It’s been the elephant in the room for several weeks now – the LA Kings simply have too many forwards in training camp. After much discussion and deliberation, GM Rob Blake made the first of several cuts to the large group coach Todd McLellan has had at his disposal of late. Forward Martin Frk and defensemen Kale Clague were placed on waivers this morning. In doing so, all NHL clubs will have the ability to claim them over the next 24 hours. Should any of them clear waivers, they’ll be assigned to AHL Ontario tomorrow.
The Reign are set to open training camp on Sunday, with four days of practices and then they’re due to play their first preseason game on Thursday in Ontario. It will be the team’s first official visit back to their home arena since February 29, 2019.
Frk may be the most surprising of the group. During his first year in the organization (2019-20) he spent the majority of time with Ontario — where he recorded 36 points in 37 games. A midseason call-up to the Kings saw a continuation of some chemistry he developed with Gabe Vilardi in the AHL. With the Kings that season, Frk had six goals in 17 games and then signed a two-year contract extension. Coming into training camp a year ago, he was expected to play on the Kings second or third line, yet injuries derailed those plans. After eventually healing and returning to action, Frk played in 14 games down the stretch for Ontario, producing 12 points.
Although he saw time with the Kings in preseason recently, he never really reunited with Vilardi and now finds himself as a bubble player for the Kings. He’s proven he can produce at the AHL level, now he’s just looking for that chance on a bigger stage.
On the defensive side of things, the Kings began camp with four players fighting for one spot. With Doughty, Anderson, Roy, Bjornfot, Edler, and Walker locked in, that left the Kings seventh defenseman as a question. Olli Maatta is considered to be the lead candidate, with Wolanin, Clague, and Strand in a tier right behind him.
Clague was originally selected by the Kings in the second round (51st overall) at the 2016 NHL Draft. He’s spent the past three seasons with AHL Ontario and has suited up for 22 NHL games with the Kings. He was also left unprotected in the Seattle Expansion Draft — an experience he spoke about on Kings Of The Podcast last month.
Other players placed on waivers today by the Kings include: Brayden Burke, Jacob Moverare, Garret Sparks, and TJ Tynan. All are expected to be assigned to Ontario once they clear. Moverare was Ontario’s Outstanding Defenseman last season.
For more on our projected Reign roster, see the two articles linked below.
Even with the above moves, Blake still has several more roster decisions to make over the next seven days. For example, there are only four roster spots available at forward. With Brendan Lemieux and Vladimir Tkachev looking to have secured two of them, that leaves guys like Grundstrom, Wagner, Anderson-Dolan, Lizotte, Byfield, Turcotte, Kaliyev, Kupari, etc. still in play. Some of those guys will be easier to send to Ontario temporarily, as they are waiver exempt. We looked at the situation in detail here.
Kings and Reign Rosters Coming Into Focus, Plus a Few Head-scratchers
Lead photo via ALo Images
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