Anze Kopitar will be out of the Los Angeles Kings lineup this evening when they play the Philadelphia Flyers, which is of course good news for the home team since Kopitar is really, really dang good at ice hockey. Even better news? The Kings cannot replace him and will play a man short.
It's not a logistical problem. Los Angeles' farm team, the Manchester Monarchs, aren't all that far away, and they would like to recall a player from the AHL to play this evening in Philadelphia. But the salary cap won't allow it, and it's not really the team's fault.
Lombardi: "It's one thing for the player to have to pay a penalty.It's another thing for 19 other guys to have to go out there shorthanded."— lisa dillman (@reallisa) October 28, 2014
Here's how it breaks down: Defenseman Slava Voynov has been suspended indefinitely by the league as a domestic assault investigation proceeds in Southern California, yet his $4.16 million cap hit still counts against the Kings. That means they only have six active defensemen on their roster and 11 non-injured forwards. With only $516k of space under the cap, general manager Dean Lombardi cannot call anybody up, even if that player makes the league minimum salary of $550k.
It's slightly more complicated than all of that, but those are the basics of it. The Kings will apparently be allowed to use an emergency call up if Kopitar can't go in their next game. But for now, salary cap issues that aren't really their fault are hurting their team tonight.
The Flyers will take it, even if there's the recognition of a whole lot of irony considering how the NHL has bent over backwards to help them with similar salary cap issues in the very recent past.
Here's what the Kings lineup looked like at their morning skate, via LA Kings Insider:
Pearson - Carter - Toffoli
King - Richards - Brown
Clifford - Stoll - Williams
Andreoff / Nolan
Injured: Gaborik - Kopitar - Lewis
Muzzin - Doughty
Regehr - Martinez
McNabb - Greene