After posting about the Voynov signing and the Kings cap space last night, I was immediately rage texted by someone named Timmy Love, who shall remain nameless, about Rob Scuderi. Something about trades, assumptions, math and Bobby probably chimed in at some point with a reference to male genitalia.

Later on I got into a somewhat intense twitter discussion with The Mayor (does he get the ‘the’ capitalized?, ah what the hell, we like the guy), about Scuderi as well.

The argument isn’t new and it’s one that started among the Kings fan base largely when The Mayor podcasted and posted about how resigning Scuderi would force a trade, or rather, in order to sign Scuderi, someone must first be traded.

The thinking is based in solid math, because right now Willie Mitchell’s $3.5 million is on the books and the only way it comes off is he is traded (not gonna happen) or put on LTIR. He may very well end up on LTIR, but with his health supposedly improving to the point of finally skating a little bit, Mitchell appears unwilling to throw in the towel just yet.

So the conundrum is all based around Willie’s health. We all think Rob Scuderi is the Kings’ big X factor at the moment, but really, it’s Mitchell.

The argument that has been made is that once July 4th hits and free agency begins, Scuderi will get an offer we simply can’t match from a team like the Islanders. The Kings won’t want to give Scuds more than 2, maybe 3 years of term and likely won’t budge far beyond, if anything, the $3.4MM he made on his last contract. So essentially, if you want to keep Scuds, you need to sign Scuds before he hits the open market.

OK, this is probably true. If Scuds gets the big bucks, security blanket retirement contract we can’t afford to give him, he will more than likely take it. He’s already spurned one team that won him a Cup for the free agent waters. Right now, with Voynov’s $4.17MM added to the cap, the Kings have about $7.5 million to play with but several players left to sign. Besides Scuderi, all of Penner, Lewis, Clifford, Nolan, Muzzin, Martinez, Ellerby and Bernier need to be resigned or replaced through the Kings’ system or UFA/trade. As we looked at yesterday, doing all of that with $7.5 is a very tight squeeze.

Now, Penner is probably replaced by Toffoli and Lewis, Clifford, Nolan, Muzzin, Martinez, Ellerby, Bernier are all RFAs and not going anywhere anytime soon unless we want them gone, and we know we want Ellerby gone and probably will have to live with making Bernier go bye-bye as well. But the urgency to get them under contract is minimal. With Scuderi, impending UFA status makes him a priority unless you are comfortable taking the gamble that Mitchell will be 100% come September and ready to play.

I am not comfortable with that and neither is anyone.

So you have to try and get Scuderi signed.

“OK,” says Mr. Smart Guy in the room who we won’t mention is Timmy Love, “Then who you gonna trade, huh? HUH?!”

Nobody.

“But it’s math, Jacob.”

Yes, it is, and I have two more months of the offseason to finish this test.

I’m not trading anybody. Yet. Maybe not at all.

If we resign Scuderi, somebody on the current roster is gone. That is 100% true. But if we are resigning Scuderi, we are doing so with the assumption that Mitchell is the guy who won’t be on the roster. If we resign Scuds, but Mitchell is healthy and raring to go come training camp, then we will be forced to dump a contract right before camp begins, which, because most teams spend their available cap dollars on UFAs, means the return likely won’t be as high as if we were to dump that contract closer to the draft. Hell we might have to outright give away a contract for peanuts or worse yet, put a roster player on waivers and lose him without even getting the discarded shell of a peanut.

So signing Scuds without first freeing up the cap space by making a trade means we spend some time during the summer over the cap which is allowable until a week or two before training camp starts. That means we are just delaying the inevitable problem (again, unless Mitchell is not ready to play and goes on LTIR like we assumed in the first place, in which case it’s all gravy).

But it is an important delay to make.

Why? Because if Mitchell is healthy, even in a totally cap free world, we would not have all of Mitchell, Scuderi, Regehr and Greene on the roster at once. Having four defensive big guns fucks with the offensive dman paired with defensive dman mojo that the Kings operate under.

Right now, even if you sign Scuds, you can’t trade one of those four guys, because no one will take Mitchell’s contract with his status unknown and trading Greene or Regehr is monumentally absurd without any guarantee that Mitchell can play in September. That would mean in order to free up the cap space for Scuderi before signing Scuderi you would be trading a forward. This is where we get the argument from some dolt who we won’t call out called Timmy Love that Williams is the guy the Kings should trade.

So say you do that. You trade Williams or another forward to make sure you have space for Scuds. Then September rolls around and Mitchell is healthy. Well, now you still have to make a trade because the D is uneven, you only have Drew and Voynov to generate offense from the back end and so one of the defensive guys needs to go. Plus, you still have the hole at wing you left open in the summer to fill after all the draft dealing has been done and UFAs have been signed. You will end up overpaying for someone in trade or relying on Tanner Pearson to play in the top six. The only way this works out smoothly is if you can trade one of Regehr, Scuderi or Mitchell for that top six forward. I’m more willing to assume that Mitchell will end up on LTIR than I am that we can trade one of those three guys for solid tip six player.

Conversely, let’s say you make the trade now to open up the space to sign Scuds, then Mitchell isn’t ready to go, goes on LTIR, and now you have your D set, but still have a big hole in the top six. Again, you are stuck scrambling to make a trade, because all the UFAs you’d want are already gone only this time you don’t have the usury of dangling Regehr, Scuderi or Mitchell as trade bait. You end up trading picks and good prospects because you’ve probably already traded Bernier. So sure, you now have $3.5 million in cap space to spend, but it’s a little late. The best bet at this point would be to play the season out for a few weeks and look around the league for the underperforming winger on an underperforming team that wants to shake things up. Or you get Jussi Jokinen, because I’m pretty sure he is available to anyone at all times.

This is all pretty convoluted, based in predictions and assumptions, and a major pain in the ass. This doesn’t even broach the subject of what we do with Bernier, because my brain can’t handle that right now. I think there is already blood dripping out of my ear.

The other thing we haven’t really considered is what happens if Scuderi simply wants a hefty raise and a four or five year contract? Do you give it to him and have to maneuver even more things around to make it work? No, you don’t. Scuderi is important to this team, but we can’t afford to pay him more than he was making.

Then what? You’ve got to look at UFAs, which we will if it comes to that. For now, this post is already too long.

Conclusion? After thinking about it all of last night, I think we’ve seen Scuderi’s last game as a King.