With the Kings final preseason game scheduled for later tonight in Las Vegas, there is still a little bit of housekeeping to prepare for over the next few days, as each team has to submit their final 23-man roster to the league prior to the puck dropping on the 2015-16 regular season.
When the team sent goaltender Peter Budaj down on Friday, and assigned defenseman Damir Sharipzyanov to the OHL, that left 30 players remaining on their training camp roster. Barring a last minute trade, and nothing is imminent on that front, we’ve learned the team plans to place forward Brian O’Neill, defenseman Vincent LoVerde, and goaltender J.F. Berube on waivers. If they clear, they’ll be sent to AHL Ontario. Joel Lowry is listed as injured and does not need to clear waivers to go down to the AHL, nor will he make the NHL roster.
That gets the team down to 26 players. The three remaining spots to trim come down to one forward and two defenseman. From what we’ve been told, as much as Michael Mersch has impressed management (and the general belief is he will likely be in the NHL at some point this season), there just isn’t room for him right now on the NHL roster. Thus, look for him to open the season in Ontario. Also, to put it differently, they just aren’t interested in giving Andy Andreoff away for free on waivers. They liked what he did at the AHL level two seasons ago and hope that he will take on a bigger role than the ultra-limited time he saw in a Kings uniform last season.
On the blueline, it comes down to three players – Derek Forbort, Jamie McBain, and Jeff Schultz – vying for one spot (as the seventh defenseman). Forbort does not require waivers, and we’ve been told unless something changes dramatically in the next 48 hours, he is most likely headed to the AHL to start the season.
The final decision comes down to the health of Matt Greene and Jake Muzzin, which will be re-evaluated on Monday. All things being equal, McBain is set to get the spot. The thinking is, although Schultz is a good option on D, the hope is (like last preseason) his $850K contract will be enough to dissuade other teams from claiming him.
Obviously, if Muzzin and/or Greene end up on IR to start the year, that creates an extra spot or two, which makes the decision that much easier… but only temporarily.
Eventually, with the expected moves, the opening night roster will essentially look like this:
Milan Lucic – Anze Kopitar – Marian Gaborik
Tanner Pearson – Jeff Carter – Tyler Toffoli
Dwight King – Nick Shore – Dustin Brown
Kyle Clifford – Trevor Lewis – Jordan Weal
Jake Muzzin – Drew Doughty
Brayden McNabb – Christian Ehrhoff
Alec Martinez – Matt Greene
Three extra roster players:
Of course, you can expect coach Darryl Sutter to rotate Shore, Lewis, and Weal in and out of that third line center spot. Also, McBain-McNabb should see plenty of time early on as a defensive option.
— The Mayor John Hoven (@mayorNHL) October 4, 2015
Coming up next, the first of our three-part look at the Kings Top 10 Prospects – our annual preseason rankings of the organization’s top assets. Until then, you can view the last published rankings here.
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