To wit, can the Kings afford to use the cap space they have left to acquire players before the trade deadline? Or should they ensure they keep that cap space free in case Voynov -- with his $4.1 million salary -- returns to active duty before the end of the regular season?
Voynov's trial is slated to begin in early March. Even if he’s acquitted, the NHL won’t immediately lift his suspension; the league will want to conduct its own process in deciding when Voynov gets cleared for active status.
The Kings have sought clarity from the league on the subject, and while there’s been good communication between the club and the league, there is no firm, clear answer.
It’s a tough situation for the Kings, but it sounds as though general manager Dean Lombardi and his staff are likely leaning toward making a move or two before the trade deadline and simply dealing with the Voynov situation when it resolves.
Don’t forget that there is no salary cap once the playoffs start. So it’s a nonissue then. But where the grey area resides is whether Voynov needs to be activated before the end of the regular season, and the potential the Kings would not have the cap room to so.
In the meantime, however, while the Kings internally will continue to debate this over the next few days, it sounds as if the club will look at trade options, which includes going after a defenseman such as Andrej Sekera (or Jeff Petry or Zbynek Michalek) while also potentially trading for a winger (with Tanner Pearson still injured, the Kings think that adding a top-nine piece makes sense if the price is right).
It’s about balancing the risk. And at this point, I think the Kings believe they can likely go ahead and try to add a piece or two and figure out the rest later.
But it’s not about doing it just for the sake of making a trade; the Kings won't take this kind of risk with their cap and Voynov unless the player(s) acquired are upgrades.