Kings prospect Brandt Clarke will not play in the team’s final preseason contest on Saturday afternoon.
That’s not the real news, though.
Mayor’s Manor has confirmed that the 19-year-old defenseman will make the club’s Opening Night roster. How long he will be up in the NHL is still to be determined. He’s done enough to earn a spot with the club for now, and that’s the first step. Prior to playing his 10th NHL game this season, GM Rob Blake will need to make a determination to keep him up or send him back to the OHL for one more year, as he’s ineligible to play in the AHL this season.
Clarke, the Kings first round draft pick in 2021, has caught the attention of management over the past month. After a summer that involved him attending Development Camp in LA and a World Junior Evaluation Camp for Team Canada, he was impressive at last month’s NHL Rookie Faceoff tournament in San Jose. That momentum carried through into camp with the big club, where he played in every preseason game up until today. He’s not only earned a day of rest, he’s also earned a chance to make his NHL debut next week.
This decision also triggers another domino. Should all of the blueliners playing against Anaheim on Saturday come out of the game healthy, this leaves fellow prospect Jacob Moverare as the odd man out. He played 19 games with the Kings last season and elevated his status on the depth chart. Yet, by keeping Clarke up, there isn’t currently room for the 24-year-old Sweden native. He’ll be placed on waivers tomorrow. Should he clear, he’ll be assigned to AHL Ontario — but it wouldn’t be that surprising to see him get more NHL games this season.
Up front, there is even more news.
Recently, we reported Viktor Arvidsson was said to be ahead of schedule in his return from offseason surgery. Apparently, he’s even further ahead than anybody expected. Mayor’s Manor has also confirmed that not only will he make his preseason debut vs. the Ducks on Saturday (which had been the plan for quite some time), but he’s also expected to be ready for Opening Night. Although Gabe Vilardi has looked solid in preseason — even earning the praise of coach Todd McLellan — should Arvidsson be good-to-go, he’ll lineup in his familiar spot alongside Phil Danault and Trevor Moore come Tuesday night.
TM:Give him credit for being enthusiastic & being excited; teammates love playing w/him right now. That's a real good sign. The way he's using his body to protect pucks, keep plays alive. We've given him a bit of a new PP role; he's accepting of that, seems to be in command of it
— The Mayor (@mayorNHL) October 5, 2022
Sean Durzi recently made his preseason debut. And, again, he’s long been targeted to be ready for Opening Night and that timeline is still the current expectation.
The same can be said for forward Quinton Byfield. He’s missed the past week with an illness, yet we had him penciled in for a return today and that is said to still be the plan.
With all of these notes set in place…
PROJECTED: LA Kings 2022-23 Opening Night Roster
Fiala – Kopitar – Kempe
Moore – Danault – Arvidsson
Iafallo – Byfield – Kaliyev
Lemieux – Lizotte – Grundstrom
JAD – Vilardi
Anderson – Doughty
Walker – Roy
Edler – Durzi
Now, how will McLellan utilize Clarke once the regular season gets going? Those answers will reveal themselves in the days ahead.
For now, one thing remains clear — if the Kings are to take a significant step forward this season, they’ll need guys like Clarke, Byfield, and Arthur Kaliyev to become regular players in the lineup.
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