LA Kings: Jaden Schwartz is a good player to target on cap-strapped Blues

Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports /

The LA Kings are among the teams with the most salary cap. Might they consider taking on a bad contract for additional draft or prospect capital?

For the first time in a while, the LA Kings have some financial flexibility regarding the NHL’s salary cap. The organization is no stranger to taking on bad contracts. See Dion Phaneuf, who came over via trade in February 2018, with the Ottawa Senators retaining a quarter of Phaneuf’s contract.

The following offseason, the Kings traded Phaneuf to Montreal for a fourth-round pick. With approximately $11M of the team’s salary cap dedicated to dead contracts, the Kings will be freed of all but $2M next year.

The organization is in such a favorable spot right now that they can afford to take on a contract from a team struggling to fit the puzzle pieces called the league’s salary cap. We are well aware that the 2020-2021 season is an evaluation year. But there are a couple of openings on the roster where a contract from outside the organization could plug-in.

Jaden Schwartz – St. Louis Blues

Despite the acquisition of Torey Krug this offseason, the St. Louis Blues are currently over the salary cap. They’ll have to shed approximately $1.2M before Opening Night or place someone on long-term injured reserve.

A player like Jaden Schwartz might become available for the same reasons that Tyler Johnson is being shopped in Tampa. He (Schwartz) has a modified no-trade clause. He also comes at a $5.4M cap hit before hitting unrestricted free agency after the upcoming season.

Schwartz, 28, scored 22 goals with 35 assists for 57 points in 71 games last season. He was an integral piece of the Blues’ special teams, tallying 9 goals with 11 assists on the man advantage.

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He spent the majority of the 2019-2020 season at left and right-wing on the Blues’ second line. Near the end of the year, he had a series of consecutive games at right wing on the first line.

There’s a vastly approaching scenario where Dustin Brown is moved either to left-wing on the first line (where he’s played before) or down to the second line as he enters the twilight of his career.

Schwartz has been chomping at the bit for additional playing time. The acquisition would be doing the Blues a favor, likely including a sweetener in the deal, perhaps in the form of a draft pick or a prospect.

For a one-year commitment, Schwartz is worth acquiring. I’m not entirely sure what the return would be for St. Louis, but it would obviously have to fit within their salary cap constraints. The Blues are still in a win-now mode. Signing Kurg further proved that.

But they’ll have to move someone off the roster before Opening Night. With an expiring contract in Schwartz, it makes sense to move him for something. LA benefits in this because they badly need scoring.