Where Los Angeles Kings Can Still Turn for Help in 2014 Offseason
For a Stanley Cup champion that will see nearly its entire roster return in 2014-15, one would assume the Los Angeles Kings were at the very top of the league in terms of payroll.
The Kings rank seventh in the NHL with a team payroll of $67,441,894, which gives them $1,558,106 to work with under the cap. It's not a lot, but they are better off than teams like the Philadelphia Flyers and Chicago Blackhawks.
If general manager Dean Lombardi is still looking to add more depth, there is no shortage of options. Here are three young, affordable players he could consider.
Andrei Loktionov is no stranger to the Kings. He was drafted 123rd overall by L.A. in the 2008 NHL draft.
The 5'11", 190-pound forward played in 59 games with the Kings between the 2009-10 and 2011-12 seasons. Prior to the 2013 trade deadline, he was traded to the New Jersey Devils in exchange for a fifth-round pick. At last year's deadline, he was shipped to the Carolina Hurricanes, along with a conditional pick, for veteran Tuomo Ruutu.
Loktionov is now a free agent coming off of a one-year, $725,000 contract.
Loktionov has a dynamic offensive skill set. He's agile, has soft hands, strong playmaking abilities and a good shot. He also has plenty of big-game experience, having won a Memorial Cup with the Windsor Spitfires in 2009, a World Junior gold medal and having participated in the IIHF World Championship.
What he lacks is size and strength to make a consistent impact as a forward in the NHL. However, he could bolster the Manchester Monarchs' lineup and add depth in L.A. when needed.
Like Loktionov, Keaton Ellerby spent some time with L.A. in the past, albeit for a short period. The Florida Panthers selected him 10th overall in 2007, and he spent parts of four seasons there before being traded to the Kings at the 2012-13 trade deadline.
Ellerby is just 25 years old, and for a potential third-pairing defenseman, he offers great size. He stands 6'5" and weighs 220 pounds. He certainly doesn't have the speed or puck-moving ability of Drew Doughty or Slava Voynov, but in a limited role—playing fewer than 10 minutes per game—it would be worth signing him to a short-term deal.
He racked up two goals and four assists for six points in 51 games with the Jets last season.
A native of Saskatoon, James Wright is a 24-year-old center fresh off of a two-year, $1.3 million contract.
Wright was taken in the fourth round, 117th overall in the 2008 NHL draft by the Tampa Bay Lightning. He played two seasons with the team, recording five points in 49 games. He then played with the Winnipeg Jets for two seasons, where he suited up in 97 games and notched seven points.
Wright would add more size and physicality to the Kings' fourth line, although he'd likely spend much of the season in the AHL. At 6'4", 200 pounds, Wright isn't afraid to mix it up in the corners or throw a hit along the boards. He averaged more than a hit per game last season and blocked 20 shots, not bad considering his limited play time.
Again, this is the type of player who would provide depth in case injuries pile up at some point in the season.