Do the LA Kings need more defensive depth?

LA Kings (Mandatory Credit: David Berding-USA TODAY Sports)
LA Kings (Mandatory Credit: David Berding-USA TODAY Sports) /
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LA Kings Rasmus Ristolainen
LA Kings (Mandatory Credit: Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports) /

Solution number three: The LA Kings make a trade

As previously stated, the LA Kings have over $10 million in cap space – currently the most in the NHL. Some expected General Manager to use this abundance of cap space to take on a “bad contract” to acquire more assets, but ultimately the only significant trade he made was for Olli Maatta.

Cap space was and still is at a premium in the league, and if Roy and Walker are going to miss a lot of time, perhaps it’s time for Blake to re-visit the trade market. An opportunity could be had to both fill a need and gain additional assets.

Rasmus Ristolainen seems to frequently find himself on the Buffalo Sabres’ trading block. The hulking 26-year-old is known for his physical play but can also chip in offensively. He has this season and next left on his contract, which carries a $5.4 million AAV before hitting unrestricted free agency.

The Sabres are looking to contend for the playoffs this season, so Ristolainen would not come cheap. However, if there is a team that has the cap space and assets to pull this deal off, it is the Kings.

While the Buffalo Sabres have the luxury of having a small bit of cap space available, the Washington Capitals do not. Washington is right up against the cap (pardon the pun) and is basically compliant because of LTIR. If the club hopes to make any moves by the tradeline to improve their Stanley Cup chances, they will have to open up some salary cap room.

One asset the Washington Capitals do have is an abundance of right defensemen. Coincidentally, that is where the LA Kings currently have a need. 30-year-old Nick Jensen is a player the Capitals could be willing to move at a very cheap price, perhaps even throwing in a sweetener. He has two more seasons left after this one on a contract that carries an AAV of $2.5 million.

This may not seem like a huge number, but when a team is desperate for salary cap space, every dollar counts – and the Kings can exploit this. If LA doesn’t want Jensen, they could also make a deal with Washington for Trevor van Riemsdyk. His contract expires at the end of this season and has a reasonable $800,000 cap hit, so the Capitals may be reluctant to move him.

There are all the options for the LA Kings. Keep in mind, if the club brings someone in via free agency or trade, that player could be subject to quarantine protocols and might not be able to play right away. Let the speculation begin.