Manor One Name to Track if LA Kings go Goalie Shopping

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With the two weeks remaining until the NHL Trade Deadline, the Kings continue to face more questions than they have answers for. Nearly every time it seems like one of their open issues is solved (or even being close to solved), a new problem arises diverting attention now in that direction.

On Thursday, Blake Lizotte was activated off of Long Term Injured Reserve (LTIR), while Viktor Arvidsson is now about to join Carl Grundstrom there, putting things very much in flux for GM Rob Blake — not only roster-wise, but even just in understanding how much salary cap room is available on any given day.

As if that isn’t enough, Blake is also still trying to navigate around goaltender Pheonix Copley being out for the season. Sure, they signed David Rittich as a third depth option, yet this wasn’t the plan management had in mind.

Rittich has been serviceable in spot duty and No. 1 goalie Cam Talbot went to the NHL All-Star Game riding a cold streak that few saw coming. He’s bounced back a bit since then, yet goaltending remains the one ‘Achilles heel’ of this year’s LA Kings team. They came into the year knowing this would be a one-year bridge situation, with plans to address their long-term goaltending situation this summer when the team will have more cap flexibility.

But what about this season?

If they want to have any serious chance at going on a deep playoff run, they may need to add a goalie.

Nashville’s Juuse Saros and Jacob Markstrom are perhaps the two biggest names most often linked to the Kings over the past few months. Either sounds well and good, until you start to look at the cost (high for both) and what the Kings would have to do in order to fit either player under the salary cap. It would likely cost them at least a first-round draft pick and Arthur Kaliyev just to start. This comes after they previously traded away their first round picks in back-to-back years (2022 for Kevin Fiala and 2023 for Vladislav Gavrikov).

Neither player is a pure rental, as they both have some term left; Sarros one more year and Markstrom is signed through June 2026. Either deal would probably also need to include a third team for salary retention purposes.

Now, there is another option to consider.

Enter Marc-Andre Fleury.

Yes, he’s 39 years old. There is still plenty of tread on those tires, though.

He’s a rental — or, in this case, another lane on the bridge.

A veteran of over 1,000 NHL games, becoming only the fourth netminder in league history to reach that mark, Fleury was had a .928 save percentage just three years ago. Since then, he had around a .909 save percentage until this season, where his numbers have dipped a little bit playing on an erratic Minnesota Wild team.

Fleury is a three-time Stanley Cup Champion, and the one player Vegas owner Bill Foley has reportedly regretted trading to people who have spoken to him privately.

In his career, Fleury has a .925 save percentage against the Pacific Division; his best numbers against any of the NHL’s divisions. It hasn’t been done in a small sample size either. He’s played his second most games against clubs from the Pacific.

Fleury is a fierce competitor, something the Kings locker room lost when they separated from Jonathan Quick last year.

In the final year of a contract carrying a $3.5M AAV, the Kings could absorb the whole contract if Arvidsson was to stay on LTIR for the balance of the season.

They could also choose to get a third team involved, perhaps even one that has been a frequent trade partner in the Philadelphia Flyers.

In addition to other movers, it sounds like PHI is willing to operate as a 3rd party broker and weaponize their cap space. After getting full relief for Carter Hart, they project to have almost $9M by the TD.

They can open up an additional $6.25M by shifting Ryan Ellis to LTIR.

— Anthony Di Marco (@ADiMarco25) February 23, 2024


There’s also a full no trade clause; something we’ll assume Fleury would waive for an opportunity to move from a team not expected to play past their 82-game regular season schedule to a club already in a playoff spot and looking to improve their odds.

Blake and Wild GM Bill Guerin have done business together once before, in the aforementioned Fiala deal from the summer of 2022.

In a bit of (what would be) irony, Guerin acquired Fleury at the 2022 Trade Deadline to join Talbot as a tandem in Minnesota. Could history repeat itself in Los Angeles?

Depending on if David Rittich was to stay or go in any sort of a deal would impact exactly how much cap room the Kings would need in any deal for a goaltender.

The #GoKingsGo added Arvidsson to LTIR ($4.25M) & called up Spence.
Because they don't have sufficient room in their LTIR perf bonus pool for his bonuses, Spence uses up $919K of space (his AAV), not his 820K Cap Hit.

LA has $3.35M LTIR space remainingLos Angeles Kings Salary Cap, Cap Hit, Los Angeles Kings Contracts | Puckpedia

— PuckPedia (@PuckPedia) February 24, 2024


In this scenario, if Rittich was part of a package going to Minnesota, the Kings would need to absorb Fleury’s cap hit less Rittich’s $875k, so about $2.6M. Now, that’s if they were take on the full value of Fleury’s contract — something they could do in the current LTIR situation they find themselves in.

It’s also worth pointing out that trading for Fleury and taking the contract as is will also cost the Kings less assets in return, likely only a draft pick or mid-tier prospect.

Doing it that way would leave money available to also chase a depth forward in a trade over the next few weeks.

Further, if Mikey Anderson was to end up on LTIR, the Kings could have even more money to play with.

While losing a player of Anderson’s abilities would be another challenge for the club, freeing up that money would at least be a positive — something the Kings need as they look to make their final playoff push.

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