Some rival team executives, speaking to ESPN anonymously on Saturday, questioned whether the Richards settlement represented a new loophole in the rules.
While the exact amount of the settlement has not been divulged, sources say the Kings will incur salary cap charges until 2031, although the settlement is believed to cost less overall than a buyout would have.
Still, NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly said Saturday that the settlement was within the rules.
"There was a bona fide dispute over the Club's exercise of its termination right pursuant to the SPC (Standard Player's Contract)," Daly said in an email. "There was a grievance filed by the Union seeking resolution of that dispute. The Club is entitled to settle that grievance just as many Club-Player grievances are settled all the time. The CBA not only allows for those settlements, but provides for how the settlements should be accounted for from a Cap perspective. The settlement here is being accounted for in precise accordance with what the CBA contemplates."
Furthermore, Daly said, the NHL has kept a close eye on this entire situation ever since the Kings terminated Richards' deal back in late June.
"The League actively monitored each stage of this dispute from the time of the initial contract termination to the point at which the case was settled, during which time we were in frequent contact with both the Club and the NHLPA," Daly said. "If the settlement was simply a disguised way to get favorable Cap treatment, we certainly would have considered it to be a circumvention and acted accordingly. But this wasn't that. Far from it. There is absolutely zero concern that anything that transpired here could in any way be considered a 'circumvention' of the CBA. Anyone who believes to the contrary is clearly not privy to the facts."
A source also said Richards' settlement includes non-precedent language so that other teams in similar positions cannot cite the Richards case.