi. There was reports surrounding the Kings that they would not bring back defenseman, Keaton Ellerby, a good sign in the Scuderi scenario. Ellerby is a left-handed defenseman like Scuderi and this would free up some money to through his way. But yesterday, the Kings announced they had agreed to terms on an extension with Ellerby, a bad sign if you wanted Scuderi back next season. This fills up a spot on the blue line and ties up some very important money that would be useful for Scuderi’s contract.
Next up is Penner. Penner has underperformed since he came to Los Angeles, and that has overshadowed everything he has done since he left Edmonton. This drop in point production resulted in his pay cut and only getting a one-year extension last summer. Another season has passed and Penner still did not really perform. So if Penner wants to stick around, which apparently he does, he will have to take a pay cut, not solely based on performance but because of money available as well. However, if Scuderi does not return there may be a little more money to give Penner, if the Kings don’t use it somewhere else.
Last but certainly not least is Richardson. Out of the three set to hit the Free Agency waters, Richardson may be the most likely to return because of the type of player he is. Richardson is a gritty player that does not have the status that Penner and Scuderi have, so the Kings may be able to grab Richardson at a bargain price even though he should get an increase in pay.
What it all comes down to is money, and unfortunately that is the Kings handicap right now. They have a lot of money tied up with some major pieces to the puzzle and might not be able to bring some other important parts back because of that. You have to also remember that the Kings still have to work on new contracts for Kyle Clifford, Trevor Lewis, Jordan Nolan, Alec Martinez and Jake Muzzin who will become Restricted Free Agents today which will take money as well..
I think it will play out like this. Scuderi is gone. He was a huge piece in the Kings’ Stanley Cup run and playoff run last season, I would love to keep him but it will just cost too much. Letting go of him frees up money the Kings can use to keep their younger guns. Then between Penner and Richardson only one will come back. I think it will be Penner. The guy loves Southern California and I think her will take a pay cut to stay here. As for Richardson, he leaves town and makes some cash somewhere else.
On a side note, on the active roster on the Kings website this morning both Penner and Scuderi were missing. Richardson on the other hand was not.