A pair of Kings roster moves came early Monday morning, followed by a pair of questions. However, the entire situation can appear less complicated once it’s properly decoupled.
To fully understand everything that happened, first rewind the clock 24 hours. Just prior to the team’s game in Columbus over the weekend, veteran defenseman Drew Doughty was announced as having a lower-body injury. Fortunately for coach Todd McLellan, he had two additional players on the current six-game road trip — Toby Bjornfot and Sammy Fagemo — so he didn’t have to look far for a replacement on the blueline. Bjornfot slid into the lineup and played alongside Sean Walker on LA’s third pair, logging 14:23 of ice time. The 21-year-old finished the game with a plus-2 rating.
Given Doughty’s day-to-day status, his availability for either of the remaining games on LA’s current road trip remains TBD at best. One positive element is the fact he hasn’t been placed on injured reserve, so that at least indicates there is some optimism he may be back in time to face the Sabres on Tuesday and/or Bruins on Thursday. Because the Kings were only carrying 22 players, they had an extra roster spot available – which allowed them to call up Jordan Spence… just in case. While he isn’t expected to play on Tuesday, it gives McLellan an option (and a healthy body) should Doughty not be good to go in Buffalo.
In 22 games with AHL Ontario this season, Spence has 21 points, tops among all Reign blueliners. The 21-year-old Canadian also sits third in AHL points by defensemen. This all comes in his second year as a pro player, following a rookie campaign last season that saw him split time between the AHL and NHL, including 24 regular season games with the Kings.
Even though that roster move brought the Kings up to the 23-man limit, they weren’t done. Forward Viktor Arvidsson was also designated “non-roster player status.”
Per CBA section 16.12 — If a player is unavailable for reasons other than injury or illness, they can be declared a Non-Roster player.
Essentially, it's a personal matter. https://t.co/NiPBtZdumH
— The Mayor | Team MM (@mayorNHL) December 12, 2022
Simply put — Arvidsson’s situation isn’t trade or health related. It’s a personal matter and he isn’t expected to be away from the team for an extended period of time. By moving to a non-roster status, it opened up the 23rd spot on LA’s roster, allowing them to call-up Rasmus Kupari.
The 22-year-old forward has split time between the Kings and Reign again this season. After only playing 15 of his 72 games with the Reign last season, Kupari has suited up for 16 games in LA this year. While in Ontario, he’s recorded 9 points (5G, 4A) in 11 games. On Sunday, he had the game-winning goal in overtime vs. the Tucson Roadrunners.
Finally, ‘Why not call up Quinton Byfield instead of Kupari?’ was a common question on social media in the hours following the above news. It’s a valid question on the surface, especially given his recent performance with the Reign.
Byfield conditioning assignment…
14 points in 13 games
9 goals, 5 assists
Next up. Friday @ Bako
— The Mayor | Team MM (@mayorNHL) December 11, 2022
However, considering that Kupari was called up more to serve as an extra forward and isn’t likely to play (at least not on Tuesday vs. Buffalo), it appears Kings management is sticking to the original plan for Byfield — something discussed here:
Lead photo via Daniel Stopani
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