Manor 2024 Trade Deadline: Expectations for LA Kings

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With the NHL Trade Deadline now just one week away, let’s layout what to expect from the LA Kings.

It’s been a tumultuous few weeks for GM Rob Blake and coach Jim Hiller. A team reboot coming out of the All-Star break got off to a rousing start with a 4-0 shutout over the Oilers. A few games later, forward Viktor Arvidsson made his season debut and it looked like things were starting to trend upwards.

And then the wheels came off.

Arvidsson was injured last Tuesday vs. Columbus.

Mikey Anderson was injured last Thursday vs. Nashville.

As if that wasn’t enough, Adrian Kempe was then injured in Edmonton on Monday.

So, where do things stand heading into the Trade Deadline?

We’ll try to unpack a myriad of connected topics and then tie it all back together.

Injury Updates​


Lost in all injury talk has been forward Carl Grundstrom. He’s on Long Term Injured Reserve (LTIR) with his foot in a boot. From what we’ve heard, he is expected back in late March.

Arvidsson was also moved to LTIR, which has allowed the Kings to keep ‘extra’ players on their roster. The team is really set up cap-wise to carry 21 players when everybody is fully healthy, two short of the league maximum of 23 players. Like Grundstrom, he too is expected back in mid-late March. With the timing of when he was placed on LTIR, the earliest Arvidsson can return is when LA plays Chicago on March 15.

Anderson is said to be a little ahead of that schedule. He could be back a bit earlier than Arvidsson. Because the left shot defenseman is not on LTIR, he basically can come back as soon as he’s medically cleared. We don’t believe he’ll be back before the Trade Deadline. So, we’ll say he’s still 10 days (or more) away. Obviously, injuries are a fluid situation, and this timeline could change once he resumes skating with the team in practice.

Kempe’s situation took a positive turn over the past 24 hours. We were hearing he’d probably be out 4-6 weeks initially. However, it now seems there was some encouraging news coming out of his most recent MRI. Potentially, he could be back in 2-3 weeks, allegedly. Thus, once again, it’s sounding more like mid-March.

Trade Deadline​


Why did we start with injury updates in an article about the Trade Deadline? Because the status of those four players is largely what will drive Blake’s approach heading into next Friday.

Bottom line, according to team sources we’ve spoken with, the Kings are not expected to acquire a goaltender or a scoring forward — the two most common items mentioned by fans and other media members in recent weeks.

They also won’t be trading their 2024 first round pick next week.

Quite frankly, the reason the Kings won’t be making any significant trades is because they can’t afford to cap-wise. Although they have extra money to play with right now because of their LTIR situation, they also have to be able to put a roster together that has all four of those players tucked under the cap limit. As mentioned above — and numerous times this season — the roster can only really carry 21 players when Kempe, Arvidsson, Anderson, and Grundstrom are all healthy. Which means, their options are extremely limited if they wanted to add a player because they’re basically at the cap limit when all 21 players are healthy.

What are some options then?

Well, if they traded picks/prospects for a player from another team, they most likely wouldn’t have the money to keep that 22nd player on the roster come mid-late March when everybody is healthy.

For argument’s sake, let’s assume these are the 21 players on the roster to be cap compliant:

Byfield – Kopitar – Kempe
Moore – Danault – Fiala
Laferriere – Dubois – Arvidsson
Lewis – Lizotte – Kaliyev

Gavrikov – Doughty
Moverare – Roy
Englund – Clarke
Spence

Talbot
Rittich

In that scenario, they are missing Jaret Anderson-Dolan, Alex Turcotte, and Carl Grundstrom. It’s not to say those are the definitive three that will be off the roster. It’s just illustrating how difficult it is to get down to 21 once everybody is healthy.

Turcotte is the only one of those three who can go to AHL Ontario without needing waivers.

Despite the speculation by some of Kaliyev being traded, we don’t expect him to be traded next week. If Kaliyev is dealt, it is far more likely to happen in June at the Draft in Vegas, where his value will be higher than it is at the Trade Deadline.

We also expect Alex Laferriere to be up for the balance of the season. Thus, they’ll need to get creative to keep Grundstrom on the roster.

Could Trevor Lewis be traded? Sure, it’s an option. We don’t expect the Kings to do that, though.

Robbing Peter to Pay Paul​

Your daily reminder…

Matt Roy is not being traded next week

— The Mayor | Team MM (@mayorNHL) February 27, 2024


Also, unless there is an unexpected turn of events over the next seven days, our sources have confirmed the plan is to keep Matt Roy; not trade him before Friday’s deadline. We first wrote about it back in January in an article here.

Why not?

Two primary reasons:

1. They’re a better team with Roy than without him. The Kings want to try and make some noise in the playoffs. To do so, they’ll need Roy. While trading him would create some money for a forward (and they could conceivably slot Jordan Spence into his RD2 spot on the roster), they’d be helping the offense and weakening the defense. So, that’s like robbing Peter to pay Paul.

2. LA management is hopeful of re-signing Roy this off-season. Now, that’s a tall task once you peel the onion and dig in. They know it’s probably 50-50, at best, that they can pull it off, but that won’t stop them from trying. Part of the challenge has to do with the limited amount of money they’ll have this summer. Equally working against them is the fact Roy’s eventual price tag could be much higher than whatever they’re able to cobble together.

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The above 2024-25 cap projection is designed to provide a quick glance at what they’re working with come this summer. With Anze Kopitar’s new contract kicking in, they’ll save $3M. Add it the savings of Arvidsson coming off the books and they’ll save more than $4M more. And the cap is going up too.

Take all of that into consideration — along with the removal of David Rittich and Cam Talbot from the roster — and the Kings are left with just shy of $15M to work with, and they’ll need to accomplish three major things, maybe four.

For starters, they’re going to spend money on a starting goalie. Next, they’ll sign Quinton Byfield to an extension; preferably a $4-5M bridge deal, but that’s a conversation for this summer.

Working through the math, if the combined expense for Byfield and the goalie came in around $10M, there would be just shy of $5M remaining for Roy. That would be it. They’d be at the cap limit and there wouldn’t be money left over to add a UFA forward to replace Arvidsson.

Re-signing Roy would also mean Spence would likely be traded, as Brandt Clarke would be the RD3 next season until he’s ready to leapfrog Roy on the depth chart. There wouldn’t be much of a point to keep Spence around as a seventh D. This all assumes the organization will continue to want to keep guys on their natural shooting side.

Spence’s money would then be reallocated to another inexpensive blueliner.

Ditto with Kaliyev. Trading him doesn’t really free up money. His slot on the above schedule would just be taken by another player with a very similar cap hit.

We are expecting Turcotte and Akil Thomas to be on the NHL roster next season.

Also, don’t be surprised to see Thomas called up before the end of this season if the Kings are in a position to do an emergency recall. Both he and Sammy Fagemo were being talked about internally for a possible recall, if needed.

One Other Option to Watch​


Blake Lizotte is a Restricted Free Agent this summer. He makes $1.675M as a 4C, on a team up against the cap. It just doesn’t make mathematical sense long-term. Trading him now is probably the one true chip Blake can play next week. Even though it wouldn’t be enough money to do anything major, just having his cap hit off the books would give the team a little bit of breathing room; something they desperately need.

We’re not saying he will be traded. Similar to Roy, he brings something they’d like to have for the playoffs. Yet, if they were going to do anything at the Deadline, this is one of the few moves that make sense.

Paper Transactions​


Perhaps the biggest thing to look for next week surrounding the Kings are waivers. As explained here, NHL teams can only make four non-emergency recalls after the NHL Trade Deadline. Additionally, to make players eligible for the AHL playoffs, they must be on the AHL roster at the time of the of the NHL Trade Deadline.

To become cap complaint (in advance of the Kings four injured players eventually returning), they’ll need to set things up for their ‘normal roster of 21 players’ by clearing four spots next week. Turcotte will be sent to the AHL in a paper transaction; meaning right after the Deadline passes, the Kings will immediately use one of their four available recalls.

Clarke or Spence will most likely be one of the other players sent down and then immediately recalled.

To come up with two other spots, the Kings could be forced to put Jacob Moverare and/or Jaret Anderson-Dolan on waivers as early as Wednesday of next week — to give the player(s) time to clear waivers, and be available to play Thursday night vs. Ottawa.

Of course, should a player like JAD be claimed on waivers, Thomas and Fagemo re-enter the conversation for a recall.

If this section is a bit confusing, start with the article linked above that explains the post-Trade Deadline recall rules. Or, simply know that the Kings will be clearing four spots next week and then the plan will be to recall three or four of those players immediately following the Trade Deadline (i.e. they will be paper transactions) … because the team won’t have enough healthy bodies without them until mid-March.

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