I think the real hope at this point for the Los Angeles Kings, as general manager Dean Lombardi laid out Monday evening, is for Mike Richards to re-discover his game in the AHL, which perhaps paves the way for an NHL return at some point.
Or perhaps allows the Kings to eventually find a trade partner.
The third option that lurks out there this offseason is a buyout, although a Kings source told ESPN.com that that is not in the plans; the team is looking for Richards to turn it around in Manchester.
Richards has $22 million over five seasons left on his deal after this season. The way the buyout works is that you take two-thirds of that amount, which would give you $14.67 million, and spread it out over twice the remaining term. So if my math is right, buying out Richards would ding the Kings' cap $1.467 million per season over 10 years.
If the Kings don’t buy him out, but Richards retires prematurely before the end of the deal, there are also cap recapture penalties headed L.A.'s way, which is another bowl of bad news for the Kings.
In the meantime, other teams still see value in the player. But it’s the contract that scares them away.
"I like the player, I still do, but just can’t take on that contract," said one NHL GM.