Not only did Stamkos's massive deal (eight years, $68 million) come in at $12 million less than what the Kings paid Kopitar. It removed the top commodity just before the free-agent class of 2016 hit the open market Friday.
With Stamkos unavailable, the league focus shifts to power forward
Ultimately, the Kings are dealing with a cash crunch that may keep them out of the bidding for high-end free agents because the salary cap rose modestly this year.
“We’ll look at a couple of mid-range things,” Kings General Manager
"You might be seeing that correction in the market, so to speak. It's inevitable when you have the cap not going up. We have the issue, like Chicago, of the top guys making a lot."
The Kings are looking beyond this summer of free agency, he said.
"We have to be careful when you're looking at this, not only this year," Lombardi said. "If [Lucic] is not coming back, then you've got space. But you have a couple of top young players [Kings Tyler Toffoli and Tanner Pearson] coming up next year. That's a moving target. Your ability to use that space is limited because you have to keep your eye on next year. The Canadian dollar isn't exactly encouraging. Which means you might get a small [salary cap] bump again."
The Kings positioned themselves to potentially clear cap space by putting veteran defenseman
"It's an option," Lombardi said of a buyout, "but it doesn't mean we're going to go that route. You've got a limited period so you see what is potentially out there. It gives you a little more flexibility if you want to go that route."
The list of available free agents includes fseveral quality forwards. Players such as
A more pressing need for the Kings may be help on the blue line. The top potential unrestricted free agents, defensemen
It may be that the Kings will need to wait until the first rush of signings are over to see who might remain on the market and could be available as a bargain alternative.
As for the
Earlier, the Ducks traded goaltender
The wild card for any team looking for a streaky scoring forward is