The eyes of NHL team executives, player agents and perhaps some of the players themselves have been on the Los Angeles Kings over the last week-plus following the team's settlement with former forward Mike Richards. How the settlement impacts their cap and how much money they'll actually end up paying out to Richards were the big points of interest.
Thanks to Elliotte Friedman of Sportsnet, we now have a more definitive answer. According to Friedman, NHL teams were notified of the terms of the settlement and how it will be figured into the Kings' cap situation.
The team will be paying Richards a total of $10.5 million of the $22 million he had remaining on his contract before it was terminated in late June. Those payments will be made through the 2031-32 season (it was previously reported that the payout would end a year earlier). The Kings are also going to distribute the payout unevenly over the next 16 years for salary cap purposes.
The Kings already had a $1.32 million cap recapture penalty tied to Richards' contract termination counting against their cap figure. That's on the books for the next five seasons regardless. On top of that, the amount the Kings are paying Richards will also be added to their salary cap figure.
According to Friedman, the Kings opted to pay the largest sum to Richards this year, giving them a total cap hit of $3.12 million for 2015-16 tied to their former forward. Over the next four seasons, that becomes a $1.57 million cap hit. In the following years, the club will have a maximum cap hit of $900,000 (in years 2021-22 and 2022-23). Aside from those two seasons, the cap hits will fluctuate between $400,000 to $700,000.
In the end, the Kings will be taking on more money against their salary cap in total than they would have if they simply bought out Richards, but the cap hits will be significantly less up front. Knocking that cap figure down on an annual basis is far more important even if it keeps Richards on their books for what seems like forever.
Los Angeles has a lot more roster flexibility now. They can take on the bigger cap hit this year because Slava Voynov and his $4.16 million cap hit are scrubbed due to Voynov's voluntary departure from the United States after serving jail time for a domestic violence charge.
Now that NHL teams have the numbers in front of them, they probably aren't feeling too great about how Los Angeles has manufactured a considerable amount of cap space for itself by getting rid of an awful contract in a somewhat roundabout (but legal by CBA standards) way. Friedman previously reported that teams were "screaming bloody murder" over it to an unsympathetic NHL office.
Richards, by the way, is now a free agent. He has a court date set for Dec. 8 on charges of illegal possession of a controlled substance. That said, TSN's Bob McKenzie and others have reported that there is interest in Richards from other teams right now.