Matt Ellis/roster inflexibility

Kevin Provencher of the Union-Leader wrote about the situation this weekend, when Buffalo put Matt Ellis on waivers and the Kings had interest in reclaiming him but felt they couldn’t because of their roster situation.

The blog entry, which explains the whole situation, is here here.

The bigger problem is, the Kings have painted themselves into a corner a bit in terms of one-way contracts. Two players who aren’t playing, Brad Richardson and John Zeiler, remain on the Kings’ roster with one-way contracts. Something is going to have to give there pretty soon, because having two healthy scratches — Zeiler remains one, even though he’s on loan to Manchester — creates tremendous roster inflexibility.

The Kings traded a second-round pick for Richardson, who then signed a one-way contract. He has played only five games this season. Zeiler signed a four-year contract last year, and this season it became a one-way contract. He appeared in 36 games last season and hasn’t played this season because of his groin injury. The Kings don’t want to risk losing Richardson or Zeiler, but they might not have a choice at some point.

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  • anthony

    Rich, You are absolutely right.
    I was a bit critical about the Richardson trade, but after seeing him play a few games, I’ve noticed he does have an up side.
    Scrarching him for all these games is a waste. Especially if you consider the fact that he’s being scratched in favor of a defenseman.
    I believe that a POS-Boyle-Richardson line would do better that an POS-Boyle-Harrold line. TM is a fool who likes to throw his weight around.

    And as far as ZElier is concerned. I don’t know what the hell this poor GM was thinking about when he signed him to multi-year contract.
    Oh yes, I forgot, this GM is excellent at signing players to contracts. Cloutier, Nagy, Blake, Handzus, McCauley, Thornton, Wilsie. Outstanding track record. Who needs enemies right.

  • Anonymous

    Hopefully they can trade one of them. Personally I like Zeiler, I know i am in the huge minority on this one, so I would rather keep him. I know he doesnt bring any skill to the game, but he sure bugs the heck out of the other team. I find that to be a valuable asset, to be able to get under the skin of the other teams players. That can lead to undisciplened penalties by the other team. And the more power plays a team gets, the better chance of winning they have.

    Of course if I actually got to see what Richardson can do, if he got a chance to play, I might rather have him. The one hting I have noticed about him, and correct me if I am wrong, but he is great in the faceoff circle, right?

  • Marc Nathan

    A few things here…

    1. Almost EVERY team has “roster inflexibility” — as they all carry 2 or 3 extra players. One way or two way contracts/waiver exempt or not… what’s the difference.

    2. The whole Ellis thing sounds weird and fishy. First off, Harrold and Boyle are NOT the only two waiver exempt players on the roster (Simmonds comes to mind) and the fact is, even if Zeiler was put on waivers, do you HONESTLY believe (a) anyone would claim him or (b) anyone would care if he was claimed? OK, 30 people in New Hampshire MIGHT care…

  • ziggy33

    Richardson should be playing instead of Ivanans. I would bench gauthier and put harrold on defense. I trust Murray’s judgment, but I thought id throw my two cents in.

  • anthony

    I agree Marc Nathan,
    I don’t think thare’s a single GM out there dumb enough to claim Zeiler. Except for one. And unfortunately, he’s our GM.

  • Gary

    Wait, why don’t we want to lose Zeiler again?

  • Quisp

    I believe DL did not expect Moller and Simmonds to make the team this year, and did expect Richardson to play a steady third/fourth line role. I’m not sure why Zeiler would be given a contract that converts to one-way so soon; for all I know, it’s standard; certainly it makes it more likely that he’ll be dealt to a team that will play him, due precisely to teams wanting to avoid losing the player on waivers. Clearly, DL values Richardson or he wouldn’t have traded that pick for him; but I’m a little surprised that he values Zeiler this much. I had always just assumed Ellis was a better Zeiler, much as I now think Clune is a better Zeiler. But it looks to me like DL thinks Zeiler is a better Zeiler. Maybe he’s right.

  • NOT IMPRESSED

    Rich, can you or someone explain the difference between a one way contract and a regular contract? Why would a team sign someone to a one way contract?

    thanks,

  • JDM

    Zeiler definately has a role on this team. We have no pest. When Clune is healthy and NHL ready he should replace Zeiler, but until then (I still don’t think there is a clear timetable for Clune’s return) Zeiler is the only pest. Problem is, where to fit him in?

    He doesn’t belong on Sully, Fro or Kopi’s line. So Handsuz’ line is the only real place for him to go. But you don’t want to bench Ivanans in favor of Zeiler since having a pest with no fighter to defend him is kind of pointless… no use having someone get under the teams skin if when the inevitable retaliation comes there is no bruiser to scare the other team off. So really the only solution I see to this Zeiler and Richardson problem is to send Simmonds down.

    Simmonds will benefit greatly from playing in Manchester. Manchester’s win record would benefit greatly from having a guy like Simmonds, who I’m sure would be a really good AHL scorer. If Simmonds gets sent down, than Zeiler and Army can rotate in his spot, and Richardson in Ivanans spot when we are playing softer teams. I’m curious to let the Harrold experiment play out a little longer, since he has gotten noticably better and more effective at playing RW each game. That line is getting tons of chances and playing the majority of the time in the offensive zone, so while Richardson may ultimately be a better fit on that line, why screw up a good thing while until it stops being effective?

    Until Clune is healthy and NHL ready, the lines should look like this

    Calder-Kopi-Brown
    Moller-Stoll-Frolov
    Harrold-Boyle-POS
    Ivanans/Richardson-Handsuz-Army/Zeiler

    A Richardson-Handsuz-Army line would be a good checking line that score, while a Ivanans-Handsuz-Zeielr line would be a checking line that could bug the sh*t out of the the opposition and draw a ton of penalties. Army-Handsuz-Zeiler might not be a bad combo either.

    No matter how I slice it in my head, Simmonds being sent down is the best choice for everyone, including Simmonds. That way, Zeiler could get some playing time so that once Clune is healthy, there is some precedent of play this season for Zeiler to be traded with.

    When Clune is healthy, just trade Zeiler for a pick or for someone who can help Manch win a few games and plug Clune into Zeiler’s spot on the lineup. If there are injuries, Simmonds is a good call up, or he will develop further throughout the season and have a lot more stability in his game (and hopefully his puck handling in skating… oh my) to contribute more to the team next season.

  • Anonymous

    I know I’m against the grain here, but I think Zeiler is more effective than Richardson. Reason is, he has more heart than anyone on the roster. He works his a** off. if we have to pick between the two, I’m with Z.

    Also, DL deserves a little credit here, at the time of the signings that everyone is bashing (Blake, Cloutier, McCauley, Willsie…), the team was not at all attractive to desireable free agents. Lets see you get on the phone and try selling an all star on coming to LA when the future was uncertain. Over the next season or so, we should see the quality of signings improve as the direction has been made clear. Hopefully…if no, then I’m wrong and DL does suck.

  • mrbrett7

    Zeiler brings plenty to the table for a boarderline 4th liner.

    The real problem is, and one I don’t mind having, the kids arrived early.

    Nobody expected Simmonds, nor Moller to play at this level this early.

    Now…Simmonds, in my opinion, should be in Manchester. Can he play in the NHL right now? Sure, but why rush him. Have him in Manchester where he can play more minutes per night, put on some MUCH needed muscle, and hone his game some more. I love what he brings to the table, but it isn’t anything more, at this point, than Richardson and/or especially Zeiler can bring. He has FAR more talent than either of those two, but there is no need to rush him.

    Zeiler was signed at a time when the Kings had nobody who could play his role. TEAM team team…different players play different roles, and aside from Zeiler, at that time, there wasn’t anyone who played his role. He was/is young, so therefore you sign him. 4 years? I’m not so sure on, but at his price, sure, no problem.

    Armstrong is at the end of his career, and even he knows it.

    The major mistake here was the trade for Richardson…he just doesn’t have a role on this team. Giving up a 2nd round pick makes it even worse…now, we don’t know what the real deal was. There may be an under the table type of deal coming back Lombardi’s way (happens all the time). But, in my opinion, he was a big mistake, unless he was meant to play on the 3rd line, but, his role/spot has been taken by Oscar Moller…another kid who wasn’t supposed to be here yet.

    It’s a nice problem to have.

  • Moondoggie

    Interesting article by Kevin Provencher, the inflexibility of being able to send players back & forth to their minor league teams really hurts a teams ability to develop their young players and their growth. It doesn’t allow young teams to improve themselves by getting young players who are sitting ice time. Bad situation that needs to be looked at by the league. Matt Ellis should be playing for LA or Manchester right now…..

  • Anonymous

    At first I didn’t really think we needed Zeiler, but after watching everygame this year I think we DO. He is a pest who can hit, get under the opposing players skin, and once and while back up his job with a fight. This team s far has been playing ok but it seems at some points they have no jump and I think a guy with the role like Zeiler has would be good in the line up. Kind of like a non dirty Sean Avery. I mean I went to the Anaheim game last tuesday and the loudest cheer came when Boyle pummeled Niedermayer to the ice. It gives energy to the team and wakes up the fans thats why we need a pest.

  • Chirs Bond

    What is a one way contract??????

  • mrbrett7

    Chris Bond-

    A one way contract means that player can only play in the NHL (basically), a two-way contract means the player can play in both the NHL and AHL, and be sent up and down…but it’s more complicated than that.

    If you have the time, take a seat, grab lunch, and look up the rules, seriously, it will take a while. Waiver wires get involved (which was probably the other reason why Zeiler was signed to a one way deal). Players, at a certain age, have to pass through waivers to be called up and down.

    2 years ago, the Kings wanted to call up LaBarbara, but decided to not even try knowing he would have had to have pass through waivers to do so, and must have known there were teams that would have claimed him. At that time, he was on a two-way deal.

  • Paul from Oxnard

    @Chris Bond: There are 2 basic contract structures in the NHL. A two way contract allows you to pay a player 1 salary in the NHL, and another salary in the minors. Of course the minor league salary is much lower, usually 10 to 15% of what they would make in the NHL (I think). A one way contract means you have to pay them the NHL salary regardless of where they play.

    And I agree with most guys who have responded. What do the Kings see in Zeiler? Yeah, he turned a few heads the first few games he played a couple of seasons ago, but he’s not an every night NHL player and probably never will be. He’d struggle to stick with most AHL teams. He may be a “pest”, but the Kings need players who can play a solid 2 way game, not one who takes unnecessary penalties being “a pest”.

  • Quisp

    1way v. 2way contracts and waivers:

    My understanding (which of course begs correction — help, please, Rich)…

    Waivers have nothing to do with one-way or two-way contracts, except by coincidence, the coincidence arising from the fact that two-way contracts are generally given to prospects and these same prospects are simultaneously exempt from waivers because of their age and games/seasons played.

    One-way contract: the player gets the same salary whether he’s in the NHL or the minors.

    Two-way contract: the player gets one salary if he’s in the NHL, and another (smaller) salary if he’s in the minors.

    Now, waiver-exemption:

    All players are exempt from waivers for a certain period, which is determined by (1) the player’s age, (2) the number of professional games played, and (3) the number of seasons since the player signed his first pro contract. There are several nuances to this, but the bottom line is, skaters are exempt until they’ve played 160 games, unless they are over 21, in which case it’s 80 games (and if they are over 25, they are only exempt if they just signed their first pro contract). For goalies, the games played numbers are lower (80 games, not 160, etc.).

    Richardson is over 21 and has played more than 80 games. Zeiler is older than 25. Therefore, neither is waiver-exempt.

  • PRMan

    You guys are insane.

    Simmonds is much more defensively responsible than Zeiler or Richardson. That’s why he plays with Handzus and Z and R sit.

    He also can be a pest if Terry Murray lets him. Simmonds > Zeiler in that role as well.

    I would have waived Zeiler in an instant for the opportunity to re-acquire Matt Ellis.

  • JonG

    Anyone care to guess how many times they’ll have to replace the Staples Center glass when Zeiler misses his check and goes slamming into the boards?

  • Ciccarelli

    Players are also subject to re-entry waivers if they make more than a specific amount in the AHL. Hence if on a one-way contract, they are also subject to re-entry waivers because they receive NHL pay at the AHL. If on a two way, and the AHL-pay part of the contract is below the re-entry threshold, the player is not subject to re-entry waivers.

  • Marty

    Since the team has all the scoring up front why don’t we move Sully and get something in return?

  • brianguy

    time to pick one and send him through waivers. based on the last 2 seasons, I would most certainly not want to keep Zeiler around, and he has the longer contract (and complete lack of scoring) that nobody’s going to want. so unless I’m missing something – send him down, keep Richardson around for now and see if he can find a role, or if that does enough for us by freeing up a roster spot.

    eventually if Richardson doesn’t find his way, put him on waivers too.

  • historyguy

    Move Sully, Marty???

    Ahhhhh…..no. There are only a few players who qualify as the “young core” that DL has worked so hard to build.

    Kopi, A-Fro, Brownie, and Sully are the forwards in that class. Hopefully add Moller, Simmonds, Boyle, and Purcell to that in the near future.

    JMFJ, Doughty, Greenie, and maybe now Quincey are the d-men in that class. Hopefully add Teubert and Hickey to that mix next year.

    In goal, Bernier’s the man. IMHO, Ersberg could be if TM would give him enough of a chance. We’ll see.

    Anyway, my point is that none of these guys will be traded, nor should they be if we buy into DL’s system. You augment them with a few good character guys (Odie, Zeus, Calder (on every 3rd game), but those guys aren’t too hard to get once you have the core in place.

    One thing I’ve only seen pointed out once or twice is that having the core in place makes the character guys easier to get. With a talented core, more players will want to come to LA.

    So, trade Sully because we have “all the scoring up front”??? Not if you’re trying to build a long-term winner.

  • vicarious

    At first I liked Zeiler’s game but the more I saw of it the less I was impressed. He plays with energy but without purpose. Better to keep Richardson and eat Zeiler’s contract.

    Moller and Simmonds beat out Richardson, Ellis and Zeiler; the rookies play the game faster and better and are likely to keep improving.

    converting Harrold to forward was a smart idea.

    Almost always, the best players play. Last I checked, the coaches do not like to lose games.

  • Quisp

    I haven’t been a big fan of Zeiler so far but I’m willing to reserve judgment until we see him in some games for this year’s team. The teams of the last two years were different animals. I want to see what Zeiler and Clune can do on this team. I’m going to guess we don’t need both of them. But we do need someone to step into the agitator role.

    As far as Clune’s health goes, I believe he said (in his blog) that he’ll be back in a couple of weeks.

  • CBGB

    I think its funny we’re talking about Zeiler and Elis – two players that won’t make most NHL teams and will be a hard to answer trivia question when the Kings are eventually contending for a playoff spot.

  • Quisp

    CBGB –

    It is funny. But every successful team has players like that.

    Lonnie Loach, Warren Rychel
    Brent Gilcrest, Mike Knuble, Joey Kocer
    Jim MacKenzie, Colin White, Turner Stevenson
    Greg Gilbert, Jay Wells, Mike Hudson

    etc.

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