Since this summer has been so slow with L.A. Kings news or anything of interest, I looked at what we have in store this time next year. RFAs? None! Imagine that. UFAs. Here they are:

1. Dustin Penner, $4.25 million

2. Jarret Stoll, $3.6 million

3. Scott Parse, $900,000.00

4. Colin Fra…

4. Kevin Westgarth, $525,000.00

5. Willie Mitchell, $3.5 million

Let’s say we don’t add any salary between now and then and none of the above players get signed. Let’s further say, for the sake of argument, the salary cap stays the same at $64.3 million. Finally, assume Doughty’s cap hit is $7.3 million. Rounded off, our salary is at $48 million. That leaves, again rounded off, about $16 million dollars in cap space.

What do we do with $16 million? Back to the above 5 players.

Dustin Penner intends to be in top shape. He is working his butt (and body fat) off. He scores more than 25 goals, 50 points and shows a commitment on both ends while playing the rough and heavy Terry Murray game and Dean will want to keep him…for the right price. $4.5? Actually, that is about right. The problem is Dustin will want years. He is going to be 30 in September of 2012. This may be his last contract. Does Dean sign him to 4-5 years at $4.5? He would have to have a break out season for that. I say the odds are against it. Penner may walk.

Jarret Stoll wants to remain a Los Angeles King. L.A. fits him. He fits L.A. He is a terrific and consistent face off stud. He brings speed, work ethic and a great shot when it doesn’t sail high over the net. One could argue he is the near perfect third line center. Jarret will also be 30 years old and may also be on his last lucrative contract. Does he stay? I think so. I think Dean keeps him, he signs for $2.8 to $3.5 and he gets 3-4 years. Don’t be surprised if Jarret is signed well before he hits free agency. The only thing that was working against Jarret was our depth at center creeping up on him but a big part of that depth got traded away in Brayden Schenn. My guess on his cap hit? $3.2 with a performance bonus schedule.

To Scott Parse. It’s hard to believe Parse will be 27 years old next September. The LA Kings drafted him in 2004, only 163 spots behind the Kings’ 11th overall pick of Lauri Tukonen and look how well, bad, awful that turned out. If Scott Parse has a healthy and productive season, he will remain a LA King and will likely get $1.0 to $1.5 for a few years. If he does not, I don’t think the Kings will offer him anything that will be worth his while. The interesting dynamic with Parse is what may happen if he has a break out season, scores 15 + goals, 25 + assists and finally begins to reach that natural skill level potential everyone sees in him? This assumes he is not playing 5 minutes a game on the 4th line. Parse is not getting any younger but, assuming that happens, do you see Parse getting over $2 million from Dean if he finally reaches his potential?

Kevin Westgarth. If he stays consistent with last season, he stays at a slight pay raise. Not much more I have to offer on Westy.

The X factor is Willie Mitchell. Number 33 will be 34 years old next summer. The next contract will be his last contract. Healthy, he is worth every bit of $3 to $3.5 million. Therein lies the rub. To give Willie Mitchell 3 + years (which I believe he will want) at $3.5 is a risky move especially with so many potentially great defensemen in the pipeline pounding on the door. I will give you what may be an outside the box opinion and say, assuming he stays healthy, whether or not Willie stays or goes will depend on what we see from Martinez, Muzzin and Voynov. I wonder out loud if Dean makes a trade for a veteran D man and I question (absent a much better showing in the playoffs) if Matt Greene (ducking to avoid the object some of you just threw) is part of that trade since we have young D men ready to step in to that number 5 or 6 spot. I know, I know, you love him, I do too.

So, take away $3.2 for Stoll, $1.2 for Parse, $750,000 for Westgarth from $16 million and you have (rounded off) $11 million in cap space. If we keep Greene (which I hope we do as I hope he steps up his game, especially in the playoffs) and we replace Willie Mitchell with another veteran D of the same mold for about the same price (possibly more), that still leaves us around $10 million in cap space and a need at left wing, right?

So, what would Zach Parise cost?

GO KINGS!