LA Kings’ left wing, Ryan Smyth is entering his last season with the team. He is respected, loved, has proven himself a mentor and a valuable contributor on and off the ice. With all of those accolades, the Kings have to find a way to trade him if they want to have any shot of improving their roster through free agency. His $6.25 million dollar cap hit is a leash around Dean Lombardi’s neck that will keep our GM from making any significant acquisitions. Here is why:

The Salary Cap is currently at $59.4 million. It will likely go up. Let’s assume it rises to the expected $62.4 million.

The Kings currently sit at $48 million (rounded up). That assumes Michal Handzus and Alexei Ponikarovsky don’t sign. Add Brayden Schenn and you add a little over $3 million. Now, the Kings are at $51 million.

“That’s $11.4 million Scribe? What’s the problem.”

Did you forget Drew Doughty and Wayne Simmonds are restricted free agents? Want to risk Doughty to an offer sheet? Long term, short term, who the hell knows with Drew but let’s assume he signs long term, with a cap hit of $5 million. Let’s further assume Wayne Simmonds signs short term with a cap hit of $2 million…am I dreaming here? Maybe. Humor me. Now, we are a little over $4 million under the Cap. The more we pay Drew and Wayne, the worse it gets.

If you assume Brayden Schenn takes Michal Handzus’ spot, who takes that of Ponikarovsky? Bring someone from within? While the choices are many, if you go down the middle with Kopitar, Stoll, Schenn and Loktionov as your centers, you have Dustin squared (Penner and Brown) as your 1st line wings, Smyth and Williams as the second pair, Clifford and Simmonds as your third pair, and Lewis and Richardson as your fourth pair. Lewis could also play center. What about Scott Parse? Let’s see how he plays in camp before we slot him in. He did just miss over one half a season and had surgery.

Regardless of the pairings, we have a maximum of $4 million, give or take, with which to play. Damn, I just realized Trevor Lewis is also an RFA. Take another $1.5 off the cap. That leaves $2.5 million? That isn’t going to add a top 6 anything.

Now, turn that $2.5 million into nearly $9 million. Suddenly, Brad Richards is well within our sights. Want Zach Parise? We can not only afford him, we can trade for him and sign him long term (please don’t raise your fist and claim there is no way we are getting Parise. I realize it’s a long shot. I am using him as an example or, better stated, a symbol of the type of talent we can get with a Smyth-less team). The different between the LA Kings icing essentially the same team as last season, minus a couple of veterans, plus a couple of kids verses adding a definitive top 6 forward through free agency or a trade is Ryan Smyth’s contract.

Do you have the patience to ride out another season of potentially “more of the same” or do you want to take that next step now? I am not asking you. If I was, you would respond, “is Terry Murray still coaching this team?” I am asking Dean Lombardi.

If the LA Kings haven’t asked Ryan Smyth to retire, I would be surprised.

If Lombardi is not seriously considering trading him to the Oilers for a 2nd, 3rd or 4th round pick, or another Canadian team, I would be down right shocked. There is that pesky no movement clause.

If I know Dean, he sees that contract as the greatest obstacle he has to improve the on ice product.

If I know Dean, he knows he has to make a move.

Bah, what do I know?

What do you think boys and girls?