Los Angeles Kings Gamble with Future to Keep Championship Window Open

Due to their recent offseason decisions, the Los Angeles Kings may well find themselves in salary-cap trouble in a couple of years.

One gets the sense they aren’t looking that far ahead yet, though.

In the final summer for compliance buyouts, a slower and less productive Mike Richards was retained and is locked in until the end of the 2019-20 season.

Thirty-one-year-old blueliner Matt Greene was re-signed to a four-year, $10 million deal on Tuesday. On Wednesday, ESPN.com reported that the team is bringing 32-year-old sniper Marian Gaborik back for seven years and $34.9 million.

These moves were made precisely because the team is in win-now mode in 2014. It has generated the most successful three-season stretch in the league—as well as franchise history—and is teetering on the brink of a dynasty.

Are there potential drawbacks to these choices? Of course. The possible advantages, however, trump them by a sizable margin.

Let’s appraise the situation for each of these three players.


Mike Richards


At the age of 29, Richards almost looked out of gas at the tail end of 2013-14.

His shifts were alarmingly short, his basic stats (41 points, minus-six in 82 games) took a nosedive, and he lined up on the fourth unit in the playoffs.

He stated in an interview with the Los Angeles Times’ Lisa Dillman that he fell ill during the season and never quite recovered. A couple of concussions throughout his Kings tenure may constitute an ongoing bugaboo too, as Richards has been nowhere near as physical lately as he was upon his arrival in L.A. in 2011.

Most concerning of all, his defensive numbers have gotten progressively uglier. He’s been on the ice for the second-most and most five-on-five goals against among forwards in the past two campaigns.

This is hard...

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