Prediction Time – LA Kings 2013-14 opening night roster


After all the hand-wringing and head-scratching that went on this summer over the Kings roster, it’s all about to become crystal clear in the next 48 hours. Some people will like the results, others won’t. Regardless, there are several tough choices ahead for GM Dean Lombardi, coach Darryl Sutter and their key lieutenants.

Based on everything we’ve been able to gather – and let’s be honest, at the time of the this writing, perhaps even Lombardi still isn’t 100% sure what he’s going to do – here’s how we see things shaking out…

As noted in our summer salary-cap articles, NHL teams are allowed a maximum of 23 roster players. Certainly you can have fewer, but you can’t have more. They also need to spend no more than $62.9M in salary to reach their final list.

With that in mind, most of the time you’ll see a team comprised of two goaltenders, seven defensemen and 14 forwards. To protect against any issues with Willie Mitchell’s knee, the Kings are expected to start the year with eight defensemen, which means initially they’ll only have room to carry 13 forwards. At some point, say 10 games into the season, when Lombardi and Sutter are comfortable with his health, one of the ‘extra’ defensemen will have to go and another forward can then be added to round out the roster.

Like always, you might reconfigure the lines differently if you were the coach (and so would we), but this is what Sutter is likely to pencil in come opening night later this week in Minnesota…

Dustin Brown – Anze Kopitar – Justin Williams
Matt Frattin – Mike Richards – Jeff Carter
Dwight King – Jarret Stoll – Trevor Lewis
Kyle Clifford – Colin Fraser – Jordan Nolan

Robyn Regehr – Drew Doughty
Willie Mitchell – Slava Voynov
Jake Muzzin – Matt Greene

Jonathan Quick
Ben Scrivens

Three healthy scratches:
- Dan Carcillo, Keaton Ellerby, Alec Martinez

That roster would give LA just over $600K in remaining cap space.

There are also a few other assumptions built in:

- Goaltender Martin Jones will be in Manchester, as will forwards Tanner Pearson and Linden Vey.  The challenge with Vey moving forward is this – he might be slotted as a possible replacement for Jarret Stoll a few years down the road, but he’s a more naturally suited to be a second line center.  With the Kings committed to Anze Kopitar and Mike Richards long-term, a top-6 spot isn’t going to open up for him in LA.  Plus, his body type and skillset would eliminate using him in a fourth line role. Thus, his options are limited with the Kings. On the other hand, Pearson will be in LA sooner rather than later for reasons explained in the Kings Top 10 Prospects article we posted just before camp opened.

- Tyler Toffoli, the only player from last year’s playoff roster who can be sent to the AHL without requiring waivers, doesn’t look to be with the Kings to start the season. However, once that eighth defenseman is cut/traded (pending the final sign off on Mitchell), Toffoli should re-join the roster. One more point here, don’t get too excited if you’re a Monarchs fan – this doesn’t necessarily mean he’ll start the year in Manchester. The Kings have another play here. They could assign him to Ontario, where the ECHL schedule doesn’t start for almost another month. That would give them an opportunity to keep Toffoli on the West Coast and prevent him from being injured in a game setting. It’s an idea, call it a possibility.

- The two most likely candidates to be cut/waived/traded once they’re ready to add Toffoli back to the roster would be Martinez and Ellerby.  That’s not a knock on either player, just the reality of the numbers game.  There’s only going to be seven defensemen on the roster at some point soon and at least six of those spots look to be locked up already – by Doughty, Greene, Mitchell, Muzzin, Regehr and Voynov.  That leaves only one spot for either Martinez or Ellerby.  The good news is that decision will most likely not occur for about a month.

- Jeff Schultz will be put on waivers come Sunday morning. Final rosters aren’t due to the league office until Monday morning, but Sunday is the last day to put guys on waivers.  With a newly signed one-year contract at just $700K, it’s very likely the 6-foot-6 defenseman will get scooped up by another team. If he doesn’t, he’d gladly be welcomed in Manchester – and best of all, wouldn’t require any sort of re-entry waivers if the Kings ever wanted to call him back up later in the season.

- There’s another option here, although it’s a remote option. They could put Robyn Regehr on waivers or trade him. The upside of doing so is it would free up some salary, making room for a trade later this season (i.e. if somebody gets injured or to add reinforcements at the trade deadline). However, there’s probably a less than 10% chance they’d go this route at the present time. It would make much more sense to do something like this after Mitchell has fully convinced everybody his knee is going to be just fine. If they were to waive (or trade) Regehr, that would allow Muzzin to be paired with Doughty… leaving Martinez and Ellerby to alternate playing time as the sixth defenseman.  All of that said, Sutter and Lombardi both value experience – something Regehr has.  So, this idea would have to be considered a longshot.

- Look for goaltender Mathieu Garon to be offered a contract and start the year with Manchester. More on that story here.

Now that we’ve laid out the scenarios though, Lombardi will probably just make a trade.

What do you think? Take the roster POLL here.

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Comments

  1. Stuart says:

    I say let’s keep King on the top line and have DB play with Stoll as his centerman. They have a distinctly good chemistry between them and it would really give us a scoring threat on 3 lines that we can roll over the boards with almost equal TOI.

  2. Bob Knob says:

    Not sure why you would ever waive Regehr when you could get a little something in return.

  3. Goon Squad says:

    I think they’re too much in “win now” mode to let Regehr go. He may be flawed, but he gives you better Cup odds than one of the younger guys… for now. My unsubstantiated hunch is that at some point they modify the scheme where they have a puck mover paired with a stay at home on all 3 pairs. With Doughty as a prototype, two way stud, I could see a top 4 of DD, Muzzin, Voynov, and Martinez. Then you have a traditional “shut down” pair, i.e.Greene and Ellerby… eventually Gravel or Forbort.

  4. Token says:

    No way RR goes down to minors. Not only is he valued for his experience but the cap relief would only be $925K as the remainder of his $3M would count under the new cap recapture rule.

    Shultz is going on waivers, and if we are lucky, he clears.

    After that it’s frequent flyer miles for the Kids in Manchester as call-ups happen.

  5. KC23 says:

    Having the advantage of just finished watching FF live I’d say Martinez will be starting with Greene in the opener. Schultz, as predicted is on wavers. RR will be going no where, that idea was way out there imho. Pearson made it real tough on the King’s coaching staff by having an outstanding camp. He played probably as good as anyone on LW. Carcillo brings back memories of Hunter and Moreau, not impressed.

    • DesertKing says:

      I kind of liked what I saw from Carcillo last night. Lots of hustle and when he was on the ice, the Avs seemed a little tentative around him. His physical play led to several Avs penalties which led to our 2 PP goals. Maybe we need that little bit of edginess?

    • DesertKing says:

      I was actually slightly impressed with Carcillo. His edginess and physical play seemed to keep the Avs a little off-balance and caused them to take two penalties which led to 2 goals on the ensuing power plays. I wasn’t impressed with his actual hockey skills, but he did hustle on every play.

  6. Paul says:

    when I see Dwight King get penciled in ahead of Kyle Clifford I SMH

  7. m_and_m says:

    I think your lineup looks about right, Jon, but I can’t help but think where is it written in the rule book that you can’t have three scoring lines and that your 4th line has to be three big thugs that race around banging into people for 5 or 6 minutes a night. 8 to 10 minutes of Pearson/Vey/Toffoli would take a hell of a lot of pressure off of the top two lines in turns of matchups. But then, teams that have 3 or 4 lines that can score don’t do very well do they, like Chicago … oh, never mind. I suppose the guys in the suits will figure it out eventually.

    It seems to me that Martinez has done better than Muzzin in the preseason and is more of that “hybrid” offense/defense guy.

    • Bob Knob says:

      This.

      But regardless of what The Mayor’s beliefs on this are, I suspect DL has the same. So we’re stuck with crap players on the 4th line again (noooooooooooooooooooooooooo).

  8. Kevin says:

    So hold off on getting a #44 jersey? I hope we keep him/

  9. DesertKing says:

    Just got home from Frozen Fury and after watching both games at the MGM, I pretty much concur with the predictions. Lombardi has to try and balance maintaining depth with putting the best team possible on the ice. Sending the younger players back to Manchester gives the Kings tremendous depth should there be injuries or sub-par performances, while also allowing them to get significant playing time and experience. In Dean we trust, and has anyone else noticed that RR looks like Woody Harrelson in that photo?

  10. DA says:

    If it was up to me(but it’s not) it would be:

    Brown/Kopitar/Williams
    Frattin/Richards/Carter
    Pearson/Stoll/Toffoli
    King/Lewis/Nolan

    Doughty/Regehr
    Voynov/Mitchell
    Greene/Martinez

  11. Troy_Ice says:

    Would not be surprised to see the Kings carry two extra D deep into the season. Martinez is ahead of Ellerby, but isn’t a great replacement if one of Mitchell, Greene, Regehr goes down-the bigger and older D-Men who seem most likely to get injured. Even without injury, we may just want to give these guys some rest rotate through so they stay fresh and avoid injury (though I suppose the Olympics will help). As one with knee problems, Im not wild about having Willie Mitchell play back to back games. The big advantage of having 2 forwards instead of one on the reserve list is positional flexibility. But, while Carcillo doesn’t play center, there is enough flexibility on the roster to cover the team until Vey can be recalled. In contrast, we don’t have a big defenseman at Manchester who appears to be even close to Ellerby’s level yet.

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