History has a funny way of repeating itself in the world of hockey.
When the Kings first visited Las Vegas, to play an outdoor game against the Rangers in 1991, they had no idea that six years later, playing a preseason game in Sin City would become an annual tradition like no other game on the NHL’s exhibition calendar. As the allure of Frozen Fury grew, nor did they realize there would later become an expansion team called the Golden Knights that would quickly take the city by storm.
After lying dormant for five years, Frozen Fury was resurrected in Salt Lake City in September 2021 as part of a three-year agreement. The first two of those featured the Golden Knights as opponents for the Kings, this year it will be the Sharks.
We hear a contract extension is currently in discussion and could be announced soon.
Regardless, history repeating itself may be in the works once again, as we stand near the doorstep of NHL expansion in… you guessed it, Salt Lake City.
That’s likely still at least two years away, though. The Kings have more immediate business to consider. Thursday night in Utah, coach Todd McLellan will get perhaps the final look at several of the five players still vying for one single spot on the team’s Opening Night roster.
With the 12 forward spots, six defensive skaters, and two goaltenders all but decided, that leaves enough salary cap room for just one extra player — the 21st man, if you will.
After giving his predicted Opening Night roster a trial run on Tuesday vs. the Ducks, the plan is to work a few of the other guys into the mix vs. the Sharks.
Defenseman Brandt Clarke was already scheduled to replace Jordan Spence in the lineup tonight, and at least one of Alex Laferriere and fellow prospect Alex Turcotte were expected to draw in up front.
Additionally, the Kings will have to navigate around the availability of Arthur Kaliyev — not just for tonight, but the first two regular season games too.
Los Angeles’ Arthur Kaliyev has been suspended for two preseason games and two regular season games for Kneeing Anaheim’s Chase De Leo. https://t.co/AW1Heob4rD
— NHL Player Safety (@NHLPlayerSafety) October 5, 2023
By suspending Kaliyev into the regular season games, it could really muck up the Kings already delicate salary cap situation heading into Opening Night. While the current thought is trending more toward holding onto a defenseman in the 21st spot, Kaliyev being sidelined may force them to keep an extra forward to replace No. 34 in the lineup, as Kaliyev will have to be a healthy scratch during his suspension and his cap hit won’t come off the books.
There would be other options, like send Quinton Byfield down to AHL Ontario for a few days — because he is the only other waiver exempt forward projected to be on the opening night roster. Yet, that’s some pretty complicated cap gymnastics that would actually leave McLellan two players short (Kaliyev and Byfield) from what he was planning on using for Opening Night.
LA Kings Projected Lineup vs. San Jose Sharks
Byfield – Kopitar – Kempe
Moore – Danault – Arvidsson
Fiala – Dubois – Laferriere
Grundstrom – Turcotte – Lewis
Anderson – Doughty
Gavrikov – Roy
Bjornfot – Clarke
Likely scratches: Anderson-Dolan, Englund, Lizotte, Spence, Talbot
Key Game Info
Puck drop is set for 6:00 pm PST and will be televised by Bally Sports West with Nick Nickson on play-by-play.
Across the Ice
Here’s what the Sharks appear to be planning for tonight:
— Sheng Peng (@Sheng_Peng) October 5, 2023
On This Day in Kings History
On October 5, 1992, Luc Robitaille was named interim captain of the @LAKings. In 1992-93, Robitaille set NHL scoring records for most goals (63) and most points (125) in a season by a left winger.#LAKings #GoKingsGo pic.twitter.com/8UVKG4Henr
— The Kingstorian (@Kingstorian) October 5, 2023
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